Realizing strategy and smart organizations

“Creativity is thinking new things, innovation is doing new things”

Theodore Levitt

How can we ensure success tomorrow while we deliver today?

The world is changing in an ever increasing speed and this has led to dramatically changed conditions for organizations. In history focusing on economies of scale, tailor made, innovation or brand – being Big, Best, Fast or Beautiful – was enough to become successful. The great challenge organizations face today is how to be able adapt to a changing environment – both in pace and magnitude – and simultaneously perform on a day to day basis. This challenge demands a clear focus. Strategy today must be more about acting and adapting and less about planning. Organizations need to abandon the existing idea that strategy is reserved to the top management. Strategy and change are so tightly connected to each other that they have to permeate the entire company. A good strategy, is the one that is executed. It is the realization of strategies that determine competitiveness and success, not planning. If more members of an organization from various levels of the hierarchies and functions are involved in the strategy work, the easier it is to set relevant goals and strategies that a larger proportion of the organization understand and are willing to stand behind. This drastically changes the possibility to realize what you set up.

Organizations are populated by people. All values of an organization are created by the behaviors of an organization. Times change, markets change, people’s behaviors change in every new context, but the laws that control human behavior are constant. People use behaviors that have proven successful in similar contexts in the history. An organizations strength to repeat a success is therefore also a weakness. Today’s truths easily risk becoming tomorrow’s. To create an innovative and change willing climate, organizations need to find ways to question and challenge existing norms in their branch of industry and their organization.

Feedback drives all behaviors. By focusing on behavior and on reinforcing positive behaviors that creates actual results you can generate an organization where member perform because they want to, not because they have to. No feedback is also feedback. Unfortunately it is uncommon that organizations deliberately work systematically and conscious to actively reinforce the “right” behaviors. “If something is wrong you will notice”, is a common approach that often creates a punishing organizational culture. A culture that inhibits creativity, innovation and performance and is devastating to long term success.

Traditionally organizations invest approximately 80 % of their managing time on sending out signals to the organization on what to do, and only 20 % of their time on following up, providing feedback and drawing conclusions from the work that is done. Research show that the relation in terms of influence on behavior is the opposite. Antecedents count for 20 % of the influence and consequences for 80 %. By shifting the way of working and spending 80 % of the time on following up, providing feedback and learning from experiences there is a chance to create an organization that is more adaptable to its environment and that reaches better results – on short and long term.

Long term success demands that organizations work smart. By delegating the responsibility of the continuous change of the organization on its members, it is possible to create a will and a commitment from the members to contribute to the mutual future of the organization. Encourage members to question, try new ideas, take certain risks and even fail. Those who never fail do not try hard enough. Provide the opportunity for employees to spend time in projects in other parts of the organization and establish a way of managing and reinforcing new ideas from the entire organization. That is how to create an organization that exploits the entire organizational capacity, increases the chances of identifying the next big thing and becomes successful over a long period of time.