The Fundamental Flaw in Most Strategies

Major strategies often begin with much fuss and hullabaloo yet make no difference to people's lives.

The employee experience does not live up to the promise. So cynicism pervades and often prevails.

Successful strategies begin in the right place. They look for, and close, the "reality" gap.

What do I mean by that? The higher-ups tend to be too far away from the front line to really understand what's going on. The more levels, the bigger the gap between perception and reality.

Teams often know exactly what's working and what isn't. Yet no-one actually asks the right questions. Decisions are made in silos or on gut feel using incomplete information.

Due to a number of factors, such as news filtering, status bias, glossing over persistent problems and lack of rigour and little curiosity from leaders people don't understand their current reality well enough.

There's a perception that the business is further advanced / mature / organised / effective etc than they really are.

Trouble is the "disease to please" is highly contagious. To please their bosses, teams acquiesce and say “yes“ to new initiaitives knowing the decision making process is flawed.

Then teams start to play catch up. After all, you can't start an exciting new project and be behind from Day One. Not a good look.

So they report "green" status because that's what the Leadership wants to hear, right? Persistent issues are parked and dissenting voices are told to get with the program.

Artificial harmony replaces open and honest conversation.

Then eventually something breaks...

A series of factors brings it to a head.

Over-worked employees trying to make it work, unkept promises, missed targets, budget over-runs, and angry stakeholders demanding results. Project land is not a fun place At times.

The project limps to a stop. Let the finger-pointing and blame games begin.

What can avoid initiating a strategic project from the wrong place?

My tip to leaders: Try flipping it right from the beginning by asking front line teams this one question:

"If you were in my shoes, where would you start with this project?"

Then pause ... and listen.

Successful strategies begin in the right place. They look for, and close, the "reality" gap. By asking the right questions of the right people, you are far for more likely to get the results you want.

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