This research was initially framed as an inquiry into how organisations engage with strategy and how it shows up in the day-to-day realities of organisational practice and routines. The scoping process started in early 2022 when the continuing impact of the recent pandemic was still in everyone’s consciousness.
Going into these conversations, we tried not to carry too many assumptions about how organisations should go about doing strategy or what it means to strategise. Indeed, we even avoided being explicit about what strategy work does or does not include. However, we noticed that clients used a range of terminology with some referring only to a formulation phase whilst others talked about a flow of work (a process) that included formulation, engagement, and delivery, with ongoing learning and iteration.
We became particularly interested in the metaphors and imagery that people held in mind. It became clear that their mental models seemed fundamental to how they sought to engage others in strategising. We noticed, too, a variety of internal and external factors such as cultural and external contexts that led to a default to well-established routines and behaviours.
What we didn’t expect was that the centrality of ‘purpose’ would become so prominent: a rich thread emerging as the research process evolved. It was certainly not where we started nor where we thought we would end up.
So, given all of this we wondered:
– How are leaders approaching strategy in this increasingly unpredictable world?
– What are they learning from the experience that helps them to continue to adapt and evolve their approach?
– What does this mean for engaging people in the process of strategy development?