Rebel without a cause

I recently kicked off a series of posts on insulation that’s meant to talk about the critical ways leaders can become disconnected—and hopefully provide some ideas on how they can fight against it.

I listed four kinds of insulation in the introductory post:

  • From the larger organizational context
  • From the work being done on the ground
  • From wider communities of practice
  • From the marketplace

In this post I want to dig into the first, insulation from the larger organizational context.

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Do we really need a Chief Strategy Officer?

After taking a break last post to review Open Leadership, by Charlene Li, I want to return to corporate strategy.

For those of you keeping score, I spent a few posts walking through a hands-on approach to building out strategy that I’ve used successfully at many clients.

Today, however, I want to step back a bit and get a little philosophical by considering whether strategy is something organizations should address through a dedicated department that rolls up to a Chief Strategy Officer.

Spoiler alert: I don’t have a definitive answer. So if you’re looking for one, you need to go somewhere else. But I have some thoughts on the matter that I want to explore a bit here.

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Alignment (part three)

I’m in the middle of a series of posts focused on corporate strategy that are going to be part theory and part practice, a way to mine the work I’ve been doing over the last couple of years for insights. Hopefully folks out there will find them not only valuable, but good conversation starters for sharing their own thoughts and experiences.

In the last post, I began demonstrating an exercise that can help turn a laundry list of aspirations into a prioritized (and actionable) set of goals. We got as far as determining the Top Two goals that the strategy would support and then using the remaining items on the laundry list to formulate guiding principles.

In this post, I want to take the exercise further to show how to connect your guiding principles to the capabilities and projects needed to deliver them.

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Alignment (part two)

I’m in the middle of a series of posts focused on corporate strategy that are going to be part theory and part practice, a way to mine the work I’ve been doing over the last couple of years for insights. Hopefully folks out there will find them not only valuable, but good conversation starters for sharing their own thoughts and experiences.

In the last post, I introduced the idea that to be effective, strategy needs to be aligned with larger goals and began walking through an alignment exercise I’ve found useful. We’d reached the point where we had a laundry list of possible goals and realized that if we tried to do everything on the list, we would likely fail–a list of this many goals is just too diverse to be actionable, especially when the organization needs to make tough decisions about tradeoffs.

Let’s continue walking through the exercise to see how you turn a laundry list into a clear call to action.

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Alignment

Last week, I kicked off a series of posts focused on corporate strategy. I want to make these part theory and part practice, a way to mine the work I’ve been doing over the last couple of years for insights—hopefully folks out there will find them not only valuable, but good conversation starters for sharing their own thoughts and experiences.

In the last post, I shared my thoughts on why strategy is important:

I think strategy often gets a bad rap as a means of procrastinating, a form of analysis-paralysis, or, at the very least, a non-value-adding exercise: We don’t have time for strategy—we need to get something done.

But I would argue that getting the wrong thing done is worse than doing nothing at all. And without strategic planning, you have a lower probability not only of doing the right thing, but of doing it well.

What’s implied in these statements is that doing strategic planning poorly is worse than not doing strategic planning at all. And so with that, let’s take a look at one technique I’ve used successfully for doing it well.

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Being in the right place at the right time

When I think about the difference between a great leader and an exceptional one, part of the answer is being in the right place at the right time, whether that means the right organization at the right time, the right industry at the right time, or the right discipline at the right time.

And when I think about the most pressing challenges facing organizations in 2010, one of the most critical is how to transform IT into a strategic, core competency analogous to the transformations manufacturing and supply chain went through in the eighties and nineties. Which means that IT leaders today are in the right place at the right time to be exceptional—if they can manage this transformation.

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