Lewis Carrol coined the phrase, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” In today’s agile business world and rapidly changing markets, that is a recipe for trouble. Businesses need to be planful to stay in the race and get ahead. And for that, an agile strategy process is necessary to keep up with the changing landscape.
Strategic planning often begins with lofty aspirations and great ideas. The choices are many, and the list of good ideas long. After all, this is the easy part and where leadership excels. But the “devil is in the details,” and the realization of strategy is rooted in comprehensive planning upfront. With so many moving parts to your business that is not so easily accomplished, often leading to unrealized aspirations.
Strategy varies by industry and is unique for every company. With so many strategy planning models and tools to choose from, how to get started can be challenging. I have found this Blueprint for Strategy to be helpful. The blueprint begins at the highest level, focused around six key aspects of the plan. It considers the many facets of your business and where planning intersects, while examining numerous aspects of strategic intent and their associated risks. Experience is the best teacher and from that I have learned successful execution always begins with a good plan for the paths chosen.
Be it strategy for the overall company or a significant initiative; strategy needs to align with what you do and why you are in business. Orientation to vision, mission, purpose, and aspirations will harmonize strategy with your companies’ offerings and value propositions. Winning, what does that look like and how is it accomplished. Strategic intent mapped to reality and taking the time to understand risks is essential. The disciplines to remain focused, be flexible, prioritize and set realistic goals are just some of the organizational traits that lead to a successful plan and ultimately, execution.
The essence of strategy is about advancing your product, services, and or selection the company has to offer. Winning is not just about creating unique offerings. It is also understanding how to create a competitive advantage. Knowing your customer and competition are central themes here and will help to mitigate risks.
Your Go-to-Market and Sales tactics are defined here. Analyzing and defining the market, branding, place, and channels all come into play. Alignment with current capabilities is key. It is imperative to understand your market and potential disruptors.
Competencies, capabilities, and investments are required to produce your offerings and get them to market. Delivering on strategic intent requires expertise and experience to innovate, produce and support your offerings. Comparative advantage may be needed to win, necessitating operations excellence tactics be deployed. Partnerships, supplier arrangements, management systems, and technology must be in place and support strategic objectives. Funding for the infrastructure, technology, and people are needed. Workable tactics to generate working capital to fund the strategy are critical to your success.
From planning to delivery and support, an enabling business structure, organization, and leadership makes strategic execution happen. While often overlooked, successful outcomes rely on these three aspects. Leadership brings priority, focus, and resources, ensuring organizational commitment, momentum, and transparency occur. The organization is the engine that realizes strategic outcomes, providing the people, skills, and experience to create, deliver and support. Lastly, centralized and or decentralized structural alignment needs to support strategic intent.
No matter how good the ideas, intended outcomes do not just happen. Success requires organizational commitment, sponsorship, a plan, the capability, and monitoring to launch and execute well. If the offerings, structure, organization, investments, and go-to-market aspects of the plan miss the mark, your strategy and business will be left wanting or worse.
Taken in entirety, a strategy must consider all aspects of your business to achieve a desirable outcome. A lot can happen to steer you off course. The Blueprint for Strategy helps map out the journey, keeping you on the road to deliver the strategic outcomes your business and customers will benefit from today and tomorrow.
This is the first in a series of articles outlining the Blueprint for Strategy. Look for future editions as we delve into each of the six blueprint topics in more detail.