The Knowledge Café can play a central role in both the formulation, communication and execution of an open or adaptive strategy.
There is no prescription in applying the Knowledge Café to open/adaptive strategy making.
The idea is to take a more conversational approach to the interactions that help formulate and execute a strategy compared to more traditional ways.
Guideline #1 All conversations/meetings should take the Café principles into account.
Guideline #2 Where ever appropriate the Café process should be used or adapted to run strategy meetings.
The various adaptations of the Café should be studied to learn how it may be used for different ends. The purposes listed below are probably the most relevant.
Benefits of the Knowledge Café
1) Better involvement of more people in the formulation of the strategy
The Café can be used to help formulate the strategy. Meetings concerning the development of the strategy could be conducted to the Café format or draw on the Café principles.
Different groups can explore the implications (risks and opportunities) of the issues facing the organization through a number of Cafés.
2) Improved communication of the strategy
The Café can be used to better communicate the strategy to the whole organization by running a series of informational Knowledge Cafés rather than through traditional presentations.
A potential Café question might be “What do you make the strategy?”
3) Increased commitment and engagement from more people to delivery of the strategy
Once the strategy has been communicated, more specific Cafés can be run that are tuned to the context of different business units or departments.
A potential Café question might be “What does X mean for the business?” (where X is a feature of the strategy)
4) Improved planning for the implementation of the strategy
Once every business unit or department understands the strategy and what it means for them. They can ask start to plan their role in the strategy in more detail.
A potential Café question might be “What do we need to do to make this strategy a reality?”
5) Better implementation and adaptation of the strategy.
Once the execution of the strategy gets under-way, there will be problems, road-blocks and over-looked and unintended consequences (both good and bad). New opportunities will also emerge. These need to be overcome or taken advantage of and the strategy adapted accordingly.
The Café can play an important role in bringing people together to discuss these issues and make decisions in a creative manner.
Potential Café questions might be “How do we overcome this problem?” or “How do we seize this opportunity?” or “How might we adapt our strategy in light of this new knowledge?”
Adapting the process
Even if you find that you need to adopt a more conventional approach to the strategy formulation stage, then you can use Knowledge Cafés to achieve all the other benefits of better communication, engagement, planning, implementation, and adaptation.
Improved decision making
There are also a number of decision-making benefits of the Knowledge Café.
- increases cognitive diversity
- helps reduce groupthink
- helps reduce group polarization
- creates an environment of psychological safety where people are not afraid to speak up and to speak their minds
- Havard Business Review: How to Have an Honest Conversation About Your Business Strategy
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