• Mirjami Sipponen

Stop planning – it’s useless

If someone woke you up at night and asked what’s your organisation’s strategy, what would you answer? What do you think your colleagues would answer?

Strategy, initially, was a plan for winning the war. The organisational battlefields are however becoming more and more complex to understand. Who are the allies and who are enemies? Who’s inside the army and who’s out? Who commands and who follows commands? It’s difficult to make any sense of it, not least because the panorama is constantly changing.

What comes to strategic management, on theoretical level there seems to be an increasing consensus that the old planning – implementation model does not work anymore. Planning is obsolete, as it gets out-dated from the moment you leave the meeting room. However, translating that consensus into organisations’ everyday reality is far from easy. Should we just abandon planning and start doing whatever we feel like? Can people decide whatever they want? That would be fantastic – or a nightmare – depending on who do you ask. But probably for everyone it would be quite frustrating in the long run. Therefore, even if not optimal, many organisations stick to the good old planning – implementation model.

What’s needed?

To cope with the constantly changing world organisations need to adopt new processes to gather information and react timely to it. They need to make sure that there is a shortcut from the front line to the C-suite. People need to be able to make decisions at all levels. Everyone needs to learn to cope with uncertainty, as there is no way out from it.

To keep the focus, organisations need more than ever clear guidelines: every employee must know where the organisation is going and what values should guide their everyday behaviours and decisions. Defining those (together) could be a place to start.

Now in the beginning of a new year many organisations start developing and updating their strategies. Before you get in that strategy workshop or meeting, I suggest that you take two steps back and raise two questions: “What do WE mean by the word strategy”? and “Is that meaning aligned with our current reality?” Just to make sure that you start from the same page, and look to the right direction.

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