Strategy Super Heroes

What makes a manager a super strategist?  All managers are expected to strategise in some form, so why is it that some excel while others struggle?

Attributes of successful strategists

As long ago as 1998 Downes and Mui (Unleashing the Killer App, Harvard Business Schools Press) identified some key attributes that differentiate highly successful use of winning strategies in organisations.

These were:

Attributes of Super Strategists

Super Heros have Super Strategies

  • Insight – superior ability to make sense of changing environments
  • Focus – dedication to the strategic vision
  • Alignment – making each aspect of the organisation (structure, skills, processes, culture and reward) align with the vision
  • Execution – effective implementation of tactical and operational support for the strategy and fast response to changing circumstances and threats
  • Renewal – ongoing cycle of learning, refocusing, developing and refreshing


Ten Talents of Super Strategists

What management qualities exhibit themselves in superior strategising?

  1. Not only seeing the big picture but visualising, with singular clarity, the organisation’s mission to achieve that vision.
  2. Recognising and accepting that risk is part and parcel of aspiring to extra-ordinary outcomes, and managing that risk.
  3. Being able to not only identify the gap between current capabilities and resources and those needed to achieve the desired result but to command or influence the changes necessary in those elements to align effort with attainment.
  4. Leveraging innovation, technology and skilled personnel to outpace competitors or to go where no one has gone before. Creating surprises for the market or the sector. Doing what competitors do but in significantly more audacious ways.
  5. Continually searching for improvement by measuring and testing one’s own performance so as to build on the strengths and mitigate the vulnerabilities.
  6. Being prepared to break through barriers or detour around them if necessary to maintain forward momentum.
  7. Understanding that there will be setbacks from time to time but always ready to regroup and continue the advance.
  8. Sharpening an awareness of the possible alternative futures and developing /testing strategic scenarios that may require flexibility in the current approach.
  9. Communicating clearly and effectively the concepts, ideas, direction, and values that will underpin the strategy and its implementation.
  10. Continually testing and validating assumptions on which the strategy is based for validity in changing circumstances.

Things Strategy Super Heroes avoid

The Forces of Evil that present dangers to successful strategising include –

doubt, indecision, self-delusion, lack of initiative, inaction, quality compromise, timidity in the face of adversity, risk-aversion and procrastination.


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