It’s hard to find time for strategy in today’s hyperactive environment.
The corporate world is entranced by an agile credo that prizes speed and activity over dialogue and ideas.
As a result, expectations about strategy are changing: executives want strategy now and demand the data science team gives it to them.
Gone are the days when the annual offsite was the culmination of months of effort by the strategic planning department. Now analysts and consultants build the strategy and executive “Product Managers” sign it off. “We don’t have any bandwidth” to do otherwise.
While data helps, the reality is that creating strategy requires time and intellectual commitment of the leadership team. The process should be informed by data but in essence is an interpretive and creative process that is improved by sharing perspectives and debating options in the boardroom.
Unfortunately, this makes strategy a bit of a misfit in the agile world. No-one wants to have to tell the CEO that she needs to spend several days with her senior colleagues just talking.
The temptation is to collapse steps in the process, drawing rapid conclusions from data, produce action plans and involving executives only for approval at key milestones.
That approach will get you a strategy on paper but not one which is likely to have much unique insight and certainly not one that enjoys the conviction of leaders who understand its origins and are all aligned to implement it.
So although it is unfashionable to say so, strategy can’t be generated by an algorithm. It takes the time of experienced people creating insights together and choosing a future they understand and are collectively committed to.