Translating Strategy into Sustainable Results – Think ‘Eco-System’

It’s a wicked problem that we’re all having to contend with in some way: Making sense of, and preparing for, a future that is still forming and that is changing faster and more dramatically as it hurtles towards us.

For the vast majority of businesses, this already wicked problem is being exacerbated by the increasing internal pressure for predictable results, growth and new sources of value, increasingly interconnected and interdependent organisation structures, all against an external backdrop of increasing uncertainty and complexity.

The changes we have all been feeling for some time – increasingly fickle consumers, ever-higher customer expectations, multifarious competitors, unpredictable macroeconomics, the rampant digital revolution, increasing complexity on multiple fronts, to name a few – are not about to ‘settle-down’. In fact, they are on the lower slopes of an exponential curve. Individually these are challenging, but they are not independent phenomena. Taken together they reflect an increasingly interconnected world and a changing topology that will test the resilience, adaptability and agility of organisations beyond what most of us have experienced in our lifetimes.

There are many implications of these compounding forces. Approaches, structures, processes, tools, capabilities, and more importantly mindsets, that were designed for more stable and predictable times are not only out of synch with the changing environment, but quickly become part of the problem rather than part of the solution.  Controls, ‘processes’ and ‘governance’ that slow-down an organisation, rather than accelerate it, will become a competitive impediment. Any cracks in the alignment of cross-functional plans, or hints of silo behaviour, will be amplified, ripping apart any chance of an agile response to external shifts.

To ensure coordinated ‘course-correction’, coherent actions and collaborative behaviour requires a tighter-knit ‘eco-system’. In any environment, you can’t deliver disproportionate and sustainable results without understanding the interdependencies between the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ components – the ‘eco-system’ – that drives them. In an increasingly unpredictable and complex world, the adaptive nature of this eco-system is even more important. Its design must be coherent with strategy and highly sensitive to context.

While the ‘hard’ aspects – structure, systems, processes, tools, infrastructure, data, etc. – are imperative, they are insufficient. It is the ‘soft’ elements – mindset, attitude, behaviour, capability, belief, creativity, ownership, passion – that bring the eco-system to life, make things happen and make change stick.

This ‘eco-system’ cannot be reduced to its component parts to be treated in isolation. The reductionist mindset that thinks to ‘eat an elephant you need to cut it up into smaller elephant burgers’ becomes part of the problem, not part of the solution. Cutting an elephant into pieces doesn’t result in smaller elephants; it results in a mess. The power of any eco-system lies in how it leverages the critical interdependencies, the often unseen connective tissue, the interactions that have a disproportionate impact – the ‘critical connections’ and ‘key connectors’ – across and beyond the organisation, ensuring these are made explicit, focused on deploying and delivering strategy and accelerating sustainable results.

Over the coming weeks, check out www.stratabridge.com to follow a series of blogs exploring some of the critical elements and characteristics of the eco-system to translate your strategy into sustainable results.

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