Strategic Communications: Emphasize that Strategy is Everybody’s Business

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By Owen Eagan, The Saint Consulting Group

Dean Spitzer writes in Leader to Leader 2: Enduring Insights on Leadership that leaders place a heavy emphasis on communication and, most importantly, they listen to their employees.  In fact, he states that IBM’s highly successful e-business was the result of Lou Gerstner, the company’s former CEO, taking the time to listen to a few bright researchers.

Therefore, in addition to developing an understanding about the strategy throughout the organization, it is also necessary to let employees know that they can play a critical role in developing strategy itself.  As Gary Hamel notes in the Harvard Business Review article “Strategy as Revolution,” managers should democratize the strategy development process so that employees not only have a voice but that they have influence.  He also recommends encouraging strategy activists at all levels of the organization as revolution rarely begins at the top.

So, in order to emphasize that strategy is everybody’s business, there are three essential steps.

  1. Educate your employees about the company’s strategy so that everyone knows how their individual activities contribute to the organization’s overall goals and objectives.
  2. Democratize your company so that your employees not only have a voice but have influence in your organization.
  3. Encourage strategy activists within your organization so that your company doesn’t stagnate and become a victim of its own success.

These steps will help maintain your company’s competitive advantage in the face of increasingly shorter strategy lifecycles.

Owen Eagan is Vice President, Eastern Division for Saint Consulting, an international management consulting firm specializing in land use politics.  He is also an adjunct faculty member at Emerson College, the nation’s only four-year institution dedicated exclusively to communications and the performing arts. His email is