Our world is experiencing a rapid change of values as people find new meaningfulness in sustainability, positive social impact and inclusiveness in order to revolutionise the current traditional concept of everyday.1 Along with that the business world has started to adapt and thus embrace those values in its core. Companies all over the world are looking beyond current performance indicators into long-term social goals, shared by both internal and external stakeholders. UHF is positioned to be a constructive force in leading them as they dedicate to those values and a way of broader systems thinking.
Having a strategic vision is a key step for the long-term development of any company, a way to bridge the actions and the desired outcomes. In other words, in this way companies formulate their central and potential strategic concepts, which itself allows for a more complex understanding of the different relationships within, such as positive feedback loops, clusters of ideas (which are semi-separable and close in nature), or on the contrary – orphan (or disconnected) concepts and areas where a gap exists. The adoption of values such as sustainability and positive social impact has also reflected in the strategic vision of businesses that have embraced these values. Along with this, companies have realised that a different approach in analysing and translating their strategies is needed. UHF has successfully led them by guiding a transition from their vision, through the goals it encompasses and ultimately its translation.
One innovative way of enhancing strategic analysis is using a qualitative approach in analysing a company’s vision. This is an alternative to looking at performance indicators and can be understood as distilling the implicit cause-and-effect relationships that emerge from sources like documentation or conversation. What would the advantage of this approach be? Quite importantly, a qualitative approach first and foremost shows to what extent the strategic vision is actually understood by different stakeholders. It is then able to describe the major themes and challenges that arise, contextualise each point, and do it with a different perspective compared to traditional performance indicator analysis. A qualitative lens will also aid the creation of a framework, which helps to go beyond separate or isolate key subsets of concepts and allows understanding the “system as a whole.”
However, this is not to say that a quantitative approach is not important. On the contrary: Quantitative analysis works in complement with its qualitative counterpart in a way that has proven highly successful in other fields, such as academic research (where one may come across it as “mixed methods ”).2 A quantitative approach can give answers to many of the questions that have arisen from the qualitative framework (and vice versa). But it is equally as important that a quantitative approach is as innovative as its qualitative supplement and that it goes beyond simple analysis of performance indicators. It can be enhanced by implementing more complex methods such as cognitive mapping (which identifies a set of candidate variables) and multi-criteria decision analysis (which captures the relative importance of these variables). This allows for an optimisation model which represents the value function implicit in a set of key performance indicators. The value function is then highly informative for achieving the strategic goals of the company.
What is the impact of such a complex deliverable? The information provided by a mixed-methods analysis is richer and of higher value for the business. It also aids an informed understanding among stakeholders and is of immense value for further optimisation models. Last but not least, it allows for the inclusion of values such as sustainability and positive social impact in a company’s strategic framework.