Businesses have come to accept the fact that they can no longer afford to operate as if their companies will go on forever. Strategy has become essential in determining success and future growth for companies, and according to author Nadya Zhexembayeva, those strategies
must be in line with the direction of the economy. In this interview, the innovation and sustainable growth expert addresses key points from her book Overfished Ocean Strategy, such as how our
economy is changing and how striking a balance between strategy and execution is essential to succeed.
Soundview: [Your] book takes readers through five essential principles for a new strategic direction. You point out that the traditional economy has very much taken the shape of a line. What shape are we moving toward?
Nadya Zhexembayeva: We are running out of the era of lean economy, the time where we mine something or get something out of the earth, use it barely once and trash it at the end of the lifecycle. That reality is coming to the end because we are running out of
things to mine but we are also running out of places to trash. What we are seeing today is we are moving from line to circle, from linear to circle economy and that is not lean. Nature has been doing this for billions of years. Nature's economy is not linear, it's circular.
Similarly, we are seeing today companies and a range of industries, whether it's shore industries that produces carpets or my jeans that produces apparel and clothing of different [kinds]. Where companies are turning away from linear wear, you see circular. They're taking their own products and
then they will recycle after the customer already used it, and reusing that again endlessly in that way controlling their own cost structure but also creating a much more relevant way of producing products and services.
Soundview: Tell me about the connection between strategy and execution as it regards this material. This is an area where some people again they might be looking for that straight line. What's a better way to view the journey through the Overfished Ocean Strategy?
Zhexembayeva: Strategy without execution really makes no sense. The idea that we can develop a good and shiny strategy and then start thinking about execution is simply absurd. It's not only about our fished ocean strategy, any strategy has to be developed
with a very clear understanding whether or not this strategy is executable.
In that sense, I am a big believer in emerging strategy meaning that we turn towards a general direction, we set up the limits of our strategy journey but we don't think about it as a hard plan with step-by-step approach. Most of the time our strategic victories are not because we have a good
plan, it's because we had great discoveries along the way. Here, too, giving yourself a freedom in an emergent way and allowing yourself to experiment and adjust within the set boundaries is probably a better approach instead of strictly confining yourself to a day-by-day plan, but most of the time
is absolute by the time the plan itself is published.