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About Strategy

Organisations need to reconsider the way they shape the strategic process. The time that this process is linear has gone. In the past strategy was a logic sequence of definition, execution and evaluation. It was enough to define targets and cascade them downwards.

That is no longer enough. And probably organizations that have shaped strategic processes linearly have missed many opportunities. They adapted the strategic process to internal realities. They did not look at the external urgencies. Needless to say that these urgencies have only increased in number but also in intensity. In the past 10 years we have witnessed an accelerating disruption of many industries.

This requires a different approach to how organizations are structured and led. Leadership, structure and managerial practices should reflect the outside urgencies.

The way an organization is led, should reflect the external urgencies more than the internal realities.


]When considering this, you can say that strategies will be more successful when they allow for alignment, cooperation and agility.

From Alignment to Emergence

Alignment is no longer a linear top-down process. More than ever before the bottom-up movement will be crucial. People working close to the customer are important sources. A cerebral and analytic approach is at least completed by a more emotional and experiential input.

Strategy definition and execution merge into an iterative process of exchange between teams, leadership levels, internal and external parties. This means that customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders become a part of the strategy process. It also means that strategic objectives will emerge, rather than be dictated.

From Steering to Collaboration

Strategy execution is no longer mainly a matter of steering. It’s a matter of collaboration. The fight against the disease of silo-thinking and against the definition of the organization in terms of ┬álimitations and borders must lead to a more fluid organization. This kind of organization has the ability to shape itself around the necessities.

The name of the game is collaboration. Any strategy must enable a culture of cooperation. And organizational structures must be reviewed in function of this collaboration. One important aspect of strategy execution is that all obstacles to collaboration must be eradicated.

Collaboration is the single most important element of an agile organization. Strategy must enable a culture of collaboration.

From Employeeship to Entrepreneurship

Strategy execution depends on the people working together to achieve common targets. Emergence and a culture of collaboration should enable people to take responsibility for their actions. a culture of collaboration also means that there is accountability. Instead of being exemplary employees, organizations need energetic entrepreneurs.

So all people practices that smother initiatives should be removed. Demotivating performance management schemes e.g. should not be accepted. Entrepreneurial behaviour should be fostered at all cost.

Instead of exemplary employees, organizations need energetic entrepreneurs.


Strategy is Design

I see strategy execution as a design and change process. It’s crucial to align these three levels and be consistent.

  • Leadership and strategy
  • Organization and culture
  • Behaviour and Motivation

If you can approach strategy like this, the accent moves from definition to execution. And if you’re focusing on execution, our approach gives you the handles you need to make sure your strategic process is successful.

David Ducheyne is the founder of Otolith. As a former HR and business leader he focuses now on humanising strategy execution.

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