A New Strategic Tool — The Roadmap

In a world where competitive advantage evaporates in less than a year and brand new threats emerge rapidly from outside your own industry — the current form of strategy is put under pressure.

Rita McGrath — The end of competitive advantage
Steve Denning — Radical Management
(the worst thing happening to convenience stores in Oslo in 2013 was a train company’s mobile phone app — causing double digit loss of customers in stores)

Traditional strategy is a tool for companies to invent or manage the future. In the process a believable golden version of our future is designed and then rules and decisions for it are mapped out and put in place. Then companies work according to this future for several years until its time to invent a new future and the process starts over. (see illustration below)

It’s not difficult to see how this model has failed. There are numbers showing that only 10 or 20 percent of strategies are successfully implemented. At the same time the nature and speed of change that strategies didn’t foresee make many of them redundant long before they are mature enough to be implemented.

Strategies fail when they can’t accommodate to fundamental changes in the nature of the fabric they are trying to control. And with these fabrics shifting rapidly a new strategic imperative should be emerging.

The Roadmap

To be clear — the roadmap is not the solution. It’s a tool that became an idea. It’s a prototype and a mindset that hopefully could inspire a new way to strategically work with continuously shifting fabrics.

Some years ago I was on a project with Knut Helge Risheim and Axel Krabberød, the job was to create a roadmap for the continuous implementation of the digital customer strategy. The tool has since proved to be a springboard for the idea; implementation as strategy.

The Roadmap enables companies to organize and filter large amounts of data into one visual canvas, at the same time it is highly dynamic and flexible to rapid changes. — It has been designed for continuous change.

It allows for a different set of decision metrics at the top, more agile and funded on goals (what we want to achieve), not decision (what we say we are doing). The strategy then hands over control to the Roadmap making sure it stays on course (or changes course) to reach these goals every day.

The Roadmap increases control of activities (output), at the same time it demands a structure of learning (input) in order to make necessary decisions.

Strategy as a decision instrument is a failed idea. It is saying that decisions should be made furthest away from where they are implemented — creating the slowest possible setup for organizations to understand and react. The current market needs faster companies, and rapid decisions need to be made where they are implemented. With The Roadmap, strategy hands over its decision power to the implementers and concentrates on keeping the company aligned towards it’s goals and achievements.

Download The Roadmap with explanation here (pdf).
Download The Roadmap as a working document here (OmniGraffle).

Originally published at www.linkedin.com on October 16, 2014.

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