Appraise Strategy: Capability

When we want to appraise from a strategic perspective, one of the key elements to consider is our capability. Whilst I believe we should always begin with the ‘end in mind’, I think it is wise to also look at what are we good at now, what do we have in place, where is our area of expertise, what are we known for. In short what is our capability currently or core competencies? Whilst we may have to adjust and grow and change our capabilities, knowing our starting point is important in appraising strategically.

“Success means at least you are finding full potential to who you are in terms of your intelligence, your capability and competence: you are finding full expression to who you are." This is important according to, Jaggi Vasudev. Whilst he was referring to an individual, I believe it also holds true for the organisation.

When we are not mindful of our capabilities, we can ask an organisation to do things that is literally not capable of doing. This can lead to false starts, frustrations and goals being set that are not achievable. There is nothing wrong with strategic milestones that build capability, in fact that's desirable. But an assessment and appraisal of our current capabilities is paramount when strategic mapping. Ideally what we want is capabilities aligned with our desired strategic outcomes.

The answer lies in realistic appraisal of our current capabilities, and ultimately an understanding of the future capabilities we need to build. Strategy is often bridging the gap between the two. If we appraise our capability well, it will help guide us into areas where we can achieve the goals we set.

If there is a disconnect between our understanding of our capability and the practical realities of what is there, then unrealistic goals are set, unrealistic expectations prevail, and strife is inevitable.

One of the key principles of understanding capability is looking at empirical independent evidence. We may think we're good at something but are we really? Do we take our customer feedback seriously; do we take our staff surveys seriously?

Appraising our capability needs to be done impartially and preferably with external eyes, without agenda, not clouded by local perceptions. Unfortunately, what we want and what we have, are often two different things. But we need to know what we really have.

Great strategy prepares us for a future environment by building capabilities we will need in the future. A few years ago, digital marketing was a nice to have, now is in central part of any business being successful. All organisations have had to look at their existing capabilities, recognise a need for change, and build those competencies and capabilities into their organisations or rapidly become irrelevant.

My daughter has a friend who is a colour-blind electrician. Yes, I kid you not. My understanding was that to wire a house safely you needed to be able to tell the difference between the colours of the wires. This was a capability I assumed was necessary. However apparently due to technology and various ways that wires are constructed and coded this capability is apparently not necessarily required. That's probably an unfortunate example because I think I would have more confidence in someone who can tell the difference between green and red, however I think the example still stands.

Knowing what we need and understanding our capability is an important part of how we appraise potential strategies. So, do you know what your capabilities are? How good is your organisation at doing what will be necessary in the future? If we are to appraise effectively, we do need to understand our current capabilities and the ones we will need in the future. .

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