Ocean Currents and Business Strategies . . .

But more wonderful than the lore of old men and the lore of books is the secret lore of oceans.  – H. P. Lovecraft

As a former marine biologist I still read a lot about oceanography and the influence of the ocean on our human world.  I care deeply about overfishing, pollution, mangrove destruction along the tropical coastlines to build golf courses, the decline of coral reefs and the interaction between the ocean circulation patterns and climate change.  At least its interesting to me.

I came across a very insightful article the other day in Scientific American magazine about the connectedness of the oceans and the author used the term World Ocean. Most of us were taught about the seven seas or the four great oceans in school as if they were distinct entities.  In fact they are all connected and it is this conveyor belt of currents that greatly influence our weather.

Here’s a great quote from that article:

The ocean is the glue that holds our planet together. Nearly three-quarters of our planet is defined by salty water, weaving its way around continents and circumscribing islands. The water never leaves us. It moves around the planet, it evaporates and get dumped over land and joins with rivers, but it always makes its way back home to the ocean.

As I look at a company or an organisation I see that strategy is the glue that holds the enterprise together.  It infiltrates and influences every activity that goes on inside the company.  It impacts how we deal with customers, suppliers, markets and all stakeholders. Or at least it has that potential.

However, when strategy is seen as nothing more than a collection of silo or functional objectives owned by fiefdoms run by senior executives it loses its power to transform company performance.  Heavy focus on functional objectives is akin to a large eddy at the edge of the main ocean currents.  The eddy swirls around, creating its own special patterns of weather and ecosystems.  As a result of multiple eddys the overall power of the main ocean current is diminished.

Silo focus within an organisation dilutes the force of the overall strategy.  The more executives focus on their silo objectives and budget compliance the less time they have to drive the main strategy forward.  It’s not that we don’t need functional excellence inside an organization, but maximizing functional excellence actually works to sub-optimize the overall strategy.  Much of effective strategy execution is about moving resources around the enterprise to solve specific problems that are blocking the delivery of strategic objectives.  But in heavy silo organizations giving away your resources is seen as damaging functional excellence.  Unless  you have access to endless amounts of cash, you can’t have it both ways.

Would you rather have, functional excellence or a strategy that gets delivered?

Tight Lines . . .

John R Childress

E | john@johnrchildress.com      T | +44 207 584 3774      M | +44 7833 493 999

About johnrchildress

John Childress is currently Visiting Professor in Strategy and Culture at IE Business School in Madrid and a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at john@johnrchildress.com or john.childress@theprincipiagroup.com
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One Response to Ocean Currents and Business Strategies . . .

  1. Pingback: Seeing Beyond the Horizon and Strategic Leadership | John R Childress . . . Rethinking

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