Monday, May 29, 2017

Choosing the Right Strategy is Key

In the article Your strategy Needs a Strategy, the authors discuss how matching one’s strategic style to their industry leads to success.  Many times, leaders get stuck in their ways and continue to use a strategic style that may not be the best fit for the industry they are in.  The two key factors of predictability and malleability create the four strategic styles.  These styles are classical, adaptive, shaping, and visionary.

In my military experience, I have witnessed how a change in the operating environment can limit the effectiveness of the unit if the leader does not change their strategic style.  During my previous tour I was assigned to a helicopter squadron.  While operating at homeguard (stateside), the mission was always training.  The strategy and planning of training missions was well laid out knowing a year in advance when specific detachments would be deployed.  This led itself well to the classical strategic style being successful.  The Officer in Charge (OIC) and the Operations Officer could map out the training missions and qualifications for a detachment a year in advance and roughly stick to that schedule with minor hiccups along the way.  The maintenance schedules and inspections of aircraft could easily be worked into the long range plan with all the information at hand.  The detachment that I was a part of ran smoothly at homeguard with plans laid out well in advance.

When my detachment was deployed overseas, the operational execution of missions was not as smooth as it could have been.  The OIC had success with his classical style back at homeguard and he continued with that style on deployment.  This led to attempting to plan missions, aircraft maintenance schedules, and long range schedules without sufficient knowledge to be successful.  While on deployment, we were working with up to 6 different Navies at a time and NATO.  We could plan for a mission the night before and then the day of have it changed to something completely different.  Sometimes the mission would change several times within an hour.  The first few months of deployment were a struggle and the detachment would often rewrite plans over and over again every time something changed.  About halfway through the deployment, the OIC started to realize all this rewriting was a waste of time.  The ever changing deployment environment led itself much better to an adaptive strategy style.  Flexibility was the key to success and once the OIC realized this, the detachment operated much smoother.  Long term schedules no longer needed tons of detail, just a general outline was sufficient.  Just a change in everyone’s mindset helped to improve the situation as well.  Over time, you realize that the situation will continually change no matter what and you just have to make the best decisions from the information you have at the time.

Looking back at my past experiences, I can say that choosing the right strategy for your particular situation can have a huge impact.  Pick the wrong strategy and you’ll limit your success and most likely do needless work.  Pick the right strategy and watch how things improve.

- Tony Capotosto       

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