Why Inclusive Strategizing Works: All On Board!

By Govert van Sandwijk · August 9, 2019 · Posted in: Collaboration, Design Thinking, Strategy Facilitation, Teamwork, Workshops

Inclusive Strategy

Strategizing can be tough. Getting everyone from your business together, gathering opinions, and trying to reach a consensus on what really matters.

Where do we want to be five years from now?

What markets do we want to reach?

How do we make it happen?

You could outsource your strategy to specialist consultants, as many organizations have done before. Invite them to craft your direction and map out your path, taking the legwork off your team’s plates and leaving people with little to do but follow it. Turn up at work, channel their efforts, and (hopefully) tick off the milestones along a set path.

It makes perfect sense in theory, but implementing someone else’s strategy doesn’t translate well in practice. To succeed, to make a difference, your strategy needs to matter.
And a strategy starts to matter when you let people get involved.

A Dragon Boat Strategy

To invest in anything—from stocks to strategy—people must view it as worthwhile. If they don’t have a say, can’t weigh in or contribute, people will lack the drive to make it work. And if everybody isn’t on board, people, teams, and departments go in different directions.

Think of it as a dragon boat. These traditional Chinese canoe-like boats are painstakingly built from the finest teak and carefully shaped, carved, and painted into fearsome designs to resemble a mythical beast that represents power, strength, and success. At the back of the boat sits a drummer, who pounds out the dragon’s heartbeat and sets the tone for a race.

But unless all 22 rowers paddle in unison, a dragon boat won’t go anywhere fast. It won’t even go in a straight line, let alone win any races.

Many companies will happily go out and invest in a dragon boat—a strategy—but mistakenly assume this is enough for competitive success.

Now imagine they had spent that effort designing the dragon and taming it together, instead?

Inclusive Strategy = Intrinsic Motivation

Inclusive strategizing brings teams together to shape and contribute to their strategy. Everybody weighs in with their insight and experience, bringing their knowledge and expertise to the table for a high-participation strategic design process. When they get together over a series of workshops, synergistic results can be achieved at a rapid pace.

Yennifer may know where to find the best quality teak for their dragon boat, and Dimitri might suggest cost-effective designs for the paddles. Juliao might weigh in with local knowledge on the best tides, rocky spots, and rivals to beat. As an experienced racer, Sofie might create a training program.

Inclusive strategy gives a team momentum, which drives ideation, through plan creation, to concrete goal setting and pathway generation. It uses situational and key trend analysis, and empathizing with future customers for improved insight through collective intelligence.

Because everyone is involved from the very start, each person’s intelligence and situational awareness is drawn on, allowing for true ownership. Over a very few, intensive inclusive strategizing sessions, a management team can move from unspoken, internal knowledge to establishing clear goals and creating an action plan. Fuelled by passion and the desire to enact their own strategy, teams start on the right foot (and the same foot!) for a long-term commitment to success.

Cookie-cutter strategies can shape an excellent path for your company to follow, but without real involvement, people can only care so much. Buying a bigger, flashier, or even a more streamlined dragon boat is simply throwing good money after bad when what’s missing is a sense of ownership and purpose. It only makes sense to get everybody involved in deciding what goals they care about, and how they want to achieve them.

Time To Grow Global works with large multinationals and small companies alike to custom create Inclusive Strategizing Sequences for your organization. We can engage your team in a bespoke sequence that includes personalized workshops combining analytical, and Design Thinking approaches, so it can create its own strategy. Drop us a line.

Govert is Time To Grow Global’s Managing Partner, specializing in Strategy Facilitation, Leadership development and Organisational performance. Reach him on our Time To Grow Global LinkedIn.

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