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The New Strategic Management Paradigm
Now, more than ever before the need for strategic management in sports is evident. These unpredictable times are greatly influenced by the pandemic and other environmental issues. The conditions affect many sports organizations rendering them unable to manage strategically.
While limited strategic planning and basic financial forecasting may occur, it is not true strategic management. There’s a world of difference between planning—a C-Suite activity involving only the top leadership-- and strategic management-- involving everyone in the organization.
For it to take place, everyone has to be aware of the strategy used and the mission of the organization. They have to be able to internalize the strategy and understand their part in it. Employees must be able to verbalize the mission with their own words rather than simply memorize it. They must agree with it and identify with it.
These issues are not small. The difficulty in developing a supportive mission-oriented and strategic organizational culture is significant. Leaders and employees must be engaged. If the organization's culture is not supportive of the strategy, its implementation is impossible. Planning is less difficult than execution. In the face of the challenges of these times, the success of strategies requires new paradigms of strategic management.
Currently, many forces in the environment may complicate strategic management. People are increasingly working from home and demanding flexibility. Managing a virtual team is much more difficult than managing a team on site. At the same time, baby-boomer managers are retiring in ever-growing numbers and leadership positions are taken by generation X leaders or even millennials.
This creates a cultural shift in itself resulting in adjustment as leadership styles change. Technology is becoming a more important factor in interpersonal communication further limiting opportunities for face-to-face interactions. People tend to communicate via text and email more than in person or even by phone.
However, written communication is not as rich and does not allow non-verbal communication. It is likely to cause more miscommunication and misunderstandings. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of conflict that requires, ironically, face-to-face meetings to resolve and manage. It is a difficult cycle and managers are more and more challenged to keep up with the pace. This is further complicated by the fact that virtual work is increasingly asynchronous. Employees are having fewer and less synchronous interactions.
Isolation and loneliness leading to increases stress is frequently experienced by virtual workers and needs to be managed. Ultimately the organizational reality, to many employees and managers may appear absurd and chaotic, creating demands seemingly overwhelming. The needs for more in-person interaction and virtual working are opposite forces creating an impossible dilemma that is eluding a management solution.
All of the internal factors described above should be enough to discourage even the most passionate and committed leader. However, there is much more to worry about. The workforce has become increasingly diverse and the ongoing political turmoil has made everyone less likely to agree with each other. We are all living in an increasingly divided society with an increasing amount of conflict and unrest. With the external environment in a state of constant change and tension, strategic managers just cannot keep up with their ability to forecast and understand their competitive landscapes.
The ever-adjusting, unpredictable, and unstable economic conditions and the natural environment are dynamic. Constant flux is the norm for commonly observed external variables. As difficult as projecting is now, accurate predicting is more important than ever. The success formula calls for adaptation to shifts in the external environment that are correctly anticipated.
Strategies are typically determined by combining internal strengths and weaknesses with external opportunities and threats. However, with all of these factors changing so fast, how is a leader supposed to formulate any comprehensible strategies? One answer is to maintain an attitude of strategic intent and develop learning organizations that are flexible and risk-tolerant.
Leaders must promote innovation and creativity and instill trust within their organizations. Engaged and loyal employees tend to perform better and undertake actions that are consistent with the organization’s mission and strategies. They also tend to suggest strategies and tactics that the leaders may not have considered. Often, the best innovations come from the line employees. When employees are allowed to be involved in the strategic management process, they tend to be more committed to the outcomes and engaged with the processes.
The chaotic and absurd environment can be an opportunity rather than an obstacle. It calls for leaders to relinquish their need for control and place emphasis on team motivation. An open and honest discussion of employee challenges and support for their needs and anxieties are precepts. This leadership paradigm can formulate and implement effective strategies regardless of internal or external environmental challenges.