Management books teach that the deployment of strategy is done (1) from the long-term to the short-term and (2) from the top of the organization to the bottom of the organization.
But in a liquid organization, the deployment of the strategy can follow a completely symmetrical logic.
(1) The objectives of the top of the company are defined by “distillation” of the objectives identified by the field teams: the field suggests to the executives the objectives that the field deems relevant but which cannot be implemented by the field due to lack of time, resources and prerogatives.
(2) Long-term goals are achieved by “distilling” short-term goals. These goals are important, but they require more time and/or assume that short-term goals have been achieved.
This symmetrical approach shakes up the CEO who considers that his job is to see far and set the main directions.
But it has the merit of empowering each employee in the design and execution of the strategy. It starts from the daily experience of thousands of people who are in contact with markets, customers, competitors, suppliers, products, processes, tools, the organization.
This approach does not deny hierarchical authority since each manager sorts out the objectives suggested to him by the field and he retains the rights and duties conferred on him by his status (his place in the organization).
There are many arguments against this view.
▪️ Operational teams have their noses in the handlebars and don’t have the step back to see the big issues and think long term.
The counter-argument is that executives see macro issues and have a long-term vision but lack the proximity to see the operational declination and short-term priorities.
▪️ If everything starts from the base, how to ensure that the teams will follow homogeneous methods and that the priorities will optimize synergies?
The counter-argument is that the priority given to synergies and homogeneity comes at the expense of agility and creativity.
In conclusion, the inversion of the pyramid is not the magic solution but the dominant management software is not perfect: 70% of transformation projects do not reach their objectives, 8 out of 10 employees do not understand the strategy of their company, 35% of employees’ time is devoted to activities of which they do not see the added value, etc.
These facts invite us to ask ourselves difficult questions.