A key revisit and a solid enabler for a high performing organisation is a crisp and clear strategy. The strategy creation and implementation challenges have become more and more complicated. Increased volatility, sustainability concerns, rapid globalisation, rise of new technologies, industry convergence, and changes in the workforce, have contributed to an environment in which top-down planning needs to be balanced with quick and agile implementation.

Our research conclusions suggest that only 42% of top executives are satisfied with the output from their strategy promise. The causes of this strategy-to-execution gap are often not visible to top management. Leaders then sometimes pull the wrong levers in their attempts to turn around performance, pressing for better implementation when they actually need either a better strategy, or opting to change direction when they really should focus the organisation on execution.

Strategy is about winning. A good strategy acknowledges challenges and provides an approach to overcoming them. In contrast to the world of sports where coming second or third may be regarded as a victory, at least over oneself, coming second or third in the world of business is often a complete waste of time, effort and resources in the pursuit of winning business, unless one systematically identify and learn from the mistakes.

Earning the right to win is never easy, but implementing a winning strategy is the most direct, and effective way to get there. With the right capabilities in place, strengthened and refined over time, companies with a winning strategy and outstanding implementation are better positioned to grow their bottom lines. So, the ultimate job of a strategy is to define what to do to win, or more precisely, the strategy determines how you will use your scarce resources in the best way possible to win.

The formula for winning is to build sustainable capabilities, which create greater value for your customers, and at the same time generate superior profits for the company as well as positive benefits for society and key stakeholders. A litmus test of a winning strategy is that the company has decided not only what it will do, but also what it will not do. Every time you fail to choose, you are choosing to spend part of your scarce resources on the wrong things.

Strategic learning is a key ingredient of a learning organisation and generates support of future strategic initiatives that will, in turn, foster knowledge that leads to improvements in business performance. Strategic learning is a system approach to strategy creation and implementation that embraces, develops and disseminates knowledge and is able to adapt to changes in the world so that it benefits customers, employees, shareholders and society. The Strategic Learning Strategy Process framework has a four-phase dynamic cycle of Learn, Focus, Align, and Execute. These phases build on one another and are repeated to create and sustain winning performance. The more often an organisation repeats this cycle, the better it will become in doing it, thus enhancing its adaptive capacity. The result is a process of ongoing renewal that characterises an adaptive organisation.

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