I was talking to a good friend the other day when he asked me for advice.

His employer had implemented big changes in order to comply with a new strategic direction.

My friend thought it was the right thing to do at the time, but now he felt like pushing them in an opposite direction.

This can of course be sensitive in any organization (see also A Matrix For Social Spin).

The way I see it, a strategy is a trajectory and as such, it really is literally a fine line to balance.

In reality, it’s next to impossible to be in line with the strategic direction in every aspect of operations.

Adjusting the strategy is like inflight corrections when landing an aeroplane.

If a company see the need for a drastic change (A) in operations, they’ve probably drifted too far off the trajectory or the strategic direction got changed.

No matter which, the company must face three options:

  1. Change the strategic direction to get in line with operations
  2. Quickly get back in line with the strategic direction
  3. Slowly get back in line with the strategic direction

As for (1) and (2), the decision is tough; a forceful push (A) will require a push (B) in the opposite direction.

These operational changes requires resources, and the less the better. A more careful strategy might also be costly since it will take longer time to get back in line with the strategic direction.

My friend’s company was probably in a situation where (A) had to be powerful due to competitive factors in the environment paired with rapid changes in the market place calling for a shift in strategic direction.

Now, as they’ve reached (B), it’s not exactly anyone’s fault that the need for opposing operational directives is needed.

So, if my friend can explain strategic direction as a trajectory, it becomes apparent that opposing actions doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone’s been making the wrong decisions.

Clever, right?

Image credit: DLR