schneider + partners has over 25 years of experience helping creative and project based organisations to be even more successful in running their organisations and achieving their goals. This series of tips and supporting notes reflects some of the main issues that we have seen. Some are surprisingly elemental:
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What does strategy mean in your organisation? The Oxford Dictionary defines strategy as a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim. Others expand this in business terms, for example, to refer to (a) the method or plan chosen to bring about a desired future, such as the achievement of a goal or solution to a problem and/or (b) the process of planning and marshalling resources for the most efficient and effective use.
Strategy development should therefore be expected to embrace all the relevant areas and issues relevant to achieving a (long term) goal or aim and broad strategies may need to be supported by a coherent set of (more focussed) sub-strategies. For example, in many creative organisations this may mean ensuring that there are sub-strategies for an organisation’s infrastructure, its target markets, the various phases of its operations (for example how it wins projects, designs them and delivers them) and for how individual projects are successfully realised.
One issue to acknowledge is that there may be overlaps - and sometimes areas of potential conflict. Perhaps the team leader in a particular market may have a different view of what is required (for that market) to that of the organisation's creative director. Or the systems that are in place may not be encouraging behaviours that are thought to be required by those responsible for a particular area of activity. Such conflicts then need to be openly and constructively addressed.
It will also be important to ensure that there is a coherency between how an organisation is structured and its strategies - ideally so it can be shown diagrametically how the various sub-strategies inter-relate and interface. Even if the very common, hierarchical structures may not always be the most appropriate.
There is also the need to get people - individuals and teams - to focus on their particular area of responsibility. One reason why we often see (sub) strategies not being successfully implemented in a particular area of an organisation (read: particular areas of an organisation not being successful) is that it is not always clear who has responsibility (and the required resources) for developing and implementing the (sub) strategy there. Focus and 'ownership' here can be critical.
In most creative organisations it should be possible able to ask anyone what they are aiming to do, how they are planning to do it, what resources they have (or need), and what results can be expected by when. This may apply as much to the development of a broad area of strategy or sub strategy - as to how a particular project or part of it is being addressed
This approach should also help to build strategic thinking across the organisation - and with it the next potential layer of leaders. This can be particularly important in small to medium size owner managed organisations where attention is not always paid to developing the next level of management.
Of course this assumes that strategies can simply be defined and then implemented - rather than needing to be crafted in response to changing circumstances and events. But that’s the subject of another paper …
Spread - and focus - your strategies …