What Is Your Strategy for Strategy?

Some people use the Business Model Canvas to develop a business strategy; others prefer the Lean Canvas because it seems more problem-focused. Some people refer to Michael Porter’s famous five forces framework; others prefer just to wing it and develop their strategy along the way. A simple fact is, we all need to think about how to arrive where we are going with our business.

Who is our intended target audience?
How are we generating value for them?
Through which channels do we reach them?
How much are we going to charge them?
Who is going to partner with us?

With the Management 3.0 brand, from the very start, I made all strategy decisions myself. When I started hiring a few people to help me with web design and licensing, I simply explained my decisions to them, which helped them to implement what I had decided. On the agility scale for strategy, I would call that red:

The business strategy driving the group’s operations is exclusively the responsibility of a higher management layer.

The number of people involved in Management 3.0 kept growing, and soon we had an entire team working for the brand. I started delegating more, and the team members often came up with their own suggestions regarding audiences, channels, prices, and partners. The team and I started making decisions together. Without considering a specific agility level at the time, we can see that strategic decisions had quietly moved toward green on the agility scale:

The business strategy driving the group’s operations is the responsibility of a higher management layer and the group itself.

Now, I feel I’m ready to delegate even more. I am involved in several other projects, and I fear that I don’t even have the time anymore to get involved in strategic discussions around Management 3.0. The brand and the team seem to be doing fine. So why not ask them to step it up and start thinking strategically without my input? Of course, I would love to stay informed and offer a suggestion or two, which is why I should call this an example of violet:

The business strategy driving the group’s operations is the responsibility of the group itself with a small influence by a higher management layer.

I have offered an example above of a leader stepping back, getting less involved, and allowing for more self-organization on a team, driven by a growing business and some changing priorities of the manager. But I could also paint a picture of a manager getting more involved with a team’s business strategy. For example, when several other teams have emerged, and there is a need for coordination and alignment of multiple business models.

So, what is the best strategy for a successful shopping mall?

I have no idea, but I’m sure that it will not emerge from letting 50+ business people and shop owners just figure it out for themselves. If it turned out to offer 49 sneaker stores and one coffee bar, the mall might not be very attractive except for a tiny sneaker-loving audience. To attract more clients, some coordination across the parts will be valuable, and this is usually done by a central organization. The 50+ business owners could decide on everything by consensus, of course, but this would be highly inefficient.

In your business, it will be the same. Part of the strategy will often be coordinated and assigned by a higher management level, and another part will usually emerge from self-organizing team members. The question is, how much should you lean toward one side or the other?

Where on the agility scale does strategy sit on your team?
What is your strategy for strategy?

What Are Agility Scales?