There are as many ways of developing strategies as there are strategies themselves. And ‘strategy’ means different things to different people. When we help clients formulate the right strategy for their business we cut through the jargon and talk in plain English.
A strategy is a plan. The plan has an overall objective and a defined goal. Inevitably there are a number of steps to be taken en route to achieving the objective, and we list these clearly, along with measures against each. So the structure looks like this:
What is it that we ultimately want to achieve? This is written as a statement and it is best if it is clear and tightly defined.
We should be able to apply a number of tests to the statement:
- is it breakthrough? big enough?
- is it specific to our business?
- is it possible or just a pipe dream?
I want to become the most improved golfer in my club.
When we achieve our objective, how will we know? Goals define the objective in numerical terms. Numerical objectives are binary: we either achieve them or we do not. And goals are traceable: if we fail to achieve them, we need to know why so that we can adjust our strategy.
We like our Goals to be specific, measurable, achievable and compatible with the overall vision.
I want to reduce my average score by 10 strokes per round; and get into the top 30 in the club rankings.
Steps are the actions that we take to achieve our objective. How and where will we focus our resources to achieve our objective? As we choose where to focus, we realise that an essential part of strategy is deciding what not to do.
We test each step: is it specific? differentiated? would we choose not to do it?
I want to focus on putting; play more often; get some coaching; and play with better players.
Every strategy needs at one key numerical measure. Numbers are binary: we either achieve the number or we don’t. We try to make measures as specific as possible, easily measured or recorded, and achievable. They should also be compatible with each other; with our overall objective; and our culture.
I want to reduce my average putts per hole to two; play three times each week (one round, one practice, one coaching session); I will invest in one coaching session per week; and I will play with partners whose handicaps are 10 points or better than my own.
We work with clients in a clear, logical order to formulate strategy in a language that everyone in the organisation can understand. We do this using a combination of workshops, facilitated board meetings, customer conversations and competitive analysis. And we make it a rule never to conduct business on the golf course.