Strategy is multimodal

One of the things I hear working with leaders in organisations is “I need to write the <insert term> strategy” — it doesn’t actually matter which strategy it is, or what flavour of a strategy it is. When you start working at a certain level, you have to start writing strategies, or parts of strategies; and the more senior you get the more of the strategy your are responsible for, until you reach the tipping point when you tell people the vision and ask them to write the strategy.

On Saturday Laura Gogia wrote a post “Facilitating the paradigm shift”, in which she spoke about getting a faculty to think strategically. It’s a great post, and relates how her own journey to a more strategic thinking place happened.

The thing with Laura’s journey is that her thinking was from a place of practice, that led to strategy. But I wonder how many people see the strategic thinking as being the opposite or at least having some dissonance with practice.

How often do we hear “think strategically” or “be more strategic”?

Leaders need to be able to think about strategy in a “meta” way, as Laura describes it and they need to think about strategy as practice. For leaders, especially the ones that we are working with in the higher and further education sectors, strategy is both thinking and doing.

Some of this is at the centre of the Jisc Digital Leaders course. The time we spend over the four days of the course is about leaders having enough information to be able to think through and develop strategies around digital. It is also, and crucially, setting leaders up to be in a place where they can situate their own digital practices as a model for their staff and peers.

“Being strategic” means practicing strategy as well as thinking strategically. Effective strategy is multimodal, and effective leaders ground their thoughts in a reflective approach to their practice, and the practices within their organisation.