Why bother having a strategy?
It sets out your stall, clarifies your vision (long term aim), your mission (role) and aims or objectives. The latter shows how you intend to meet your vision and the role performed – so clients, customers, competitors and you know why you are doing what you are doing and how you intend to do it. If you have staff it also gives them a clear idea of what they are aiming for, how their skills can assist and what you might expect from them.
How do you create your strategy?
How you would describe your business, and how are you going to address your clients’ needs. What is your long term overall aim? You might also want to convey what distinguishes you from the competition. If you were Paris St Germain FC, your vision might be we are the best Football club and our mission is to win our league and international glory, we aim is to have world class players to enable us to win all football tournaments to build our following and win trophies. Having spent all that money on Neymar, this is what I might expect. Clearly the Board decided how was to buy the most expensive football player ever, along with several other talented and costly purchases. It gave them free marketing with headline news. This will lead to sales of shirts and crowds at matches, with a big return on their investment.
Don’t forget there needs to be an evidence base to ensure a strategy is achievable, and believable. Build a sound evidence base, look at the major trends impacting on your clients and your business. Once you have the facts, you can look for any patterns or future trends. I am not asking you to consult Mystic Meg, but trends can often be predicted by looking at what has happened in similar conditions in the past, or lessons learned from previous attempts.
Use your trusted advisors, and make sure you are not over reliant on a few people, at the exclusion of your board, wider team or in the case of the British PM your Cabinet – not just her special advisors! We know how the lack of a well thought through strategy (decided over a weekend, without consulting her Cabinet colleagues), worked out when Mrs May called a snap general election. Was the PM over reliant on her impression of the Brexit trend? She used her personality as the focus in fighting the election, not the team and how they were going to tackle Brexit. She may have under-estimated the competition’s strategy, and mostly lived by a strap line about her personality as a strong and stable leader. This didn’t resonant well, with the public or her Cabinet. Her advisors were eventually removed for their poor advice, and she had to make a deal with another political party to ensure her party could deliver Brexit. Lessons learnt for everyone, remember to consult your top team, consider your reasoning, the clarity of your message, its resonance with your clients, and does your strategy have detail or evidence, should a client/customer look for it?
Why it’s important to look at your competition
What are they are selling to your target market and prospective organisations/clients. Study competitors’ information, such as their publications, promotional brochures and web sites. It helps you pitch where you sit in the market and to find your niche.
Can you deliver?
Check you have the resources in place to help you deliver. Do you have the right mix of skills, finances, marketing, people and commitment to achieve your goals? Are you believable? Integrity and resonance are important, and ensure your workforce owns same the aims.
Bringing your team with you, makes a difference to final delivery; the experience of your clients/customer, and how well you achieve your goals – whether they are running the country and helping us change direction, seeking glory on the football pitch, or meeting your aims and ambitions. These apply equally to the private, public and charity sector, as success is key. Your top team can provide advice, insight and challenge, and if brought on board will help you articulate your strategy to your workforce and clients.
You may then need an independent consultant to review your strategy and ensure it is embedded and understood by your workforce. I recently worked with a leadership team to look at their key strategy, and involved a wider group in a SWOT analysis to identify top concerns and opportunities. I then ensured they were all involved in a brainstorm, so they would own the outcomes, which also included my independent analysis of risks and mitigation.