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Why a perfect strategy is a myth

The persistent idea of a perfect strategy is a myth. The notion that a strategy can be devised to anticipate all future outcomes and provide a perfect solution to any problem is simply unfeasible.

To write the perfect strategy, you would need to have perfect foresight into the future, which sounds incredible, but unreal.

Let’s be realistic

The future is unpredictable and is constantly changing, making it impossible to create the perfect strategy.

An organisation's strategy is essentially a hypothesis of how to prosper in an anticipated future environment. This means that the strategy is based on;

  • assumptions about what the future will look like

  • assumptions about how the organisation can best position itself to take advantage of those conditions

Since the future is unpredictable, these assumptions will likely be inaccurate, and the strategy will need to be adapted as new information becomes available.

Why create a strategy at all?

The fact that a perfect strategy is unattainable does not mean that a strategy is not necessary. On the contrary, having a strategy is an essential learning tool for any organisation that wants to succeed in a highly competitive environment.

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower

A strategy provides a roadmap, outlining goals, objectives, and steps needed to achieve them. It helps the organisation focus resources and make better decisions by providing a framework for evaluating different options. However, it is important to recognise that a strategy is not a fixed document; it needs continuous testing and adaptation as future realities reveal themselves.

Design an adaptive strategy through foresighting

Rather than pursuing perfection, the goal is adaptability. Organisations need to be agile and flexible, capable of responding quickly to changes in the environment.

Regular foresighting exercises, like scenario planning, can help ensure an organisation's strategy remains relevant. Scenario planning involves developing different scenarios for the future, assessing how well the organisation's strategy would perform under each, identifying potential risks and opportunities, and determining 'no regret moves' irrespective of the future scenario.

Build a robust strategy through collaboration

Another important aspect of developing a successful strategy is to involve a range of stakeholders in the process. This includes strategic foresighting, setting a clear direction and implementing it; what we like to call ‘bringing the strategy to life’.

Involving not just senior executives, but also employees, customers, suppliers, and other external stakeholders allows for a wider range of perspectives, which helps develop a more complete understanding of the external environment organisations operate in.

This collaborative engagement provides more diverse and informed inputs in creating and executing a robust growth strategy.

Anticipate and adapt with a changing world

While a perfect strategy may be a myth, having a strategy is essential for any organisation aiming to succeed in a highly competitive environment.

Essentially, a strategy is a hypothesis on how to thrive in an anticipated future environment, and it requires continuous testing and adaptation as future realities unfold.

By embracing agility and flexibility and involving a diverse range of stakeholders in the process, organisations can develop a more robust strategy, significantly optimising long-term success.

Waterfield’s approach

Waterfield’s approach to helping organisations create and execute a clear Strategy Map follows the principles of Foresight, Insight and Action.

We believe foresighting is crucial to an organisation's success and the first step we use in our StrategyConnect process to anticipate how an organisation's external operating environment will change over time.

StrategyConnect focuses on building an adaptive and robust strategy, able to course correct in times of change for effective future growth in a fast-changing world.

If you are keen to understand the significance of strategic foresighting for your organisation's success and dive deeper into the transformative StrategyConnect process, reach out for a chat.

Kevin Nuttall,

Director of Waterfield.

Clear strategic direction & action

Strategic growth services:


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