What is strategy?
Strategy is a high-level plan to achieve one or more goals, under conditions of uncertainty.
In the sense of the "Art of the General", this includes several Tactical subsets of skills.
Why do we need a strategy?
First and foremost, it creates clarity of cause. Sun Tzu says:
” Strategy without Tactics is the slowest route to Victory;
Tactics without Strategy is the noise before defeat”.
Strategy is a “Thinking Exercise” in which we define our “Northern Star”, our aim.
This should act as a Magnetic force field, to which the company steers its activity.
This force field -
clears the way from diversions;
anchors us when we face challenges (by transferring them to manageable events on our implementation path)
keeps us from mistaking them to be "game changing" events (though seldom, this might be the case).
Secondly, it’s “the Art of the General” in the sense that each and every manager, Executive to Front line, is obliged to extract their specific strategic & tactical goals in light of the defined Strategic Goal by the executive management.
Why does strategy fail?
Today’s business world is characterised with rapid Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity, better known as VUCA. What does that mean for your business?
As it goes, the strategy - or better yet, the implementation of the strategy - needs to be such that provides the management with “indicators” along the path such as, should alternatives be considered? Are adjustments in order? or indicating a significant crossroad ahead – “Important Decision Needed” or - almost goes without saying - “We’re on the right Path”.
The need for a tight “Strategy Management” can be easily neglected with the rush of the daily tasks.
Most strategies fail at implementation, simply due to not being able to carry out the necessary actions. These are the tactical actions, which are “new” to the organisation. These actions require a “rewiring process”, which needs managerial attention.
One of the main goals of “Strategy Management” is a-prior identifying the “soft spots”, where the company should implement new processes, reporting or data analysis processes which are missing within the company decision-making process. (At each level)
Your first actions should include -
Closely map and inspect the critical Decision-making junctions, to identify the value-added action which needs to be implemented.
Develop zero tolerance to the “we always do that” approach. Detach and examine the process and then decide, if “we are doing the right thing”.
Understand: It is your responsibility as a Manger to drill down to the root cause.
Your support will be needed by providing tools or information which is lacking, or simply by making a decision.
Essential to understand - implementing a strategic plan demands efforts and energy invested in a different way than the company is used to. As the saying goes “if you want to keep getting what you’re getting, keep doing what you are doing. For different results, different actions are needed”.
Make sure you have the right people on board. People who can lead change, who are able to
own their responsibility and fulfil it; people who will keep still once challenges are arising, and they will; people who are solution seekers and not only problem finders. Once we have the right team, we have to make sure we are providing them with the right tools, knowledge and the authority to make decisions.
The key to a Successful Strategy implementation is: FOCUS & ENGAGEMENT!
The things that get done are the things which we set our most energy and efforts to; that defines where our Focus is.
Understand: Focus cannot be directed with 100% intensity at the same time at all business pillars. Our responsibility, as business leaders implementing a strategic plan, is creating this focus at all levels.
That is done by clarifying and prioritising the tactical achievements needed at each part of the chain, based on a defined timeline. It requires investing effort. A critical part of these efforts is making sure that there’s clarity of goal and clarity of priorities at all managerial levels.
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