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Greg Githens is the author of How to Think Strategically (2019). He is a recognized thought leader in designing and delivering strategic initiatives.
Read these recent articles
- The Skills Stack for Resilience
- Five tips for speaking truth to power
- Better Conversations Generate Better Strategy
- Insights Are the Secret Sauce of Strategy
- How a Strategic Decision Differs From a Tactical Decision
- Unlearning, learning, and a culture of strategic thinking
- How Mapping Can Improve Your Strategic Thinking
- How to Measure Business Acumen
- Strategy Execution as a Learning Process
- Why I favor a mental stance of disorder
- Critical Asking
- Transcending the Status Quo
- Connecting Strategy to Execution
- Complexity: Four Principles for Program Managers
- Use the PAVER Framework to Assure Strategic Commitments
- Strategic Experiments & Agile Responses
- Avoiding Four Pitfalls of Rapid Growth
- Operational Excellence or Strategic Excellence?
- Design Thinking: Five Landmarks for Strategic Initiatives
- Seven Must-Do’s for Better Strategy Execution
- Strategy as Problem Solving: An Example from a Large Technology Organization.
- Five Mental Anchors that Impede Your Strategic Initiative
- Five Must-Know Patterns of Disruption
- Beginners Guide: Competent Strategic Initiatives
- Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, & Ambiguity (VUCA)
- Four Recommendations for Effective Program Governance
- Six Strategic Thinking Skills: Developing the Proactiveness Habit
- What’s the #Strategy? Let Me Tell You a #Story
- Benefits of Being a Visible Expert
- Strategy is Not Long-Range Planning, Vision, Mission, or Values
- Five Ways to Involve Smart New Voices in the Strategy & Agile Innovation Conversation
- Is it Possible to Have a Perfect Strategy?
- Facilitating the Business Model Canvas: A Few Lessons Learned (Part 1)
- Designing Strategic Initiatives for Results: The Two Kinds of Coherence
- Perspective is More Powerful than Vision
- The Real Reason Strategy Implementation is Difficult (and the Solution to It)
- Grasping Essentials When You’re NOT the Expert
Talk to the ExpertNeed a strategic planning facilitator, implementation coach, neutral mediator, workshop, seminar, or hands-on program manager? Greg Githens provides coaching, workshops, hands-on, and more. Contact him at GregoryDGithens@cs.com or 419.424.1164
- Ambiguity and Strong-Minded Thinking
- Competencies of Strategic Initiative Leaders
- Examples of Strategic Initiatives
- How to Improve Your Story Telling Chops
- Incremental Benefits Delivery
- Interpreting Strategy Documents
- Program & Portfolio Management
- Strategic Planning Issues for Strategic Initiatives
- Strategy Coaching and Facilitation
- Strategy, Ambiguity, and Strong-Minded Thinking
- Success Principles for Strategic Initiatives
- Transforming the Organization
- Useful Practices & Management Tools
Tag Archives: Strategic initiative
What can a person do when he needs to quickly grasp essential knowledge and there is little opportunity to delegate the decision to an expert? This article provides you learn a technique for improving the effectiveness of your learning of specialist knowledge. I discovered a solution that finds a middle ground between formalized textbook-style learning and muddling through. This approach, works by asking focus questions and constructing propositions. The result is a hierarchical concept maps that renders a scaffold of relevant knowledge.I heartily endorse concept maps as a useful tool and hope you will practice and build skill. They are deceptively simple when you see a good one that has been developed by someone else. I encourage you to persist.
Coherence means that things make sense. In the context of strategy, it means that the committed resources, policies, and actions are consistent and coordinated. A plan is only a good plan if it makes good sense. Unfortunately, most organizations pursue multiple objectives that are unconnected with one another (and sometimes even conflict).They are anything but coherent! Insert the concept of coherence into your discussions. How? One way is to ask simple questions, “Does this make sense? Where are the gaps? Are there conflicting objectives?” Another way to encourage coherence is to activate the Chief Story Teller role. Imposing coherence and discipline on an organization is difficult and takes hard work by the strategic initiative leader.
This article concludes with five recommendations for prioritizing strategic initiatives. It describes a the challenges that organizations face with too many projects, and explains that strategy is used to screen all of these important – or so-called strategic – projects into a much smaller portfolio of projects.
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Scope creep is a frequently-heard complaint. The word scope is ambiguous; experience shows that even highly experienced and trained professionals cannot agree on its meaning. The Includes-Excludes Table is a simple two-column table with the word “in” placed at the top of the left column and “out” at the top of the right column. It helps us to visualize scope creep as something that was determined to be “out” now has crept over the line to become “in.” The advice for the strategic initiative leader is straightforward: pay attention to the partitioning of in and out. Don’t let something that is out cross the line unless you understand the impacts on the governance of the program. Also, use preferred modifiers: Problem Scope, Product Scope, and Work Scope.
This process of describing the in and out, and making choices, encourages the strategist to think about their business model in a more complete and logical way. The Includes-Excludes Table can help you stay focused on root causes and core strategic problems. They key is to maintain a focus on the problem scope, and avoid the tendency to start designing solutions and implementing them.
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Strategy is inherently ambiguous, with goals and expectations differing depending upon the stakeholder. Because people tend to feel uncomfortable with ambiguity, a leader needs to clear the fog; a process that is best called gaining perspective. Before the leader can help others, s/he needs to clarify their her/his own view of the rewards and the risks. This article identifies three useful questions for gaining perspective: What do I want to achieve? What do I want to preserve? What do I want to avoid? First answer this for the individual, then for the group. The article provides an example of its application by a newly promoted vice president sponsoring improvements to new product development productivity.
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Leaders should see strategy as a narrative arc from the founding to the present launch of a strategic initiative. The techniques of corporate time lines and identifying turning points help with the analysis. Then, future cast for a new vision with these questions:What present problems and opportunities are relevant to our future? What are the scenarios of the future? Where (and over whom) will we find advantage? What are the insights? A current strategic initiative could be seen as an episode of an organization’s history, with a turning point. Continue reading
Strategic alliances are a growing subset of strategic initiatives. A Strategic Alliance is a relationship between two or more parties where they collaborate to capture an opportunity or extend their reach into complementary areas. Author and consultant Greg Githens has participated in many strategic alliances, both as a leader and as a consultant and offers three tips that will increase the probability of success. Tip #1 – Meet in Person, Frequently. Tip #2 – Find and Articulate Strategic Insights. Tip #3 – Explicitly discuss risks, risk tolerances and risk response strategies. Continue reading
Observations of a new product development kickoff strategic initiative. Cultural challenges make the natural ambiguity of strategy even more difficult. Three good practices are 1. travel the world and get in front of stakeholders, 2. Identify key contributors and help them step up, 3. Initial milestones are guidelines; not millstones around your neck. Continue reading
Renew Blue is the name of a strategic initiative intended to reverse the competitive decline of Best Buy. This article analyzes the initiative’s strategy and raises questions about the correctness of the situation diagnosis. It examines the Renew Blue vision & strategic pillars, and concludes with a list of 7 learnings for leaders of strategic initiatives. Continue reading
Gaining the commitment of the right resources is arguably the greatest success factor for strategic initiatives. I inevitably hear people on the strategic initiative team verbalize this pattern: “This performance gap is huge and needs to be addressed. I am happy to be part of the solution. But where am I going to find time to participate?” When resourcing of a strategic initiative, follow this rule, “Each key player in the strategic initiative must devote at least 20% of their time to the initiative.” The article also includes a list of five challenges for resourcing a strategic initiative: Ambiguity about purpose, Novelty, Run-the-business work consumes time, Corporate-level budgeting & talent management processes don’t plan with enough granularity, Burn-out and balance of personal life with work life. Continue reading