The dilemma of strategy

We have previously proposed a strategy template. But it raises a new problem: the tension between focus areas and goals!

Let’s try to understand the forces involved.


The Strategy Template

OKRs and strategy are linked. This is why, to write effective objectives, we must build and communicate our strategy, company, product, …
In a previous article, we proposed a model to formalize and communicate the strategy.

We will now focus on Focus Areas and Goals. Little reminder:

A strategy template


Goals are the medium-term strategic project, its strategic priorities for 3 to 5 years. They are expressed in the form of results.

This is what should make the activities of tomorrow emerge. Not only what guides the direction and the big decisions of the organization. But also, the horizon for new high growth activities.

Focus Area

These are the activities you want to focus on and spend time on. They allow you to consolidate your strengths by developing centers of excellence or areas of expertise. These are your skills allowing you to execute the strategy in addition to a suitable organization and managerial system.

Each of your values ​​should have a few areas of focus. These measurable areas of focus that will secure your values. That is the reason we need values when designing the strategy. Values are not only related to the company’s culture.

Tension between Focus Areas and Goals

The dilemma of strategy

Why a dilemma? Because strategy imposes the stability of an organization. Where there is no stability, there is no strategy. This is why in a VUCA world, the strategy quickly becomes a priori secondary.
Moreover, the very fact of having a strategy creates resistance to any strategic change!
And that can be a good thing because these phases of stability are necessary to exploit the strategy and develop the right skills.

This is why Jeff Bezos focuses on the stable elements, which will still be true in 10 years, to build his strategy:

Customers want to receive their goods as quickly as possible and as cheaply as possible!

Moreover, strategic reorientations can be real cultural revolutions. We see it with the digital strategy, and its transformation of the culture of the organization. This is also the case with agile transformation. This can eventually change core values! Even lead the organization to seek a new raison d’être.

Tension between Focus Areas and Goals

The fundamental dilemma in strategy design is the need to reconcile the forces of stability and those of change:

  • The forces of stability are found in the Focus Areas (and the values ​​of the company).
  • While the forces of change are in the Goals.


The dilemma of strategy

Reconcile the forces of stability and those of change

To solve this dilemma, the strategy represents the mediating force between a dynamic environment and a stable operating system.

This is what frameworks such as the 3 horizons model of McKinsey or organizational models such as ambidextrous organization and its vacillation strategy (alternating exploitation and exploration within the same company) seek to solve. Structurally.


What’s next?

The three horizons model

In a future article we will seek to reconcile our strategy model and this model of the 3 horizons.

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