Expert View: 'Strategy Without Implementation Is Hallucination.'

We spoke to Ignaas Caryn, Director, Corporate Strategy at Air France-KLM


Ahead of his presentation at the Chief Strategy Officer Summit in London this April 25&26, we spoke to Ignaas Caryn, Director, Corporate Strategy at Air France-KLM.

Ignaas is working within the Air France-KLM Group’s corporate strategy team. He is deeply involved in the strategic planning process, strategy implementation, M&A activities, strategic partnerships, and the development of new business models. Before joining corporate strategy, he established innovation and corporate venturing activities within KLM, including two corporate venture funds. He also played an important role in developing new value chains, such as for sustainable aviation fuels. Additionally, Ignaas has been working closely with public-private partnerships such as Climate KIC and the UN Sustainable Bioenergy Group. He is a frequent guest lecturer at Imperial Business School and RSM.

How do you think the role of a strategist is changing?

A strategist should be able to make strategy a more continuous process, which should be driven by a more vivid dialogue within and outside a company. It’s about creating a movement that no longer treats strategy as a ‘board only’ responsibility and a once a year (or even less frequent) discussion. 5-year plans don’t work anymore, it’s about building options to be prepared for whatever future may unfold, and steering that future where possible. Strategists should enrich strategy with outside-in and longer term views and relentlessly challenge status quo.

What are the main elements of a successful business strategy?

A good strategy should combine internal and external views, short-term improvements, long-term opportunities, and tackle organizational dynamics and resource allocation. As 'strategy without implementation is hallucination', a good strategy should include a clear implementation agenda and follow-up processes.

What can companies do to adjust to the new climate of the global political and economic uncertainty?

No one can predict the future, but by developing potential future scenarios (based on key drivers and uncertainties) and their implications, a company can reflect on how it would perform in those scenarios, and what actions could help to improve its performance (preferably across some or all scenarios). Consider involving people from different parts of your organization, and even your suppliers and customers.

How can organizations and startups benefit from each other?

Startups are focused, lean, and fast. Characteristics which incumbent often lacks. However, corporates have size and reach, knowledge, network, and a capital. Combining these elements can help a startup to survive the ‘valley of death’ and spur innovation within corporates.

How do you ensure your long term plans are reactive to disruption?

Scenarios offer perspectives on how the future might look like. Building perspectives derived from future scenarios into your strategic planning processes can give you a sense of the scale of the changes that might occur. Building a portfolio of options can make a company better prepared to seize opportunities and address challenges.

You can hear more about Ignaas and other industry leaders at the Chief Strategy Officer Summit, taking place in London this April 25&26.

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