Clay Models Break (so do strategies that aren't engineered)
by Richard Lynch, on May 2, 2018 8:25:59 AM
Recently, I stumbled across this article "In a high-tech world, car designers still rely on clay." It made me think about the strategy to execution process in many companies:
“Car designers have every kind of software and virtual reality tool. But when they want to make sure a car's curves look just right, they rely on one of the world's oldest materials: clay. Every vehicle by every major carmaker, from Mercedes to Tesla to Toyota, is formed in clay long before it ever hits the road. Automakers hire sculptors to make scale models and full-size clay vehicles. They sculpt every detail, from windows to door handles to slight creases in the hood. They sculpt interiors, too, in such fine detail that focus groups can't always tell they're looking at a clay dashboard.”
It seems strategy designers have their version of clay models: they design strategy in PowerPoint. We all know that car buyers don’t expect to be able to drive out of the showroom in a clay car. If they wanted to "kick the tires," clay breaks. They know that none of the systems, materials and wiring are real.
So too with strategy. To make strategy actionable, it must be real. It requires the work systems and target architecture to enable the business capabilities that make strategy work. For many companies this requires improvisation and guesswork, especially when prioritizing projects.
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Transformation is not about external forces, they are inevitable. It’s not about reorganizations, they don’t work. There are more profound issues with the very nature of business models and design of work. Misaligned leadership, functional hierarchy, obsolete business models, archaic governance models, and the lack of strategy to execution (S2E) processes are the issues transformation must address. Download our Transformation Manifesto here.
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