Delivering the future as strategy

While we were in Purdah (the pre-election period) I started to write down a number of thoughts that were loosely joined around strategy.

The question I’m thinking about is: how do we start to work towards future services that respond to expectations that are rising immeasurably in an increasingly digital world?

It feels like this might develop into something, maybe a talk or future blog posts, but I wanted to start by sharing some of my initial thinking. There are emerging themes here of ownership, clarity, creativity and accountability.

Part 1: Who owns the strategy?

I’ve been reading, writing, and editing a number of job descriptions over the last 6 months.

When you ask people in different digital roles to define what their job is, it seems that everyone wants to be responsible for the strategy. They want to be seen as the job role that solves the problem, or has the greatest influence over the direction of the work.

These things often get inflated with being ‘strategic’ which attaches more importance to upfront thinking. You see this with different job roles attempting to have ownership of things such as the purpose and vision for products and services.

If you work with lots of different specialists with different job titles you can see why this might become a problem.

It’s much more unusual for anyone to build a job description around understanding a problem, or delivering an outcome.

Successful outcomes are dependent on being willing to frame and hold onto a problem.

This isn’t something you do because you’re more senior, clever or experienced than anyone else. It happens because you’re willing to be accountable for what happens. Putting your best work and reputation on the line against your influence, individual and collective decisions as well as your overall contribution to the process of getting there.

From what I’ve seen, a lack of open working and the attempt to control strategy is due to a lack of understanding as to how important collaboration and team work is to digital delivery.

It’s always better when everyone wants the problem to be solved.

Part 2: Strategy is clear and creative

Strategy starts with understanding a problem.

I believe that change happens as a result of being able to clearly focus on an outcome and then having the imagination to get there.

Imagination on it’s own isn’t enough. Neither is focus. Therefore, success is focus and creativity combined.

If you want to change something, start with being clear, then being creative.

Part 3: Be the strategy

You earn the right to define the vision for a product or service. Either by being first, being bold enough, or just by being in charge (ie. it’s your company so it’s your accountability).

You can also earn that right by being the strategy. The person that takes the time to organise everyone else’s thinking around understanding the problem, finding ways to create momentum.

Most of the time we’re describing someone else’s view of the world. It doesn’t have to be this way. Be brave enough to shape your own.

You can be the strategy if you’re accountable.

Ben Holliday is an experienced designer, leader, writer and speaker. This is his blog (started in 2005). You can follow all of Ben's blog posts by subscribing to the RSS feed, or follow him on Twitter for more regular updates.