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I will tell you what I got from the Making Strategy course, let’s start!

The beginning chapter of Making Strategy course did remind me of the Learning Manager, suggesting the process of facilitation to ensure the participation of each member and the collaboration’s formulation. From the lecture and a group-work experience, an equation shown below seems to reflect the social process that appears to be worth an attention in the course.

(A variety of ideas + Individual engagement) – Time and Effort sacrificed in Round Robin approach = Added value through effective negotiation process

Based on this equation, in case a negotiation process is not so effective that it fails to generate a wide range of wisdom and/or ensure a collective agreement, then there may be no need for debilitating each member through this equal-voice practice. The core learning point is an inseparability of ‘procedural justice’ and ‘procedural rationality’ in the successful cooperation process. To add more, in case you don’t know what the Round Robin is, do google it. It’s a nice term and, most importantly, not about Batman or Van Persie!

Robin Van Persie - NOT a Round Robin strategy approach

Robin Van Persie – NOT a Round Robin strategy approach

Also, we have been brought through the workshop of strategy making process of which Company’s selection was the first step. To briefly describe, we started by identifying what we thought the company should do and prioritizing them following several criteria (Issue management). Once we knew where to focus on, we tried to figure out what will happen or be achieved when the company takes the prioritized actions (Climbing up the ladder to a Goal system). Next, we inwardly looked at the resources and competencies the company is holding in comparison to the competitors and tried to identify further how their integration would support the company to achieve their goals (Competency system). Lastly, the statement of
strategic intent based on all these systems was created, and revealed how they logically support one another towards the ultimate goal of the company. The process represents the whole laddering-up approach from the resources to the ultimate objective, and shows how powerful an emergent strategizing can be in practice.

Personally, I enjoyed everything in the class and group. The more we went through the process, the more sophisticated our understanding became. Also, the dynamic of the group transformed closer to the nature of the process. Members with relatively louder voice tended to listen more carefully, whereas normally quiet members became more communicative in the strategic discussion.

At the beginning of the class, it was doubtful for me regarding the practicality and suitability of the process in real world business. Are all relevant stakeholders – especially top management – willing to change the way they think and act when they go through the route? Does the process really help sustain the business? Is it worth effort to apply this process in reality? All these questions were solved by the given lecture, the events organized by guest-speakers and my own experience with the Making Strategy workshop. The answer is, if the process is employed with thoughtful manner, strongly “Yes”.

In a nutshell, when you get buy-in from people, together with rational analysis, such a good signal towards the practicality of the strategy in terms of implementation and quality assurance of output is being peeled off.

There would be difficulties in undertaking this for a company, even when all required resources are available. This is because a corporate goal is not achieved only by directly holding them or knowing where to employ them, but having competent ‘people’ who know how to use them and are ‘willing’ to use them. The concept is pretty easy, but not straightforward. People have different identities, interests and power. Therefore, when the unanimous strategic direction everyone accepts and commits to is critical to be obtained, you can imagine a set of potential social and political barriers blocking such an emerging consensus. This situation requires both procedural justice and rationality, and therefore makes the Making
Strategy course unique and inimitable.