Strategy- A Complicated Way to Describe Something Simple?

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Only 3 things are needed to have a strategy. Knowledge of where you are, understanding where you want to get to and devising a plan to make it happen. If only it were that simple.

The problem is that not all strategic objectives are the same in terms of scale and complexity and arguably strategy is not just restricted to corporate objectives. It is common to have strategic goals in business units, departments and teams, meaning there are quite a few to deal with simultaneously.

Strategic objectives are designed to have significant impact and make the organisation stronger mid to long term. Work to deliver on those, cannot come at the cost of not dealing with the day-to-day operations supporting the business today. It’s above and beyond effort, not substitute effort.

Typically, delivery of a strategic objective is through one or more projects and regularly they need supported with resources that without proper control and prioritisation become swamped and stressed.

So, the complexity comes from multiple demands making it important to clearly assess the impact and effort required to make things happen. It is important to continually stress that your executive team engage and determine priorities to ensure everyone stays aligned.

Defining your Current Situation-Reality 

Having a real understanding of the current situation is the key to delivering success. Yet, there is a temptation to dive in and get on with it, however it is short sighted and leads to issues later.

Your in-car Sat-Nav cannot guide you anywhere unless it knows where you are currently located and business is no different. Without detailed knowledge of what currently works and what doesn’t, you have little chance of implementing anything without creating a bit of chaos, therefore an in-depth review of facts and appropriate input from the people closest to whatever needs improved upon is necessary to get a firm grasp of the current situation.

Various techniques can be used to help draw information of value in this process. Brainstorming, SWOT analysis, 6-Hat Thinking, PESTLE, Porter’s are some of many tried and trusted methodologies and its worth assessing which is the most appropriate for the task in hand.

Capturing, sorting and evaluating this type of information can be difficult, however I have found MindMapping tools to be great in those situations as they make it easy to group related information and assess priorities.

Determining your Objectives-Vision 

Determining what you want to achieve is down to ambition and alignment with what your organisation, business unit, department, team is aiming to achieve. In an ideal world everything would be aligned, however there are times when specific local weaknesses need to be addressed and 100% alignment is not possible.

Corporate strategies aim to create more value from the collective business units than would be possible from the sum of each individual part.

It's thinking through how the business units within the corporation should fit together and how resources could be deployed to create the greatest possible value.

Determining what you want to achieve is down to ambition and alignment with what your organisation, business unit, department, team is aiming to achieve. In an ideal world everything would be aligned, however there are times when specific local weaknesses need to be addressed and 100% alignment is not possible.

Corporate strategies aim to create more value from the collective business units than would be possible from the sum of each individual part.

It's thinking through how the business units within the corporation should fit together and how resources could be deployed to create the greatest possible value.

Delivery Plan - Tactics

This is the current situation and over there is where we want to be – how do we get there? The answer to that question is your delivery plan.

The challenge needs to be broken down into deliverables and they need to be ordered and scheduled whilst considering constraints around resources, budget and allocated times. It is not easy, but the process provides objective evidence of what can and cannot be achieved. This is particularly important in setting expectations and ensuring appropriate resources are allocated for the duration.

The delivery plan can be used to highlight dependencies, milestones and critical paths all of which help manage the project through to successful conclusion.

Conclusion

Being strategic requires a sense of confidence in one’s decision making. You need to be perceptive, future orientated, open minded and proactive and ultimately take decisions based on evidence and calculated risks. You cannot allow yourself to get paralysed by the fear of failure.

Importantly, it demands that you take time to think and not always be consumed in the tactics of delivering for today.

I have found MindGenius and latterly Barvas ideal for structuring my thoughts and developing ideas. Those tools make it easy to restructure random thoughts and importantly make it easy to add further content at any point in the future.

The may find the following templates helpful in your Strategic Planning efforts:

SWOT 

PESTLE

Get started with Barvas for business strategy templates