Strategy and Change

I love this definition of strategy from the late, great author Terry Pratchett and it’s tempting to think it could be left at that. But even though a nice orderly ‘to do’ list might be appealing, organizational or even personal strategy has to be a bit more than that.

Maybe it’s best to start with a few things that are sometime labelled as strategy but aren’t. Meaningful strategy isn’t

  • Something you copied from a competitor or an organisation like your own and cut and pasted into your own house style
  • An operational procedure or process
  • An annual plan (though it ought to support that)
  • A vague list of aspirations
  • Boring and uninspiring

At the heart of good strategy are three things. The first is real clarity over what you’re about and where you’re heading. Which is often much harder to define than you might think. When, for example, was the last time you gave yourself or members of your team permission to go off for three, four or five hours and freeform what you believe in, where you’ve come from as people and where you want to get to next? Most people and teams feel as though they are far too busy to engage in what feels a bit like self-indulgence but in truth you have to create that space for reflection if you’re going to see beyond the noise of day-to-day life.

The second is clarity of purpose even though the implementation of your strategy might be horribly complex. Everyone is familiar with the oft quoted example of the NASA employee who, pushing a broom, said that what he was doing was putting a man on the moon. Great strategy starts with a compelling, inspiring idea that every member of an organization can visualize and get behind. It’s reinforced by simple messages, repeated often.

The last element is grounded, honest realism. You have to spend the time understanding not just your own organization and the competition you face but also the external environment in which you operate, which includes the known and emerging needs of your customers. In that respect there is no substitute for the hard graft of researching and understanding your own context. Without triangulated facts you’re almost certain to build your strategy on very weak foundations.

If you’re curious to know more and if you feel you want to bring a clearer focus for your future or the future of your organization give us a call. There’s no cost for an initial discussion and we can quickly identify whether Mojo can help you achieve your aims.

Free stuff: here is a link to Mojo director Mike Ward’s ‘eight strategy steps’ that you might find helpful.