115 – Roadmap, recipe or game plan. Does it matter which metaphor you use?

Posted by Whistler                                                                            360 words

neverland cake

There are various metaphors for organisational strategy in circulation. The idea that it is a road map for a journey to a predetermined destination undertaken in a car while watching the dashboard (to know the car is working properly) is popular. One I was less familiar with is Norton and Kaplan’s cooking metaphor.

They describe an on organisation is an assemblage of ingredients brought together to make a meal. Making the meal requires raw materials (ingredients), tangible capital and assets (cooking implements, an oven), and intangible human assets (the chef). A great meal requires a recipe to take advantage of these tangible and intangible assets. The recipe transforms assets that each has standalone value into a great meal with greater combined value. The recipe corresponds to an organisational strategy that combines resources and capabilities to create unique value.

Another metaphor that I relate to is the game plan. It can be the difference between two teams when one team has a game plan (strategy) that has plays to maximise the capabilities of the height, size, speed and skills of its players (assets and resources). The coach will try to work out the best tactics to optimise the team’s performance and neutralise any advantages of the other team. Players dribbling the ball over the half way line and shouting ’boards’ before shooting or going coast to coast against the whole opposition team aren’t encouraged – even if they happen to score some of the time.

At work I sometimes have the feeling that I am on a road trip and lost with a lot of friendly people doing their best to get back on track. Or I am cooking on My Kitchen Rules with a partner who just wants their part of the dish to be perfect, even if mine is not. And regularly I have the same feeling I had at basketball tournaments when our team was being beaten by a smaller, slower, less skilled team because we weren’t playing to a plan.

When there is talk of rate capping, it is like looking over to the next court and seeing the team you are playing next and they are bigger and faster. A hiding is inevitable unless we get smarter about our game plan.

Norton, Robert S. and Kaplan, David P. 2001. The Strategy-Focussed Organisation.