It’s often said, you should never let the
facts get in the way of a good story. But you should let facts —lots of them—get in the way of a bad strategy. What happens when data from thousands of companies enter the strategy room? What happens to the human biases and social dynamics that usually hold sway? We’ve all seen hockey stick business plans before. They paint a future where results sail confidently upward, with an initial dip that just happens to coincide with next year’s budget. CEOs usually rely on their experience and
business smarts to figure out which of those hockey sticks are real, and which are fantasies. But as unit heads compete for resources and
strive to boost their own careers, they present overly rosy pictures that make it hard for
CEOs to decide what’s really right for the company. Another strategy framework? No thanks, we already have plenty of those,
and they don’t fix the real problem: the social side of strategy. Mining the data from thousands of large companies,
we have opened the windows of your strategy room to bring an “outside view”. We have found three discrete groups of companies:
the bottom quintile, with massive economic losses;
the long flat middle 60 percent, with practically no economic profit;
and the top 20 percent – to whom all the value accrues. Some companies do achieve real hoc key stick
performance: but just 1-in-12 jump from the middle tier
to the top over a 10-year period. Those leaps don’t happen by magic—there’s
an empirically backed science to improving your odds of success. How? By capitalizing on your endowment, riding
the right trends, and, most importantly, making a few big moves. To make these big moves happen you’re going
to have to deal with the social side of strategy. Left unchecked, human biases and social dynamics
breed incrementalism, every single time. You’re going to have to break through inertia,
gamesmanship and risk aversion. You’re going to have to mitigate human biases
and manage group dynamics. Eight practical shifts can help you do this,
and unlock bigger, bolder, and better strategies. This is not another by-the-book approach to
strategy. It’s not another trudge through frameworks,
or small-scale case studies, promising some secret formula for success. It’s an irreverent, fact-driven, and humorous
take on the real world of the strategy room and how business leaders can practically deal
with the social side of strategy.

Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick
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