Why can’t Strategy be Inspiring?

I don’t mean to be abstract, but I wonder sometimes if lack of engagement with (or even awareness of) Corporate Strategy has something to do with our delivery and positioning, and much less with the message itself.

Vitruvius’ three principles of firmitatis utilitatis venustatis, from his semenal work De Architectura, roughly translates as durability (it should be robust), utility (it should be practical and functional) and beauty (it should inspire). Could these three aspects of architecture apply to Strategy? What about the concept of beauty or inspiration specifically? Can you develop an inspiriting strategy?

Several years ago our team was working with a national association that struggled with capturing and communicating the essence of their organization. Through our workshops it emerged that the “economic engine” that drove the organization was the development of prospects into candidates, then candidates into accredited members in order to achieve two top-level targets that had been established (candidate enrollment growth and membership growth).

The outcome was a strategy map that was able to relate the activities of several groups within the organization to those top-line goals. In fact, to drive home the concept of the “economic engine”, we even made those three aspects of the business circular to provide the feeling of motion.

The goal here was for everyone in the organization to “see themselves” (their role, contribution, alignment) within the Strategy Map.

I’m not saying that this Strategy Map was beautiful or inspiring, but sometimes adding a little creative flair (and my creative limitations are obvious here) to the technical analysis provides a little additional stimulus for adoption and engagement.

It is always gratifying when you are able to witness someone click, or “get it”, when Strategy is illustrated in an easily consumable way.

What are other ways that we can engage the imaginations of our teams to adopt, adapt and align to Strategy? Are there any approaches, tools or methods that you’ve used?

Also, do you know of anyone that has been successful in this area? We’d love to meet them, interview them and ultimately understand how they’re able to inspire outcomes through strategy.