Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Act and reflect, reflect and act

A potentially successful company needs a solid strategy to get the superior position on the market. As it was said in the articles provided for this week's class, there exist a lot of different types of strategies, so that every firm can definitely find the one that suits it best. In the paper "The Real Value of Strategic Planning" by Sarah Kaplan and Eric D. Beinhocker the authors explain what is the most efficient way of conducting strategy planning. Its main purpose is to "build prepared minds" so that employees of different levels can then make successful strategic decisions. The article is a great resource of step-by-step instructions of how to organize the strategic planning process. Thorough planning then allows to successfully implement the strategy and get the maximum benefit out of it.
The question that is rarely mentioned but is still very important is "Does this strategy work well for the company?" Obviously, what firms need is a solid tool for conducting analysis of implemented strategies in order to understand what went well, what didn't, and why.
In the article "Your Strategy Needs a Strategy" by Martin Reeves, Claire Love, and Philipp Tillmanns the authors mention enormous companies' efforts to make predictions and design a good strategy, but " it's surprising how rarely they check to see if the predictions they made in the prior year actually panned out".
Umair Haque, the author of the blog article "Making Room for Reflection Is a Strategic Imperative" suggests that companies should "stop doing what they do" to have a room for deep analysis, thinking and reflecting. He also points out that reflection is not a waste of time at all. Not only it is a solid tool for understanding the reasons of the current state of affairs, but it is also a great source of innovation and deeper meaning, which can lead to more efficient decisions. Umair Haque also proposes a framework for reflection. Strategists should evaluate items 1-3 below in terms of how they were implemented and what could be changed.
  1. Why. Why are we doing this? What is our fundamental goal?
  2. What. What are we doing to achieve the goals from "Why"
  3. Which.  Which services, products, and connections lead to the most efficient ways of achieving the goals?
Below are the tips of how to make the most out of the reflection process.

  • Primarify. Reflect on primary data: talk to clients, buyers, suppliers, and investors face-to-face.
  • Qualify. Pay close attention to qualitative data rather than just to numbers. This helps reveal perspectives about real human experience.
  • Simplify. Make reflective statements easy to understand for people outside the boardroom. That way the insights would be easy to adapt for everyone in the company, and the changes would happen faster.

Pic.1 Think, Act, and Reflect

Thus, every company needs to basically follow a simple rule: think, act, reflect and then think again. This combination of iteratively repeated tasks can lead to creating unique strategy suitable for this specific company and its environment. To sum up, reflecting and analyzing the current strategy is crucial, because it is only a silly fish that is caught twice with the same bait.

P. S. In addition, the reflecting approach is widely used in different areas other than business. For instance, in design. Famous thinker Donald Schön , the author of the book "The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action" wrote about different reflection types. Briefly, a designer should "reflect in-action", which means thinking of advantages and drawbacks of the product while in process of creating it. Also, a designer should "reflect on action" which helps step back from the process and look critically at what was done after some time. Combining two reflection approaches would help seeing the idea and its outcome from different perspectives. In these terms, companies also need to "reflect on action", to think about the strategy they were implementing and why it worked or not.

2. "Your Strategy Needs a Strategy" by Martin Reeves, Claire Love, and Philipp Tillmanns
3. "The Real Value of Strategic Planning" by Sarah Kaplan and Eric D. Beinhocker
4. Reflective Practice

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