Do you ever read those job ads for vacancies in ‘strategic positions’? They seem to be on the increase and yet they beg a question which no one seems willing to pose; do these companies have non-strategic positions and, if so, why?
Let me explain.
If a company has a properly researched and constructed strategy in place then every role within that organisation should be clearly defined and be strategic, any role that is not is, by definition, a role not servicing the purpose of taking that company where it has planned to go (non-strategic).
Within that strategy roles should be easily identified as servicing one of three tiers; strategic direction, strategic management and strategic delivery. The role of strategic support (eg admin) may be integrated into those three tiers or be identified separately but is nonetheless also strategic.
What these job ads are often referring to are those roles that fall within the direction and/or the management of strategy. What they forget is that the delivery of said strategy is just as vital to the success of the company, just as strategic.
Companies that forget this could perhaps remember where the word strategy comes from; the Greek words strategos (general) and strategia (office of a general), for when you apply the word strategy militarily the importance of every single human component becomes clear.
Strategic direction is the preserve of the senior ranks, the Brigadiers and Generals. Strategic management is deployed to commissioned officers below these ranks, the Lieutenants to the Colonels and the strategic delivery is the preserve of the NCOs and ranks. Every single soldier has a role and every single role has strategic relevance.
In other words, every single role is strategic. Some give direction, some provide management and others ensure delivery. So rather than the job ad seeking candidates for a ‘strategic position’ (which says little about the role but a lot about the company) it could seek people for a senior or a directorial role; a management role or a front line/delivery role.
The job ad also begs a larger question of the company which thinks it has strategic and non-strategic roles; do they even have a strategy worthy of the word? Having a document with the word strategy on the cover does not make that document a strategy or more specifically, an effective strategy. And having roles defined as strategic while others are not suggests a badly flawed planning process.
In the early years of the 21st century we tend to seek quick fixes and often fall into the trap of letting so-called experts foist inappropriate templates on us before they have gained any real understanding of what our business is and its aims. In fact in some sectors strategic planning has become so template driven that common sense is frequently left outside the planning room door.
If this sounds like a company you know, or even a company you work for, why not ask them to get in touch with Cowan Global Consulting and start getting their strategic planning and the rationale behind every single role within the company back on track.
And if someone offers you a strategy template as a quick fix, run a mile!
© Jim Cowan, Cowan Global Limited 2010