Of course, the immediate response is “YES!” As business people, we’ve been told continuously that we need a strategy to know where we are heading. But why is it that we don’t always get strategy right? Here are some hints and tips for getting a strategy that works for you.
S is for succinct – The ultimate rule: keep it simple, the details should exist and are important, but the challenge for you is to generate a strategy map or direction that can fit into an easily readable format. What is the smallest amount of paper you can use to capture your strategy?
T is about time – There is never enough of it, but with strategy, sometimes time doesn’t even get a look-in. By that I mean that we spend our entire session developing a plan for the next few years, only to look at it infrequently. If you do the maths, an average strategy that lasts three years may only be looked at six times. Hardly seems worth it.
R is for reflection – When reviewing your strategy, it is OK to change it upon reflection. Some of the best businesses have changed direction over time and at some point in that organisation’s history, a smart person asked “Are we in the right business?” Take 3M for example, who started out in mining – look where they are now.
A is for advice – Rather than thinking you know it all, ask someone who has no political, vested, or income-generated position to give you advice on what they think about your strategy. Better yet, get them to give you advice at key strategic intervals for your business.
T is for talk about it – Strategy is kind of like the vegetable of the business world, it needs some marketing! Get the people interested, get the strategy on agenda items, involve the business, engage and educate.
E is for make it easy – Easy to read, no jargon, no catch phrases and no ambiguity to risk it being misinterpreted. Direct to the point, try to write it as though you are explaining it to someone who knows nothing about your industry.
G is for group – A strategy is a group activity, collective not individual. But not a group of “yes men”, rather a group of challengers, thought provokers and visionaries. So choose your participants carefully, as they will set the direction of your business for upcoming years.
Y is about you – Your understanding, how do you interpret the direction of where you are heading, does it make sense to you? At the end of the day, you are the one who have to deliver it.
So next time you think strategy, consider the following – My strategy is going to be succinct, I’m going to take time to review it and reflect, get advice if I need it, talk about it and get people involved. I’m not going to develop this in isolation, I am going to get a group together that I trust.
Most of all, this is a strategy for my role, I am going to own it, because, it does matter!