Strategy 101

Many times when I am mentoring or presenting at workshops, I’m often asked questions about Strategy- What is it? How do I ensure I have the right one? Is this tactical or strategic? There are many books and experts in the field on this topic but in my many years of leadership I’ve found “Strategy” to be quite basic.

Strategy 101 is the conducting of critical thinking BEFORE you act…just that simple. Let’s discuss the example of my 11 year old son. Every time the ice cream truck enters our housing development it passes my house goes around the corner and ends up on the side corner of my house. My son chases that ice cream truck religiously down the block once it passes my house. Now, if my son stopped and studied the ice cream truck patterns for one week, he would know the truck’s exact destination. Thereby creating a Strategy to go where the truck will stop once he hears the bells, versus the chase.

Business is the same whether you are chasing- increased sales, product/service expansion, organizational transformation, or enhancing process improvements.

There are four key requirements of Strategy 101:

1) Secluded time away from daily activities as a team or individually for a concentrated periods of time (hours/days)
2) Examining and analyzing information gathered around the subject, task, or challenge
3) Formulating a plan of action or developing an approach based on the items from above
4) Consistently reviewing or refreshing step #3 based on changing business conditions, e.g. monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually.

Sounds so easy right? So why do so many leaders, teams, and/or organizations have flawed strategies or none at all. Most people don’t complete #1. They are busy working or completing tasks and NEVER taking the time to see how these actions impact the business or their overall goals. Sometimes they don’t try to understand how do these activities connect and link to the big picture. Even worse, many times they skip step #4 by continuing a strategy that is ineffective or outdated because it was not re-visited for relevancy.

People and businesses pay enormous sums of money to Consultants or Educational Institutions to learn the process of Strategic Planning. You’ve heard of them- SWOT analysis, Deep Dive, Periodization, and Value Chains. Save your money!

Next time you start out accomplishing that goal/objective or beginning that task…STOP…critically THINK….Strategy 101.