The number of roles I’ve performed that are supposedly strategic but then you ultimately end up dealing with the 'proper' stuff.
Many people are paid to float around in ‘strategy land’, thinking up lots of things that will never see the light of day over the next ten years and beyond.
The tangible value comes from those who can resolve the real issues (usually these are as strategic as toilets, lockers, canteens and car parks), understand the true root causes (most probably leadership) and deal with those issues to improve things in the long term for employees (i.e. the culture).
One of the best examples I can give is my meeting with the ER Director when I joined a very large blue chip organisation.
She was a ‘strategist’. She took me through her very fancy ER strategy for the company, which she had ‘implemented’.
When I asked her which Trade Union Reps and employees she had involved in implementing the strategy, she looked at me in sheer bewilderment. She asked me why I thought they should be involved when they would just criticise the strategy. I felt like we were writing a new line for the Alanis Morrisette song “ironic”!
I’m a simple person who raises simple, yet fundamental questions - she took exception to me asking how an employee relations strategy that overlooks building relations with employees could possibly work.
When I invited her to meet with employees to get to know them, unsurprisingly, she didn’t take me up on the offer.
When I questioned why we would ever write employee relations strategies when we didn’t appreciate the value in talking to employees, it was probably one step too far!
I’m not one for theories or sayings but Peter Drucker is spot on when he says 'culture eats strategy for breakfast.'
Strategy is important - just make sure you can (and do) absolutely practice what you preach!