Sunday, 18 February 2007

I read another great book over half-term...

My colleague Dee Reid gave me a fantastic book to read before half-term. It's called 'Strategy Bites Back' by Henry Mintzberg, Bruce Ahlstrand and Joseph Lampel and the bit on the back of front cover says it all...

"Strategy can be awfully boring. The consultants can be straighter than their charts, the planners more predictable than their processes. Everybody is so serious. If that gets us better strategies, fine. But it doesn't; we get worse ones - predictable, generic,dull. Strategy doesn't only have to position; it has to inspire. So an uninspiring strategy is really no strategy at all."
One section in the book describes how to destroy a rich culture in five easy steps...
1. Manage the bottom line... and forget the real business;
2. Make a plan for everything... and get rid of creativity and innovation;
3. Move people around... and avoid relationships developing;
4. Always be objective... and forget it's a people business;
5. Do everything in five easy steps!


It goes on... "The most interesting and most successful companies we know are not boring. They have novel, creative, inspiring, sometimes even playful strategies. If we bring a little imagination back into the making of strategy, our strategies can take us to a different place. It's time for strategy to bite back."

I have always wanted to work in places that inspire me, with people who inspire me and make me think... like Dee. This brilliant book finishes with this gem...

"Creating strategy is judgemental designing, intuitive visioning and energent learning; it requires personal thinking and social intereacting, cooperative as well as conflictive; it can include analysing before and programming after as well as imagining during. Providing any answer short of this would be doing you a disservice because when it comes to strategy there are no easy answers. Except of course to make sure you understand deeply what you are strategising about, that you act engagingly, responsively, and responsibly and that you have the courage to see with your own eyes, think with your own brain and act with your own heart."

We need to build great strategies within a culture that develops imagination, creativity and innovation. We need to lead by example, to challenge the rubbish and the blockers and the people who tell us that we can't. We must stand up against the things that drive out ideas, that discourage individuals from taking risks and that stop colleagues from reaching their potential and changing their world for the better. We must all stand up...
Chris

2 comments:

Pat said...

You know i share your passion and focus on creativity, but......
An old colleague of mine suggested that organisations regularily focus on vision and strategy at the expense of logistics. Given his interest in milatry history and boating we often discussed how in additionion to planing the the journey we needed to be sure that the right people with the right resources were in the best place at around the right time to ensure that we reached our destination as early and as easily as possible.

How does this fit in with "novel, creative, inspiring, sometimes even playful strategies"? A "a culture that develops imagination, creativity and innovation" also needs to deliver what it promises in order to MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

As my old (sadly lamented) friend would say "when crossing the North Sea its not enough to plan for wind, currents and tides and to have the will and resources to make the journey, because after lifting anchor you need to get to you destination".

Chris'Blog said...

Pat,
Thanks for this but you have missed the point. Leadership is about setting the direction and then getting out of the way. To get anywhere, to achieve anything wonderful isn't about command and control... it's about passionate engagement... it's about finding your own way... it's about ownership, voice and choice. The reason so many organisations are mediocre is that they don't inspire peopl, they don't develop creativity, innovation and imagination. That's true of schools, councils and to some extent Education Leeds. Our challenge is to switch people on not tell them what to do... most people given the opportunity and the support of a great coach can be talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful.
Chris