Here is our first leaderspresso book tip of the month: “Open Strategy: Mastering Disruption from Outside the C-Suite” by Christian Stadler, Julia Hautz, Kurt Matzler and Stephan Friedrich von der Eichen.

Smart leaders involve a wider group of both employees and experts from outside the organization in strategy development processes to create better strategies (as a higher diversity of perspectives will result in more unique strategic ideas) and facilitate strategy implementation (due to higher level of commitment of those who are included in the strategy process).

A short summary of the contents of the book (in a “one espresso” length)

  • Many strategies fail because strategic deliberations are limited to a small group of top executives (there’s a danger of groupthink here!) and because of unimaginative copycat behaviors across organizations within an industry.
  • The success of every strategy depends on thousands of well-aligned daily executional decisions across the organization. Involving employees in strategy making will usually also increase their engagement and motivation to implement the strategy in their day-to-day work.
  • For open strategy to work, leaders must have an open mindset first (including the willingness to welcome diverse ideas and to give up some of the secrecy that often surrounds strategy processes).
  • Including external people can especially help in creating more unique strategic ideas, including employees in facilitating strategy implementation.
  • The authors present methods for “harnessing the wisdom of the crowd” (e.g. internal and external idea competitions, strategy discussion communities [moderated digital forums], strategy jams [conference-like online strategy events with a high number of participants], or idea and prediction markets).
  • In addition to success stories of organizations that opened up their strategy processes (e.g. Barclays Bank or Saxonia Systems), the book also includes tools that are used by  IMP, a consulting firm specialized on organizing open strategy processes (e.g. a tool for monitoring trends or exercises in which internal and external participants together try to create a new “nightmare competitor” or a game-changing “killer business model” ).

Key takeaway for smart leaders

  • A diversity of perspectives based on including external experts and a wider range of employees in the strategy-making process can improve the quality of strategic ideas.
  • Giving people a voice in the strategy-making process will make them more committed to implementing the strategy.
Book reference: Stadler, C., Hautz, J., Matzler, K., von der Eichen, S. F. (2021). Open Strategy: Mastering Disruption from Outside the C-Suite (Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press).

Illustration: © Eva Kobin

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