Friday, September 16, 2011

Is Your Organization Using Too Much Strategy?

by Virgil R. Carter
The strategic plan for many non-profit organizations is an extensive, all-encompassing document.  Such strategy espouses politically correct multitudes of competitive demands and interests from across the organization.    “Too much strategy” focuses on the process and nomenclature of broad goals, objectives, vision and values.  As a result, more often than not the strategy goes up on the shelf and organizational life goes on.

In an article, “The perils of bad strategy”, author and UCLA management professor Richard Rumell, describes the importance of seeing bad strategy and countering it with good strategy.  Too much strategy, or bad strategy, has four characteristics, according to Rumell:

·         The failure to face the challenge;
·         Mistaking goals for strategy;
·         Bad strategic objectives
·         Fluff

When is there too much (bad) strategy?  Rumell says it’s because:  1) the inability to focus and make choices; 2) template-style planning, using the formula of “vision, mission, values, and strategies”.

How to focus your organization on good, productive and useful strategy:  focus on what’s important!  There are three elements for focused, useful strategy:

·         Diagnosis:  identifying the critical aspects of the situation;
·         Guiding policy:  an approach that will overcome the challenges in the diagnosis;
·         Focused actions:  coordinated steps to achieve the guiding policy

Does your organizational strategy focus on the crucial factors for your organization and a direction for addressing the factors?  Or do you have too much strategy?

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