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 . . .
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