Strategy Isn’t Hard (We Just Make It that Way)

Mark Mullaly is president of Interthink Consulting Incorporated, an organizational development and change firm specializing in the creation of effective organizational project management solutions. Since 1990, it has worked with companies throughout North America to develop, enhance and implement effective project management tools, processes, structures and capabilities. Mark was most recently co-lead investigator of the Value of Project Management research project sponsored by PMI. You can read more of his writing at markmullaly.com.

All too often, strategy is viewed as difficult. Complex. Sometimes ethereal. And frequently completely disconnected from reality.

One of the inherent challenges in many organizations is that strategy is considered to be--at the same time--conceptual, abstract and elusive. It is something that happens “up there” and “out there”, and that tangibly seems difficult to grasp. It is seen as the sole province of senior executives, who bring greater insight into the machinations of the marketplace, who divine direction by reading the fog.

It does not have to be that way. It shouldn’t be that way. But for some reason, for too many organizations--public and private sector alike--we make it that way. And to be clear, yes, I am suggesting that this is a deliberate choice. Or at least, it is a failure to not be any clearer regarding the strategy of our organizations.

Put simply, a strategy is--according to Merriam-Webster--the “art of deploying plans...toward a goal.” In other words, figure out where you are trying to go, understand where you are and connect the dots. Hey, presto. You have a strategy. Now, it is a little bit more intricate than this, but not by much. The art of strategic planning is really about figuring out where the organization needs to be in the future, understanding where it is today and devising a means of …

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