At its simplest, strategy is a purpose that guides everyone in the firm in their everyday work and decision-making. This purpose guides managers and staff toward some eventual improved state. Strategy should address a challenge. Here’s an example form: Because A has a problem with B, we reckon that if we do C to D, we’ll achieve outcome E.
Often managers need help in developing and implementing strategy.
Timeless Time consultants have built and implemented strategy in a host of firms.
Here’s an example of a simple strategy for some kids wanting to earn pocket money:
Because the old folk in the houses at the end of the road (A) have problems cutting their lawns (B), we reckon that if we buy a lawn mower (C) and find where we can dump the cuttings (C) and then knock on the old folks’ doors (C/D) to offer our lawn cutting services (C), we’ll earn £50 a week between us (E).
The problem (A/B) is stated from the customer’s perspective.
Without a strategic direction, your firm will get somewhere for sure – just not where you wanted it to end up. It might be defined by the mission, values and vision.
Whatever form it takes, it needs to say what your firm will do to achieve its end. It mustn’t be a set of fluffy statements: it must not be ‘bad strategy’. Sometimes strategy is handed down. Sometimes it emerges. Sometimes it evolves. But it always needs to be developed.
Strategy implementation requires the development of a set of policies and objectives that say how you’ll achieve some future improved state. It must give a way forward. It must address a problem and say how you’ll exploit opportunity and overcome weakness. Generally that improved state is some time off so short-term objectives and plans are needed to map the course to eventual strategy realisation.
Strategy involves five things:
- Articulating some problem or challenge that the firm needs to overcome, and elaborating that challenge until the reasons why it exists (and why it hasn’t already been done) are well understood.
- Expressing a clear view of the reality of where the firm is today, and that includes its people innovation initiatives, processes, markets, sales successes and financial metrics.
- Identifying opportunities that might be exploited to help overcome the problem or challenge, and with that identifying associated risks that need to be mitigated.
- Having a clear vision of how management will defeat the problem and rise to the challenge in the coming time period. This vision is tempered by what’s possible and involves making strategy choices.
- Having a plan that management will implement to move from the present situation to some improved situation in line with the vision.
- Strategy may be incomplete. It may be built over time. It may evolve.
There’s no single approach to making strategy happen. It’s unique to the firm and its management team.
Typically strategy happens by making changes in the firm. It may be up-skilling the people, developing new product or entering new markets. Strategy orients resources, energy and attention towards one or more outcomes (to the detriment of others). It may be implementing some grand plan for change. Or it may be planning to change incrementally over time.