In a previous post, I stated that OD did not have the appropriate skill set to drive the strategic process single handed.
In the same breath, I stated that business developers and Heads of Strategy are equally unequipped to drive strategic processes single handed.
So what is the value added of OD to the strategic process? Here are the top 3 things I believe OD brings to the table in strategic planning.
1) Strategic planning focuses on technology, markets and beating competition; at best there may be some time devoted to “do we have the organization to support the strategy”. The truth is that any business strategy not linked to an organizational strategy is useless. And the organizational strategy does not support the business strategy, it is a sine qua non of any coherent strategy. OD forces this issue at all times, in order to prevent a business strategy being developed which is divorced from delivery capabilities.
2) Strategic planning has an intense political undertone since players try to maintain their own personal power base in any new strategic direction. OD plays a major role in building a process which circumvents this enormous obstacle.
3) Organizations have “mega bugs” which impact the operations of the firm: e.g., wrong assumptions, too little room for dissent, too much infighting, R&D too weak; Sales over empowered to make promises which cannot be fulfilled…..whatever. The list is long.
Very often, these very mega bugs contaminate the strategic process, and the strategic process replicates the mega bugs instead of removing them. (Armies strategize about “more fire power”; peaceniks strategize by hallucinating about non existing boundary conditions, religious folks always conclude we need to pray more.)
The most important role OD has in strategy is to work to ensure that the existing bugs in the organizations’ basic assumptions are laid bare and discussed so they have less contaminating impact on strategic planning.