BEYOND STRATEGY: EXPANDING OUR HORIZON OF UNDERSTANDING TO IMPROVE BUSINESS PERFORMANCE

Africa International Advisors (AIA) has undertaken several strategy projects across the public and private sector. AIA’s uses Strategi.exe as a digital enabler for live platform strategy execution.

The words that we use and the manner that we use them in, influences our understanding of the world. Limiting words and concepts impose limits on the depth and breadth of our thinking; and thus, of our understanding.

Consider 'strategy', for example. Ask your employees, what 'strategy' means, and the reality is that there will be as many meanings as there are employees. As we employ specialists who focus on Strategy, Performance, Human Resources, Change Management, Learning and Development and so on, we develop separate lexicons in each sphere of expertise, each with their own perspective.

Part of the problem for businesses as a microcosm of the broader environment, is the reductive nature of specialisation: strategy exists in its bubble, so too, does operational efficiency, so too, does human resource management, performance and so on and so forth. By driving towards specialisation and functional structures, silos of thinking and experience emerge – resulting in a lack of understanding that the world is not as reductive as we would like it to be.

Take, for example, the concept of the 'butterfly effect'. That is, small changes can have large effects across vast divides. This embodies a profound truth - the world is interconnected, countries and economies are interconnected, the weather system is interconnected, communities, families and businesses are interconnected.

So, from the perspective of Strategy, what does this mean for companies?

In our experience, Strategy is perhaps the least understood and applied of the management disciplines within organisations. Beyond the executive leadership, most people have a limited exposure to the organisation’s strategy. Very little in the formulation phase, and surprisingly, equally so in its implementation.

This is problematic because Strategy should be everyone's business. Operational efficiency, performance and every other niche specialisation is everyone’s business. For businesses to succeed we need to start moving to a common lexicon of shared understanding and shared values; where resource allocation and decision-making impacts all; where efficiencies and performance management impact all; where organisational culture impacts everyone. We, as staff and employees, have a role to play in ensuring that the best decisions are made, that the shared values that are aspired to are lived, that we all understand our roles in driving the performance of the organisation that we work for and contribute to. Strategy is holistic, it does not exist in a silo.

So how can this be better accomplished?

Firstly, engaging staff on strategy (i.e. resource allocation decisions) should occur regularly. Secondly, and more importantly, the strategic process should be integrated with the operational and performance management processes – to ensure the organisational strategy is embedded within the organisation.

Figure 1: Impact of using Strategi EXE on Aligning Organisations

At AIA, through Strategi EXE, our proprietary strategy platform, we understand that utilising the most relevant available solutions can have a dramatic effect in moving organisations forward holistically. Strategy must be embodied and understood by all. Performance management must be consistent across the strategic, operational and individual layers. Using collaborative tools, visualisations and an integrated performance management system, we ensure that organisations begin the process of breathing life and dynamism into their strategy.




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