Corporations create strategies with the intention of their departments and employees following them. However, marching in line with a plan eliminates strategic tension that can fuel creativity and opportunities to advance. It’s a fine line between fueling success and creating confusion and failure.
What is Strategic Tension
The difference between wrote compliance and diverging too far from the corporate strategy creates dissonance or stress. The Yerkes-Dobson Law, which finds better performance associated with varying degrees of physical or mental arousal, points to the perfect tension idea in business applications as well.
The scale flows from boredom to ideal levels of stress to burnout. Either extreme is detrimental to success. Exciting yet controllable growth happens in that middle sweet spot.
Strategic boredom comes from too-close compliance with the original plan and lack of deviation at any time. This means no or little risk, something that fuels psychological interest. To put it simply, employees lose their drive if they are doing the same thing ad infinitum and are discouraged from having ideas or getting creative.
Strategic burnout comes from “ooh something shiny!” syndrome where too many market changes, new ideas, or projects get attention, unrealistic plans, and allowing employees or teams to run with their own ideas whenever they appear. Organization suffers, people become confused, and the end goal dissipates in a spaghetti of project paths.
Benefits of Ideal Strategic Tension
Businesses achieve this sweet spot of productivity and invention when differing work styles mesh into cohesive forward motion. It is when creative minds mesh with executive ones, and risk takers mesh with those focused on the basics.
Instead of one formal plan everyone marches toward, and instead of fifty divergent plans that leads people in odd directions, the right amount of strategic tension reaches goals while exploring new possibilities. It allows for exciting corporate growth without taking on excessive risk.
How to Achieve This Strategic Stress Goal
The most important step to achieving this is accepting that it works. Eschew rigidity but keep an eye on forward motion. Encourage a combination of proper plan execution and dissent by those who challenge the plan. Do not let ego and the idea that your way is the right or only way stymie fresh progress.
Limit autonomy by promoting it within a structured plan. Give employees a free day to explore their own ideas. Hold monthly or bi-monthly “anything goes” meetings for people to share ideas and brainstorm new ones. If ideas make sense, make a plan to execute them instead of simply allowing free rein.
Another important aspect of fostering the correct levels of strategic stress involves employing a diverse range of people. Different backgrounds, ideologies, experience levels, educations, and psychological types can cause dynamic tension and take the corporation down new avenues of growth and success you had never considered.
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