The Interface between Strategy and Implementation

The interface between formulating direction and implementing action is encountered at the moment when strategic thinking shifts towards tactical thinking. This is a key point in the change process, because it is where strategy faces its irst real test. Crossing the boundary from strategy to tactics does not, however, mean that strategizing is inished and that tactics are all that are left. Strategy formulation can be deliberate or emergent.5 Deliberate strategy lows from analytical thinking; it entails assessing the market, competitors' strengths and weaknesses, market growth, and customer needs. Once this assessment is completed, decisions about implementation are made. This, briely, is deliberate strategy making, which is the traditional approach to

strategic planning.

Emergent strategy is very different. It lows from day-to-day priorities established by leaders, managers, and followers, all of whom will have a hand in implementation. People who develop strategies in emotional or intuitive ways do not recognize the consequences as strategic decisions or as different

5 See Henry Mintzberg and James Waters, “Of Strategies: Deliberate and Emergent,”

Strategic Management Journal 6, no. 3 (1985): 257–72. from tactical ones. Role model leaders will recognize when a strategy needs to be changed because they have positioned themselves to take part in the implementation, which is when that need makes itself visible.

Role model leaders encourage both these approaches and have the competence to inluence people to engage in both to accomplish the necessary results. They also understand when to stabilize a strategy and when to change it.

How to Use the Change Process Model

To illustrate the utility and lexibility of the change process model, I offer the following examples. The principal characteristic of the model demonstrated here is its lexibility. It is designed to meet the user's needs and can be applied in its entirety or in part. It allows for complete strategic thinking from belief to action or, alternatively, for targeted strategic thinking – whatever is required of those who are leading the change. The examples offered are all hypothetical.


Partial utilization is only possible when practitioners fully understand the change process model and are competent and have used it to its fullness. Then they have the capability to test its lexibility as well as the openness to beneit from its parts. The parts I am referencing are the three triads that form the whole (see Figure 11.4). The three triads of the change process model are developing meaning for change, formulating direction for change, and implementing the change. Each of these consists of three component levels of thought, as described in the thinking effectively model in chapter 4. Say, for example, that a company's leaders are fully satisied and conident that their beliefs, philosophy, and principles represent the values of the company. But these senior leaders recognize that there is a need to set a new direction. The company is no longer able to achieve a competitive advantage and grow by making automobile engines for car companies.

These leaders must now apply their competencies to shift the business to making smaller engines for boats – new market, new customers.

The senior leaders and the various thought leaders sit together in a room and put the company values “on the wall” and begin to discuss and rework the second triad in the change process model – vision, mission, strategy. Once this is done and there is understanding among all in the company, they begin to consider the third triad – the implementation step in the model – and work that triad in the same manner. Another example of the model's lexibility and usefulness relates to the power of using the irst triad unilaterally. The beliefs, philosophy, and principles of the company as a whole – its values – may be valid, but the irst triad can be used in various ways within different parts of the company to create common purpose. Say, for example, that a new team has been formed to make incremental changes in a chemical process. These engineers and technicians understand the company's direction and the part their team will play in the whole. But they want to create a strong common purpose among themselves in this new team. So they utilize the irst triad of the change process model in order to determine and shape a common purpose through a discussion of beliefs, philosophy, and principles for the team and the part it will play in the company as a whole.

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