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Dealing with complex strategic challenges

Sometimes it can be difficult to follow a structured approach to strategy development, when faced with one or more of the following challenges :

– apparently unresolvable differences between different stakeholders e.g. employees, shareholders, creditors, government. This can happen when different stakeholders have different values and priorities.

difficulty in identifying the root cause (s) of multi dimensional problems. The absence of a single interpretation of ‘the facts’ makes meaningful discussion of strategic options problematic.

– the business operates in a fast changing market, or one where the industry boundaries are becoming blurred.

– when the challenges facing the organization have no precedent, and therefore ‘traditional’ strategic options are not relevant.

The first step in dealing with complex strategic challenges is to acknowledge the complexity.  In can be tempting to latch onto one interpretation of a complex situation. False ‘certainty’ is not a good foundation for sound strategic planning.

Secondly, seek to get a shared understanding of the different aspects of the complexity amongst stakeholders, and agree a way of managing the situation until there is greater clarity as to the options for going forward.

Thirdly, communicate the challenge widely across the organization and seek creative solutions from stakeholders.

Fourthly, review the organization’s corporate identity, the ‘Why’ of the business. What are it’s unique strengths, and ways in which it can add value into the future. This review may take some time to tease out and may result in a redefinition of the organization’s  mission/vision.

Finally, have an action plan. It can be tempting to do nothing when faced with uncertainty. There are always steps to be taken to progress the development of strategy.

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