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HOI research | How dialogue shapes strategy implementation

Engaging in dialogue can significantly shape how new strategies are implemented within organizations. A study published in the Journal of Knowledge Management explores the different ways conversations among employees help identify and develop opportunities to implement new strategies.

Understanding how conversations drive strategy

Implementing a new strategy is crucial for organizations. It involves understanding environmental changes, defining a new direction, and fostering business concepts for improved performance. Traditional views imply a structured transformation process controlled by top management, but this study looks at how employees at all levels use dialogue to shape and enact strategies.

Transforming dialogue into actionable strategies

The research aimed to uncover how framing processes within dialogues enables the evolution of opportunities for strategy implementation. By analyzing conversations among pairs of employees, the study sought to understand how these interactions help in identifying and refining opportunities that forge the organization’s new strategic directions.

"Our biggest challenge was capturing the real-time dynamics of conversations and understanding how these shape individual perceptions and actions toward strategy implementation,” said study co-author Roberto Verganti of the House of Innovation. 

Key research findings

  • Framing processes in dialogue: The study identified four main framing processes: shaping, unveiling, scattering, and shifting. Each process influences how employees perceive and act on opportunities.
  • Tangible opportunities: The "shaping" process helps transform abstract ideas into concrete actions, making it easier for employees to see how they can contribute to strategy implementation.
  • Elevating new values: The "unveiling" process elevates discussions to new value hierarchies, helping employees see the bigger picture and align their actions with broader strategic goals.
  • Clarifying initiatives: The "scattering" process allows employees to elaborate on identified opportunities by asking precise questions, leading to a more detailed and robust understanding of the opportunity.
  • Overcoming obstacles: The "shifting" process helps employees tackle hurdles in strategy implementation by offering new perspectives and solutions to challenges faced.

Future research and practice

This research highlights the importance of dialogue in strategy implementation, suggesting that fostering open conversations can lead to better alignment and more effective execution of new strategies. Future research could explore other organizational settings and further investigate how different types of dialogue impact strategy implementation.

"Our findings suggest that encouraging dialogue at all organizational levels can lead to more robust and innovative strategy implementation, ultimately benefiting the organization's adaptability and growth." – Roberto Verganti

Meet the researchers

  • Paola Bellis: School of Management, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy.
  • Silvia Magnanini: School of Management, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy.
  • Roberto Verganti: House of Innovation, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm, Sweden; Harvard Business School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; School of Management, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy.
House of Innovation Innovation Leadership Management Strategy Article Journal Publication Research