How do different individuals approach strategy?


A recent study from McKinsey and Company has highlighted the significant variations that can occur within the strategic planning process, with different individuals approaching this process in their own ways.

The new study of Chief Strategy Officers (CSO) recorded five different categories that individuals can fall into when they approach the strategy planning process. The most common category was the ‘the architect’, with 40 per cent of CSOs falling into this space.

‘Architect’ strategic planners are more likely to be research-based, and will focus on how company and industry data can be used to build a competitive advantage.

This approach to strategic planning contrasts with other main CSO personalities, like ‘the visionary’. While only making up 14 per cent of CSOs, these individuals are much more attuned to the broader trends affecting their industry and are looking to direct a company strategy towards future opportunities and innovations.

McKinsey suggested these approaches to strategy also depend largely on the background and career that an individual has. CSOs in the finance industry, for example, are heavily weighted towards the business development aspects of strategy planning, more the 2.5 times the average for CSOs.

Similarly, those with a project management background will find themselves focussing more clearly on project management aspects of a company.

While these differences point to a significant variation in the way companies approach their strategy planning, the survey still highlighted the overall concerns that many CSOs have around their work. A large number (40 per cent) reported that they have concerns when it comes to translating strategy into actions for the company, especially when it comes to budgeting.

For companies, this research highlights the important limitations that come with a strategy planning process that is limited to a few individuals. By spreading the responsibility for developing a strategic plan, organisations will be able to overcome some of the individual attitudes that can shape the formation of company strategy.