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ROLES IN STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT


Roles played in strategic management


By Ruth Tearle

act

William Shakespeare's immortal words in 'As you Like it' apply to strategic management today.

There are 9 actors who enter and exit the stage of strategic management at different times.

"All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances..."

Nine major characters act on the stage of strategic management. As the scenes change from the birth of a new strategy, to motivating employees to take on new challenges, to implementing the strategy and achieving results - so different characters take center stage.

This article describes the 9 actors in the strategic management troupe, and the roles they play in the strategic management process.

1. The oracle.

future

This prophet, or seer, ‘is a person who sees the future.’

He begins by throwing the bones to research changes occurring in the world outside of the organization - the macro environment. He sees how technologies, the industry and the competitors of the organization are changing in the wind.

He uses the crystal ball of scenarios, and imagination to visualize the future within which the organization will operate.

Then he warns the leaders of the key success factors that the organization will need to develop, to be successful within that future.

He reads the palm of the organization to identify the organization’s unique competencies and strengths and foresees how these can be developed in the future to support the future key success factors.


2. The sculptor.

A sculptor is an artist ‘who carves a shape’ out of raw materials.

The sculptor imagines the form the organization will take, if it is to be successful within the oracle's imagined future.

He begins his work by determining the organization’s future target markets.

He fashions the future shape of the organization by defining why its future customers will choose to support it, rather than any imagined future competitor.

Having created the basic form for his sculpture, the sculptor then carves away everything that is not part of his envisaged sculpture. He chisels away unnecessary functions, processes, systems, products, services and paradigms to ensure that everything in the organization supports its new form.


3. The orator.

An orator is an eloquent or skilled public speaker.

Great orators of the past inspired their troops in battle by giving them a noble cause to believe in - promising them hard work, sacrifice and battle, in return for glory, honor, and pride.

Examples of great orators include

  • Shakespeare's Henry V who inspired his troops with a speech before the battle of Harfleur that began “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more."
  • Winston Churchill whose speeches still inspire us today, said :
    • "The price of greatness is responsibility."
    • “Let all of us who are here remember that we are on the stage of history, and that whatever our station may be, and whatever part we have to play, great or small, our conduct is liable to be scrutinized not only by history but by our own descendants. Let us rise to the full level of our duty and of our opportunity, and let us thank God for the spiritual rewards He has granted for all forms of valiant and faithful service.”

The Orator in strategic management communicates a new strategy in such a way that employees feel that they will be contributing to something great and noble. They recognize that they will need to work hard and make sacrifices to achieve the strategy, but that by doing so, they will feel proud of themselves and their organization.


4. The politician.

A politician is someone who is ‘skilled in the art of maneuvering and manipulation.

In strategic management, the politician understands the power brokers in the organization. He knows what drives each of them. He knows who is motivated by ego. Who by money. Who needs to be recognized. Who needs to be in the limelight. And who thrives on ‘making a difference’ behind the scenes.

The politician knows whom to involve, in what ways, to ensure that he gets the support he needs to sculpt the organization of the future.


5. The handy man.

toolsA handy man is someone you can rely on to fix a range of small problems - often in a single visit.

The handyman is often called in to solve a problem by a leader. Perhaps there is a barrier that is preventing people from implementing the organization's strategy. Or a leader may have received a complaint from an employee or customer - one that shouldn't occur if the strategy was being lived.

Being multi-skilled, the handyman does whatever it takes to fix the problem. He may work across a number of different departments or silos to solve the problem. But then he goes a step further. He looks at what needs to be done to ensure the problem doesn’t occur again. Whether this involves fixing a system, a structure, behaviors or beliefs, the handy man does whatever it takes to ensure that living the organization’s strategy becomes a habit.


7. The investigative journalist.

Saboteurs in the organization who want to retain the status quo, may secretly prevent the strategy from being implemented successfully. Using a variety of underhand tactics ranging from obstruction to distractions, they often undermine the work of the sculptor, in bringing a new organizational form to life.

That is where the investigative journalist takes center stage. Hearing from a secret source that the organization’s strategy is not working as planned, the intrepid journalist investigates the cause. He follows unlikely leads. He goes into blind alleys. He collects customer complaints and staff exit interviews. He goes undercover, pretending to be a new employee in a branch. He skirts behind the walls of organizational hypocrisy in his quest for the truth. He braves the sting in the tail of scorpion power brokers who guard the status quo. He peers behind smokescreens, facades, pretenses and disguises, until he uncovers the truth. What and who are preventing the organization's new form from taking shape.


8. The hero.

"A hero is a person, who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities." (Oxford Dictionary.)

share-light

Many strategies require employees to be creative, and to give of their best. Yet at work, many employees find that their talents, passions, creativity, imagination, and energy are locked behind bars of a rigid company culture. Fearful managers who want to ‘be in control’, and ‘avoid making mistakes’, often hide the keys to creativity, energy, passion, self-confidence, and innovation.

Warned against dangerous fires, our hero wades through the smokescreens of “that’s the way its always been done” and "We don't accept mistakes" and "It won't work here."

He helps employees to escape from their prison of boredom and fear, by following his route towards a greater future. In doing so, he helps his team navigate the heroe's journey successfully.


9. The guru or guiding light

A guru is a person who gives personal spiritual guidance to his disciples.

In organizations, the guru works with the potential of each employee. He begins by helping individual employees to discover their potential for personal greatness. Then he shows them how to channel their energy and talent towards achieving their potential - while at the same time contributing to an even greater organizational goal.


Creating and executing a powerful strategy requires a number of different characters to play their roles on the organizational stage. Each with their own entrances and exits. The play is performed when the full troupe of actors play their roles to perfection.

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