Strategy and Culture

Strategy Creation & Execution

Any company designed for success in the 20th century is doomed to failure in the 21st - Salim Ismail

Success brings with it many dangers. If you are number one in your sector, you can be slower than less successful companies to notice and respond to critical changes in the wider marketplace. By the time the impact of these changes is evidenced through a decline in financial performance, it is too late.

The business literature is full of cases where 'excellent' companies who were leaders in their market, failed to adapt and their success vanished before they knew it. The situation will get worse. In 2015 John Chambers, outgoing CEO of Cisco predicted that within 10 years up to 40% of businesses operating today would not exist in a meaningful way within 10 years. His estimate includes large and multi-national corporations.

"Business as usual" no longer exists, and organizations cannot afford to strategize in the ways they used to. The rate of exponential change and constant disruption today requires innovative and adaptive strategy and strategizing. If you are not ahead of the game, you will be disrupted.

Traditional strategizing processes involve each function producing their plans which are linked together through a strategy function, alongside an environmental scan of customers, competitors and context. The executive team and Board then decide on a strategic plan, which is then cascaded back down the system. Often communication of the strategy is unclear and delayed or distributed only to certain parts of the organisation. As a result managers, employees and other key stakeholders have little (if any) understanding of what is intended or their role in achieving it.

To be successful in the 21st century world of business you will need to be actively listening to and engaging with all parts of your wider stakeholder network and eco-system. As organisations realize they have to learn faster than their business eco-system is changing, strategizing is becoming more creative and inclusive. Your strategy needs to excite, and become a magnetic attractor for your organization's wider stakeholders.

Today organizations require strategizing processes that:

  • Co-create a collective intelligence and shared consciousness in the whole system
  • Create dialogue horizontally across the organization and the wider eco-system, removing vertical silos
  • Enable organisations to 'think what has not been thought before', overcome blind spots and question their core assumptions
  • Engage in 'future-back' and 'outside-in' thinking rather than just growing yesterday's success
  • Work across multiple horizons, linking improving today, with innovating tomorrow and anticipating future trends
  • Engage people's heads and hearts, linking objectives to purpose and beneficial impact for stakeholders and tapping into a collective passion
  • Involve all stakeholders in contributing to the strategizing in ways that will increase ownership and fast execution of what emerges

The familiar expression "strategy eats culture for breakfast" is particularly relevant now. Culture will not only eat your strategy, it will also eat up your best strategizing processes. Culture and strategy must be integrally aligned. Without the right team-based culture it will not be possible to strategize in a relevant way, let alone execute the strategy.

As a starting point therefore it is important that initially attention is focused on transitioning the organisation to a team-based collaborative culture in which coaching and learning takes place between all of your employees and stakeholders, at all levels, all the time. This is a generative progression that requires an investment in time and focus, with the desire to change and the visible backing of leadership.

In engaging the supportive partnership of Metaco's consultants, who have the specialist skills and experience to coach senior teams and their organizations through these processes, your company can be amongst those that evolve to thrive in this changing world, and achieve new levels of success.


They have always over-delivered on what has been asked of them...

Group Deputy Chairman, Services Industry