Introducing Continuous Strategy

Continuous Strategy is a radically different and more mature state of the strategy creation and communication process where organisations generate and publish their enterprise strategy in real-time, on demand, at the click of a button. McKinsey and Gartner talk along similar lines, called “Emergent Strategy” and “Continuous Foresight” respectively.

Continuous Strategy takes the episodic “traditional strategy” and makes it a continuous business-as-usual process whereby strategy becomes the DNA of the company, with no defined endpoint or target end state, capable of generating a current and relevant strategy snapshot on-demand, when the Board and other stakeholders want it.

With the relentless pace of change today, barring some exceptions, it no longer optimal to define fixed, rigid target states and tie-up resources to achieving such states over long timespans only to discover the goalposts have moved during that time. The world’s best companies that practice Continuous Strategy:

  • Are 1.5 times more likely to financially out-perform peers.
  • Add 5% or more to their bottom-line.
  • Are 1/3rd more likely to have an IT strategy that sustainably supports the business.
  • Are capable of pivoting within days, hours or even minutes as new threats and opportunities emerge.
  • Enable their CIOs to work at Board-level and help drive revenue.
  • Enable their senior executives to spend more time on issues of strategic importance.

Continuous Strategy cannot be achieved with the current toolset of email, Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. It needs a powerful digital platform that enables real-time collaboration between the Board, CIO, and executive leadership teams with internal and external experts on a purpose-built platform that continuously collates information into self-updating strategy stories, insights, and views that tell stakeholders what is happening right now, imminently and in the long term. Xirocco makes this possible.

CharacteristicTraditional StrategyContinuous Strategy
FrequencyIs an episodic, triggered activity, every 2, 3 or 5 years. Created in response to request from Board or by new CIO in role.Is a perpetual activity. Performed continuously as a BAU activity by every employee as part of their daily responsibilities.
RelevancyAges immediately on creation, with multiple, out-of-sync copies, versions. A “last known” strategy is often available, quite likely no longer applicable.Ensures strategy is always relevant with a single source of truth. Strategy is generated on-demand with real-time data.
AlignmentAligns only Business and IT once when Strategy is created.Alignment is a continuous process. Ensures business units are always aligned to Group with duplication only by exception.
External DriversPeriodic attention to macroeconomic conditions. Horizon scanned only when Strategy is created.Continuous attention to macroeconomic conditions. Continuously scans horizon and updates Strategy.
Pre-requisitesRequires repeat pre-requisite activities. Data collation and current state analysis are performed as one-off activities, taking up 50p of every pound spent on Strategy.Requires little pre-requisite activities as data and current state are always available in real-time.
CostIs cost- and time-intensive every time.Is one-time effort with negligible to repeat.
SkillsNeeds distinct, expensive skills and uses basic toolset.Uses available skills & specialist tooling.

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