Giving Compass’ Take:
• The authors discuss what they learned about adaptive strategy from innovation theory, measurement and data science and execution management.
• The authors talk about agile design when discussing adaptive strategy. When and how is agile design methodology helpful for organizations and when is it less productive?
• Read about six lessons in agile design geared specifically towards entrepreneurs.
This concept of “adaptive strategy” has been core to Monitor Institute by Deloitte’s work with nonprofits and foundations for nearly two decades now.
But as we’ve worked with clients in the days since we wrote that earlier piece, we’ve also been adapting our approach to adaptive strategy itself.
Over the last decade, interest in the theory and practice of innovation has moved from the fringes to the mainstream in both the private and social sectors. Our research into how to apply innovation concepts to philanthropy has taught us several practical lessons that have had important implications for strategy work.
First, we’ve learned that “widening your aperture” is critical to effective strategy. If you go into a strategy process with all the same inputs you always have, you’ll almost certainly get the same outcomes you always have. So it’s important to intentionally start the strategy process by exploring and opening yourself up to the full range of possibilities for your organization—taking inspiration from bright spots emerging in the field around you.
The second lesson we’ve learned from the innovation space is about the importance of designing and managing experiments—explicitly testing strategic elements in the field and adjusting them as necessary.
Even as the body of literature on lean startups and agile leadership grows, we’ve seen few mainstream organizations integrate adaptive feedback loops into their ongoing operational management and strategy development processes in a robust way. To do this effectively, an organization must be able to run a controlled test against clear learning and impact measures, capture the data necessary to evaluate how the experiment performed, and have a fast feedback loop back to the organization to decide whether and how to adjust the approach in the future.
Read the full article about adaptive strategy by Dana O’Donovan, Gabriel Kasper, and Nicole L. Dubbs at Stanford Social Innovation Review
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