Change, not chaos…in five steps

We’re all on a change journey, and that journey will call upon us to develop different things at different times. Your chance of success and avoiding chaos is greatly enhanced by the amount of time you spend on preparation.

I was listening to a podcast recently in which a prominent CHRO commented that “the world has changed, it’s chaotic and unruly and our leaders need to be able to operate effectively in chaos”. Surely we want change not chaos.

Now I don’t know about you but that’s not a sales pitch I’m warming to. I’d agree that things certainly seem to be heading that way; I’m not sure we’re enjoying it…is anyone getting a kick out of Brexit? Somebody else once told me “never hire anyone who tells you they’re good in a crisis – you’ll always be in one”.

And yet it seems to me that all we need to escape the chaos is a little process, and some structure, to help us find our way out of the darkness. What’s frustrating is how bad we are at doing just that.  I work for an engineering business and we love a process – we just love following them less!

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Strategy and structure: squaring a necessary circle

Is setting strategy still necessary; is a prescribed structure still needed; what constitutes an effective role profile?

Strategic decision making – is it history?

In 1977, the historian Alfred Chandler of Harvard Business School published a seminal book on the history of strategic decision making at the highest levels of American firms, including General Motors, DuPont, Standard Oil and Sears Roebuck.  Of these, GM and DuPont remain strong businesses.  Standard was broken up as in illegal monopoly in early 20th century although its progeny,  Exxon-Mobil and Chevron, continue to thrive.   Sears struggles as do so many retailers in the face of the storm called Amazon.  The book is called “The Visible Hand:  The Managerial Revolution in American Business”.  From the book comes a maxim that I believe still rings true.  It is attributed to Alfred Sloane, one of GM’s founders.  The maxim is, “Structure follows strategy”.

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