Anti-Strategy is an interesting phenomenon. Have you ever wondered why someone in the company, a peer, a direct report or even the boss has done something that just didn’t make sense? Maybe it was reorganization, a change in product direction, adding new people that should be in other organizations, or worse yet, done nothing? Of course you have. You are probably guilty of it yourself, although you may not realize it or don’t want to admit it. Smart, successful and highly compensated people often do things that don’t seem to fit or support the program or your perspective of the direction of the company.
They do it all the time. In today’s world of matrixed organizations, global locations and dispersed views, the probability of this happening is even greater. It is driven by phenomena we call Anti-Strategy. During our strategic execution work over the last few years we are seeing Anti-Strategy more and more. This is the result of well-intentioned people doing what they think is best because of a strategic vacuum.
Many organizations have strategies, but they are not detailed enough or well-known enough throughout the organization. This creates a strategic vacuum because people inside the organization do not have strategic and tactical objectives they can use as a litmus test for decision making. Every vacuum needs to be filled. It is a law of nature and a law of business. Vacuums suck people in to doing something. Someone somewhere will step up and fill the vacuum. It is inevitable. The real question is whether or not those actions will support the company’s strategic direction. When executives don’t have strategic and tactical objectives to guide them, they respond by taking actions to improve things based on their experience, background, education and personal preference. Think about the last strategy session you were involved in. Think about how many different approaches were presented to solve the same problem. I rest my case.
In a strategic vacuum, executives will typically take actions focused on their own organization because that is what they can control. Many times, those well intentioned actions do more harm than good. We recently worked on a project where everyone in the company knew that the CEO wanted to double the size of the company in 5 years. The leadership team hadn’t identified the product platforms and markets they were going to use as the basis for that growth. The result was a vicious cycle of “growth at any cost” which was disastrous for the P&L and incredibly frustrating throughout the organization and the board of directors. This is an example of Anti-Strategy at its best.
Every company is guilty of Anti-Strategy to some extent. Don’t believe me? Walk anywhere in your organization two or three levels removed from the executive team and ask this simple question:
“What is the company’s business strategy and what objectives are you responsible for that impact that strategy?”
The clarity and consistency of the answers you get will tell you how far the Anti-Strategy parasite has infested your organization. The fix starts at the top with well-planned strategic and tactical objectives and a business wide process for cascading those objectives throughout the organization: Much easier said than done, which is why 90% of companies don’t effectively implement their strategies. At Group50, we utilize our Business Hierarchy of Needs® change management framework to provide guidance to all stakeholders on their role in effective strategic execution.
The following articles provide more insight on the impact of Anti-Strategy at the functional level.
- HOW CAN ANTI-STRATEGY KILL YOUR ORGANIZATION? – PART II
- “ANTI-STRATEGY”: A DEATH KNELL TO THE SUPPLY CHAIN – PART III
- THE IMPACT OF ANTI-STRATEGY ON MARKET EFFECTIVENESS – PART IV
- ANTI-STRATEGY – HOW SALES COMPENSATION CAN ACCELERATE IT – PART V
- FROM “ANTI-STRATEGY” TO ACTIONABLE STRATEGY – PART VI
- ANTI-STRATEGY AND INFORMATION GAPS – PART VII
- “ANTI-STRATEGY” AND THE COMMUNICATION CONUNDRUM – PART VIII
- INOCULATING INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AGAINST ANTI-STRATEGY – PART IX
Feel free to share this link to the Anti-Strategy series with colleagues who might find this of value to them and their organization.
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About the Author: Jim Gitney, CEO and Founder, started Group50® Consulting in 2004 with the focus of working with companies to significantly improve their performance by leveraging people, process and technology as part of developing a company’s strategic plan 5.0. In 2013, he created Group50’s Business Hierarchy of Needs® change management framework, a fundamental strategic planning and strategic execution guide to senior leadership teams, and was granted a trademark in 2015. This framework eliminates the existence of Anti-Strategy.
Jim has held C-suite and Board positions in large and small companies (GE, Black & Decker, Sunbeam, Rain Bird, Pankl Aerospace and others) both privately and publicly held. He is considered a subject matter expert in strategic planning, strategic execution, operations, supply chain and restructuring. He has taken best practices from around the world, worked closely with clients and other Group50® consultants to create Group50’s full suite of strategic planning and execution tools. Group50® consulting consists of consultants from every functional discipline who have spent their careers in corporate America developing strategic plans and rolling up their shirt sleeves to get it done.
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