March 30, 2014

Corporate Dictators Gone Wild

Interesting book review in the Wall Street Journal on Moments of Impact--corporate strategy meetings. 

The authors, Ertel and Solomon, see strategy meetings as critical for "to confront radical challenges" "cope with fast-changing threats", and confront competition.

It is an opportunity to:

- Look at the big picture, including industry trends.

- Hear different points of view from as broad array of perspectives as possible (instead of the usual "fences and silos" that prevail in corporate life).

- Decide to change ("Creative Adaptation") or to stay with tried and true strategies ("stick to their knitting").

The book reviewer, Adrian Woolridge, though has a much more skeptical view of these strategy sessions calling them "dull, unstructured time-sucks" and "more often than not, [they're] a huge waste of time":


- They produce "airy-fairy nonsense."

- Rather than abandoning the corporate hierarchy, the sessions anchor in "status hierarchy."

- Outside strategy "experts" brought in "are nothing more than cliche-mongers."

- The "games" are silly and non-impactful.

- Often rather than strategic conversations, we get "lazy consensus," where decisions are driven by senior managers with a bone to pick or a reorganization in mind.

What's the usual, somewhere in between these 2 states of idealism and cynicism.

We can choose to take planning seriously to bring people together to solve problems creatively and gain consensus and commitment or we can use strategy as bogus cheerleading sessions and to manipulate the sheep to do what the seniors already know they want.

If we really work as a team to press forward then we can accomplish great things through our diversity and strength, but if strategy is nothing but corporate dictators gone wild, then the cause is already lost to the competition.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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