How do you know your strategy tool works?

How do you know your strategy tool works? This question has long haunted strategy consultants because using one tool naturally excludes the use of another and thus a comparison.

We propose a simple yet powerful method to assess the effectiveness of a workshop-based strategy tool. Using participants’ evaluation of planned future actions’ relative impact on strategy, it is possible to compare two strategy tools and determine if one of them is statistically more effective than the other. It is also possible to compare the use of a tool to not using it.

We propose to use the freely available statistical method—the Mann-Whitney U test—for the calculation.

The case organization

Complex organizational problems stood in the way of a new strategy at a diesel engine company. 12 strategy implementation workshops were planned with the purpose of solving the problems while ensuring that the solutions were aligned with the new strategy. High relative impact on strategy indicated an effective workshop.

We facilitated six of the workshops with narrative interview technique and compared the results with the results of the other six workshops without narrative facilitation.

The effectiveness assessment

The statistical test showed that the actions defined at the workshops with narrative facilitation had a significantly higher impact on strategy.

Take research out of the lab

Our data and the way we gathered them fell short of meeting the statistical (quantitative) criteria for research data, but they are borne out of action. Although far away from the clinical settings of a lab experiment, action research has something else to offer: a freely available effectiveness assessment that can guide other strategy consultants’ work and help them answer the question: “how do you know your tool works?”

Read our narrative interview guide along with a process and context guide in our paper which is available for 30-days (free access) beginning  15 October.

After you’ve had a chance to read this piece, please share your thoughts, ideas, or experiences with our community in the comments below so we can continue this discussion!