EXTRACT YOUR (DIGITAL) STRATEGY

It sounds a bit strange to talk about governance in the same way as strategy, but that is exactly what good governance is, make sure the organization knows where it’s going to, and make sure the organization gets there!

“Designing a winning strategy is the art of asking questions, experimenting, and then constantly renewing the thinking process by questioning the answers. No matter how good today’s strategy is, you must always keep reinventing it.” Constantinos Markides

We see the best overarching way of looking at strategy using the governance model described in ISO/IEC38500. It’s simple and eloquently describes the role of an organization’s board and executive management team.

It sounds a bit strange to talk about governance in the same way as strategy, but that is exactly what good governance is, make sure the organization knows where it’s going to, and make sure the organization gets there!

For those who don't know, we use a method called Agile ADapT™ to help traditional industrial age organizations transform digitally. The method comprises three stages EXTRACT (your strategy), EXPLORE (your options and innovate), and EXPAND (value delivery and business agility). After five years of development, and a years worth of painstaking refinement, ADapT is now only nine steps (three per phase), that any organisation can take to digitally transform. This article is part of a collection of articles that talks about the ideas in ADapT. We will start that journey with EXTRACT (as you may have gathered from the headline).

ISO/IEC38500 proposes a pragmatic method of ensuring proper governance and divides responsibilities between the governing body and management. We postulate that an element is missing in the area of responsibility of the governing body, strategy.

In ISO/IEC38500, the first statement splits into two distinct activities — Evaluate and Direct — but because we will focus on the ROLE of the governing body in this article and not on governance, there is a piece missing here. The missing piece is a crucial element, and that action is called STRATEGY.

EVALUATE YOUR STRATEGIC POSITION

“It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and then do your best” — W Edwards Deming.

Every journey needs to consider two important factors; the same is true for the strategic journey — you need to know where they are and where you are going.

Strategic Evaluation initially creates a baseline and then evaluates past decisions against performance achieved.

Evaluate looks at the Macro environment, doing something like PESTLE analysis; it looks at the Microenvironment — the market — and here tools like Porter’s Five Forces and others may be helpful. We also need to understand stakeholder needs, including customers and users (here, we have lots of value to add to fill in the gaps and build what we call a customer-centric strategy, once again, more on that in a future article).

Finally, we get feedback from inside the organization at the organization’s needs, organizational stakeholders such as employees, progress made against the strategic direction given in the past, and broad-based organization performance and conformance.

But before we start — we need to clarify one specific issue.

Organizations traditionally define their strategy from a specific perspective, focusing on the market, their products, or their customers.

Each of these implies different ways of judging the success of the organization.

There seems to be a marked shift towards a customer-based focus on strategy, and we think the reason is quite simple!

The products offered in a market are vast these days, and the rate of change and improvement phenomenal. Customers need and want, and stay abreast with the needs, wishes, and wants or desires of customers force organizations to consider shifting their strategy towards developing a new, customer-focused, digitally friendly strategy!

The need for constant improvement and innovation to remain competitive leaves organizations no choice but to consider changing their approach if they are not already using a customer-focused strategy.

Yes, we know that there are those few industries where disruption has not YET had a marked effect, and yes, you can still happily use a market or product strategy in those instances, but we used the word YET.

We don’t think any industry has the luxury of not focusing on a deep understanding of their customers’ needs, wants, and whims. We also believe that if you choose to ignore customer needs largely and their wishes and whims, you are heading for the ravine!

The above is true whether your business is B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consuming). Much of the input into our approach is understanding customer needs (regardless of the type of customer).

However, sometimes we know and understand where to look by also analyzing the market as a whole and do competitive product evaluations and analysis — but NEVER as an exclusive means of setting strategy!

Although we advocate a customer-centric strategy, we do not disregard the insights gained from methods used when formulating either a product or market-centric strategy.

That being said, the conversation starts at a much higher level.

To be continued….

Johann Botha, a digital change provocateur & getITright® CEO. Transform & build organizational agility, & digital-age capabilities. Consultant, speaker & author