A book review.
Translating Strategy into Action in Complex Organizations
by Andrew MacLennan
This book provides extensive insight and guidance on executing on business strategy. The author is an academic and this comes across in the work, but it's in a good way; the book is thorough and references the author's original research while remaining readable. I wound up using the author's suggested methodologies in my day job as well as in a masters dissertation on risk management.
One of the author's proposals for managing risks in strategic execution is to create a map that breaks the strategy down into one or more chains of cause and effect, with the eventual outcomes matching the organization's stated strategic objectives. Using such a "causal map" it is possible to append risks to each cause/effect coupling. The author identifies two broad categories of such risks:
- Failures of intended outcomes.
- Negative unintended effects.
The methodology, though over-simplified here, contains a good deal of power. It forces specific cause-and-effect relationships to be fully thought out, yields easy-to-communicate (and comprehend) diagrams, and shows the relevance of risks to strategic implementation visually.
My work, and studies, are in risk management. Though only one chapter of this book explicitly deals in risk, it blends risk management into decision-making in what this researcher believes is the appropriate level for acting on strategic initiatives.
The author has jointly created an online course at Edinburgh Business School at Heriot-Watt University, I intend to take that course as a result of this introduction.