Stratnet Sàrl, a Switzerland-based network of strategy advisors, celebrated its 25th birthday in June 2023. 25 years age of a start-up firm can be framed by some statistics. One third of enterprises established in Western countries exit during first two years, half during first five years, and only some 12 per cent reach the age of 25 years. The oldest still functioning company in the world, Kongo Gumi (construction company), was established in 578. Stora Enso is the oldest publicly noted company. There are more than 5.500 firms that are more than 200 years old.
Chronological age of organizations has some general interest. Biological age, though, is more appealing than chronological age, especially when there is a difference between the two. This leads us to think of what are roots of longevity. One important observation that scientists have found in studying people who have arrived 100 years healthy and active is that those individuals are imbued with a sense of purpose, and they are connected in deep web of community.
One important observation that scientists have found in studying people who have arrived 100 years healthy and active is that those individuals are imbued with a sense of purpose, and they are connected in deep web of community.
Sense of purpose and energizing web of community carries organizations, too. This is what Stratnet has experienced as years go by. Often, like in the case of Stratnet, identities of founders, owners or entrepreneurs merge with their firms. Combining academic knowledge (A), business practice (B) and transformative capabilities of consulting (C) has been core of Stratnet’s founders, and hence Stratnet’s, identity. Sustainability-driven public insight (P) is a more recent add-on in the value base. Consequently, Stratnet is an ABPC-network. Network partners and friends have refined this identity toward an organization which aims at boosting strengths of individuals within the network – for the good of those involved, and with spill-over and impact in wider environment.
Individualized organizational network serves individuals, not vice versa. ABPC-networking aims at freeing capabilities and igniting renewal processes. This happens through learning by doing. Hence, from this perspective Stratnet’s identity can be defined as an inno-powered orchestrator. Impactful orchestration has become the art of managing or configurating assets that one does not own into one complete end-to-end process. Key success factor of an orchestrator is the ability to attract and keep up different type of members. Orchestration becomes inno-powered when the ambition is not only to configurate assets but to create something new and thus make impact.
Orchestration does not equal managing. While managing refers to leading and deciding, setting frames and inspiring facilitation toward desired impact or outcome are keys in orchestration. By the power of well-framed orchestration processes, clients and network members find the joy of innovation and renewal. When needed, network members also help in building “bridges over troubled waters”. As a result, value creation, capture, sharing – even longevity and viability follow.
While managing refers to leading and deciding, setting frames and inspiring facilitation toward desired impact or outcome are keys in orchestration. By the power of well-framed orchestration processes, clients and network members find the joy of innovation and renewal.
What does orchestration mean? ABPC-network resembles ecosystem, which must have a keystone or hub. Credibility of a hub calls for robust economic resources, strong leadership capabilities, or both. In the case of professional strategizing networks this means that facilitators must have unique proficiency both in strategy substance and facilitation process. In the case of Stratnet, shared facilitation role has worked amazingly well; a co-facilitator with strong knowledge in substance represents client organization(s) while Stratnet’s co-facilitator takes responsibility of offering strategizing frames, concepts and tools taking care of the facilitation process.
How does all this translate into the practice of inno-powered orchestration? There are several tipping point choices an orchestrator must consider. First, should renewal processes be geared around a disciplined agenda, or should an innovative jam prevail? Second, how to keep “true-believers” of status quo on board when changing strategic orientation? Third, how to mix internal and external voices (if any) in strategic inno-projects, and how to eliminate potential “value thiefs” in the network? Fourth, is it better to search and combine best existing ideas, or have the ambition of creating something completely new? Fifth, how to maintain agility in fast-growing and/or large (incumbent) organizations without falling into inertia trap? Sixth, how to balance focus between strengthening short-term competitive advantages of network members with developing long-term viability of society at large?
Seemingly simple answer to the questions above is that both-and solutions are needed. Hybrid orchestration is key. Stratnet has created and tested several concepts with its network partners (including clients) that can be applied in strategizing. Most recent examples of these concepts include strategic thinking, hybrid “in-between” business models, sustainable strategizing, open strategizing, and viability advantage. Constand action-learning has happened over the years. When developing new concepts stream of thought has deepened from practical tools and frames toward identity, mission and meaning, and simultaneously widened toward societal considerations.
Searching and finding ikigai can truly be a rewarding booster of long-term viability for orchestrators, other professional networks, as well as for individuals contributing in those.
The Japanese, who are the longest-lived people in the world, have the concept of ikigai, “the reason for being”. Ikigai can be found in the intersection of four considerations: “what you love”, “what you are good at”, “what the world needs”, and “what you can be paid for”. Searching and finding ikigai can truly be a rewarding booster of long-term viability for orchestrators, other professional networks, as well as for individuals contributing in those.
President & Founder