Traditionally a company had one corporate strategy that was updated on an annual basis. It was defined by the C-level and followed throughout the organization. At times the strategy was broken down to the various business units but kept closely aligned with the corporate strategy.
Fast forward some decades to today. While almost all companies still have a corporate strategy, they have a long list of additional strategies. Below a non-comprehensive selection:
- HR Strategy
- Talent Strategy
- Technology Strategy
- Digital Strategy
- Marketing Strategy
- eCommerce Strategy
- Product Strategy
- Ecosystem Strategy
- Vendor Strategy
All of these areas can be considered business critical and thus deserve a place on the Chief Strategy Officer’s agenda. Today they are very often owned by different stakeholders with varying interests. Furthermore, they are often badly or not aligned and drive the organization in multiple, often opposite directions. Reasons for the misalignment are manifold and are often not visible including but not limited to different priorities (e.g. revenue growth vs. efficiency increase), personal agenda, different interpretations of objectives / priorities and rivalries between departments / teams.
The Corporate Strategy priority list
So, how do you order and priorities the different strategies that are created with a lot of time and effort in various parts of your organization. How do you create a hierarchy of strategies or a strategy tree?
The answer is very simple, you don’t!
Company’s need to have one holistic corporate strategy that allows different stakeholders to look at the strategy through various lenses. So, instead of having a technology or digital strategy that is loosely connected (or not) with the corporate strategy, there needs to be a strategy lens / view of the corporate strategy that address technology and digital aspects and priorities.
As the world is changing at a rapid pace we will see new developments springing up at a frequent interval. Instead of establishing yet another department with yet another strategy, consider extending your corporate strategy with an additional lens.
The Corporate Strategy renewal cycle
Looking at the different strategy elements they will require different intervals of renewal. While some might be able to remain in an annual renewal cycle others will shift towards much faster cycles that will allow companies, business units or departments to react rapidly to new developments and trends in their respective area of responsibility. In some area the frequency of updates required for the strategy or a sub-strategy is increasing to the point that adjusting it needs to be a continuous operation.
And don’t get me wrong. Ownership of different strategic elements should be close to where they are executed but need to be governed and overseen by the Chief Strategy Officer and her team.
Concluding let me say that developing a sound strategy has never been as critical as it is today, at the same time it is important to align the company independent of their country, department or business unit behind one, unified, holistic strategy.
Let’s stop the higgledy-piggledy of corporate strategy and enable a clear focus on what counts for your business, your customers and your employees.