The Practice of Strategy

Doing the right thing wrong is better than doing the wrong thing right

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Highlights from the CSO conference – London


I just returned from the Chief Strateg Officer summit that was held in London last week where I spoke about organizational complexities and the struggle with strategy implementation.  This was my third CSO summit (attended one and spoke at two) and the conference is getting better and better in terms of content and speakers.

I was glad to see Professor Richard Whittington again. I first met Richard exactly a year ago at the same conference. PhD students and graduates would tell you how exciting it is when you meet the person whose work (strategy-as-practice) was the basis of the conceptual framework in your doctoral study. Richard spoke about the concept of open strategy. He argues that strategy is getting more ‘open’, in two senses. First, strategy processes are becoming more inclusive with regard to internal and external constituencies, with greater engagement of employees and consultation with partners. Second, strategies are becoming more transparent internally and externally, with more information either being deliberately shared or, sometimes, inadvertently leaked.

I was also excited to meet Professor Norman Sheehan of the University of Saskatchewan, who shares my interest in strategy implementation. We had a nice chat about how most of the available strategy frameworks, including the balanced scorecard, miss the human and psychological elements of the strategy process.

There were some great presentations during the conference, but I particularly enjoyed the  one by @LiorStrativity. Lior spoke about why becoming customer centric should be a top priority for every organization today. His insights were based on over 150 transformation projects in 21 countries. Thanks for the free book, Lior.

Finally, I would like to talk about my own presentation. Unlike most speakers in these professionals conferences, I did not share how we did something at my company. Instead, I wanted to share a complex idea with other strategists. And that, I believe, made my task much harder. The primary challenge I had was remembering all the points that I wanted to cover with each slide. It would have been much easier for me if I had more text on the slides to help me with that. But when it came to designing my presentation slides, I had to choose between two things: Either make slides that are full of text and bullets points that would bore the audience, or design slides based on full images and minimal text to work visual aids that will grab the attention of the audience and remain with them way beyond the 20-minutes presentation. I chose the latter. I put the audience first. It’s obvious that I still need to continue working on my presentation skills. But given this was my second conference presentation, I am sure the next one will be better.