The problem with traditional top-down strategy process is that whatever is “cascaded” down through the organisation, is not seen as relevant or urgent by those who are supposed to execute the strategy (which is, hopefully, everybody). This leads to strategy processes getting a bad reputation of being a waste of time and resources, since whatever is decided never really “means anything”.

We were approached by a very ambitious town that wanted to do things differently. The town is known for its high quality of life and great natural beauty, meaning it should quite easily attract both young families and the nature-loving tourists. The struggle, however, is the extreme decentralisation. The town is scattered across thousands of beautiful little islands, which affect both everyday life in the town, but also the nature of work in the municipal organisation. Staff is very geographically dispersed and those working in the outer regions of the archipelago felt somewhat left behind by the people on the main island.

In a setting like this – how do you co-create strategy, involving as many as possible? How do you start creating a feeling of shared purpose and a clear common vision, despite all geographical obstacles (that are very real in a in the middle of an icy winter in the archipelago)?

The interactive strategy

In the case of the island town, what solved the issues was a co-creative, interactive strategy process that everyone could participate in. When we say everyone, we don’t mean everyone in the management team, or all middle managers. We went further than that. Anyone interested was welcome to join the strategy team, regardless what their position was  in the organisation. Ultimately, 20% of the employees participated in the process of creating the new strategy and through their involvement, hundreds of inhabitants were included through interviews. Furthermore, local businesses and politicians were engaged, interviewed and collaborated with.

This large scale engagement meant that everyone knew how the strategy process unfolded and felt they could contribute. Those participating in the strategy workshops became strategy agents, making sure their colleagues were in the know regarding the development of the new strategy.  Even if someone wasn’t participating in the formal strategy work, they knew someone who was and could share their ideas with this colleague.

A tool for co-creation

So, how was all this possible? The key to involving a large portion of the organisation, as well as hundreds of other stakeholders, was the TalentMiles App. The TalentMiles App became the backbone of the creative strategy process; a place to collect everybody’s ideas, a communication tool for sharing information about the next steps of the strategy process and  a platform for co-creating the new.

In the case of the island town, we saw that engaging everyone really makes for better strategy. The outcome of this large-scale operation was a strategy that everyone knew and owned, even before it was formally published. This is because the strategy so clearly reflected the stories told in the organisation and the community in general. The strategy wasn’t born in a boardroom or during a management team retreat, but rather, in discussion between colleagues, neighbours and friends.

The interactive strategy was a fun and exciting process, but most importantly, there was no time consuming cascading of ideas, no “selling the idea” to anyone. With the help of the TalentMiles App the island city could engage a large portion of its geographically distributed organisation in an engaging and personal strategy process, resulting in a better strategy and effortless execution.