How to unlock the full potential of strategy

Nov 10, 2015
Would you like to be a strategist? If you ask the question to a group of MBA students, almost everybody raises hands. If you probe further, then it becomes clear that most students are interested in strategy formulation. Generating visionary ideas and exploring new opportunities is what entices students to be a strategist. As strategy practitioners, we roughly estimate that strategy is for 10% about inspiration and vision and for 90% about intense and disciplined execution and strategy project implementation. In fact, strategy is the art of bringing grand ideas into practice.

Formulation without execution is pointless

Strategy handbooks encompass countless conceptual frameworks for strategy formulation such as SWOT, 5 forces, PEST analyses, financial and competitive position assessments, business model canvases, benchmarking, critical success factor analyses, … But strategy formulation without execution is pointless. The ROI of strategy is achieved through management control processes and structures for strategy execution. Consider thus exciting things like data analytics, performance management, finance and budgeting processes, incentive systems, and knowledge and risk management.

People drive strategy, good strategies drive people

A good strategy is developed and executed by going on a journey with the people in the company. As such strategy is about motivating and mobilizing people for the purpose and dreams of your organization.

Those who know the father of this definition (i.e., professor Werner Bruggeman) know that it comes along with a knee swing and jump. Organizations that understand how to ignite intrinsic motivators of people are more dynamic and resilient. Without a doubt 2 important ingredients to be successful.

The power of co-creation

People embrace what they create, and co-creation is essential in an effective approach to strategy. Co-creation is a good facilitation technique to formulate strategies as it increases the quality of the choices defined. Further, it positively impacts employee ownership by involving people and offering them the opportunity to influence the future direction of your organization.

Of course, setting the future direction and making ultimate strategic choices remain the key roles of the executive committee. After all, it has the responsibility for the daily management and it is accountable to the board. However, by involving groups of employees in choosing the direction and letting them influence the outcome of the strategy process, you facilitate the achievement of alignment between organizational, team and individual goals. This way, you create a positive drive for the realization of your organizational ambitions.

3 simple rules that make strategy effective

Are you ready for a strategy challenge? Just remember that, as a strategist, you realize the full potential of your strategy by spending some effort on:

  1. turning ideas into practice that significantly and sustainably add to the performance of your organization
  2. mobilizing and motivating people at all levels of your organization. People’s roles might be different, but execution requires contribution of everyone.
  3. fostering co-creation. It unleashes the competencies and capabilities of the crowd and adds to the ownership of the chosen directions.


Valerie Decoene. You can connect with Valerie on LinkedIn
Geert Scheipers. You can follow Geert on Twitter (@g_scheipers) or connect with him on LinkedIn