Top 10 Strategy Secrets

  • lock
    Behind this lock... the secret to a great strategy.

Creating a great strategy isn’t rocket science, but it has its secrets….

  • Strategy is never about technology, mission statements or org charts: it’s about people and culture. Peter Drucker said “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” It’s true: an organization’s culture determines its success more than any strategy ever will. Culture – not strategy – drives organizations and organizational change. Smart strategies recognize this, articulate it and incorporate it.
  • Strategy is the art of figuring out what to do differently. A strategy that doesn’t articulate what to change is just a plan in disguise.
  • No champion, no change. Change is difficult, and no one changes what they do without a compelling reason. “Compelling reason” does not mean “eloquently-worded strategy.” It means someone with a lot of power and influence pushing you to change.
  • “What’s in it for me?” Nobody has to go along with your strategy, even if you’ve got a champion. Clever people find all kinds of ways to avoid doing things they don’t want to do. If your strategy doesn’t make it clear why it’s going to benefit them in a tangible way, good luck getting their buy-in.
  • Competitive scans are overrated. Most of what your competitors are doing isn’t portable. Success and failure are a function of an organization’s context. If you want to copy an organization’s success, copy the organization, not what they do.
  • “What gets measured gets managed.” If your organization isn’t achieving its goals, it’s probably because those goals aren’t a real priority. People prioritize the things that are important to them, and important things get reported on, which means they have to be measured. Thus, what you measure is what really matters to your organization.
  • Educate, educate, educate. Be prepared to sell your strategy to everyone from the administrative assistants to the VPs. It’s not enough to produce the world’s most eloquent strategy document: you have to educate people about what it’s going to change, why that’s important, and what it will do for them.
  • Tell a good story. Charts and graphs and bullet points are great, but nobody remembers them. Focus on telling a compelling story and everyone will remember.
  • You can be a strategist or you can be a doer: you can’t be both. Doers get delegated to. Strategists set the agenda. Trying to be both creates a conflict of interest that results in neither job being done successfully.
  • A strategy is never done. As soon as it’s articulated, the underlying conditions have changed. Smart strategies acknowledge this and incorporate a mechanism for refreshing themselves.

Bonus super-secret point #11

  • Do less.
    “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery. A good strategy recognizes not just the things you should be doing, but all the things you should stop doing.

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