Magazine article New Zealand Management

Koru-Shaped Strategy

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Koru-Shaped Strategy

Article excerpt

When western business folk are asked to ponder the shape of strategy, they're most likely to think triangle and top-down flow; in other parts of the world spirals or circles might dominate.

So why does that matter?

Well, according to Victoria University's new professor of strategic management Stephen Cummings, it's all to do with how preconception can influence and limit the way companies think about their own strategies for the future. Failure to even spot other strategic shapes can render companies less adaptive and slower on their feet.

Citing an historic 'for instance', he cites the strength of Maori resistance during the New Zealand wars as "in no small part due to some quite novel strategies" (trench warfare for starters) that the British colonial forces didn't even recognise as such let alone learn from or adapt to.

Similar blind spots become evident when western companies look at other cultures, and Cummings argues we must re-think the conventional shapes of strategy if we're to think more effectively about successful strategies for the future.

It's useful, he says, to focus less on what strategy is than on what it does--and that is to orient and animate employees. Mission statements can but don't always do that.

He gives several reasons why he believes it's imperative to rethink the conventional shape of strategies.

1 Older top-down options are too slow and too costly. People at lower levels need to feel involved in strategic initiative rather than seeing it as something that happens to them. …

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