Aside

What is this Strategy thing?

Some of you already know that I’ve been working on some book ideas. One book I’ve wanted to write for some time is on strategy — not the 80,000 foot level of theory that a Porter or Hamel does well. But the thing that a GM or VP who is living it could actually use when their in the middle of the mess/ opportunity / business situation.
And of course there’s only a gazillion books on strategy. So what could be said that hasn’t already been said? I hope I (or a member of my team) really figures that one out otherwise, no book.
But to me…
Strategy is about the combination of ideas + selection criteria (what’ll work for that organization and time) + people’s resolve to move forward.

Thus the strategy process has to enable all 3 parts.

Ideas.
Strategy is not about choosing amongst known items; it is figuring out new options, figuring out what really matters and then designing a new future. Of course that has to be analytic, but it also has to be grounded in the stories and lore of what has already been tried, what has failed… Not just for that company but for the industry. What is that saying: History repeats itself and those that think they are in a brand new situation are fooling themselves…the same is true for strategy. Every strategy has in one way shape or form been done. The key is to figure out what could be done in this situation and how to avoid / change the factors of failure.

Selection.
What most people miss is that after all the ideas are gathered and brainstormed, there needs to be whittling process. It’s not about saying one is bad or one is good but about figuring out what in this context / time / company / leadership / whatever makes sense for this company. Because all the “right” strategies in the world could be applied to any business but what makes it right for them is really about leveraging their core strengths today. So it’s about discernment certainly to figure out what is a company’s strength today. And what are they clearly not able to do. And then to look at that clearly, without bias to think about what makes sense. I suppose in some way it’s the role of a parent to a child or a teacher to a student. The parent or teacher sees things the child or student doesn’t. Not because the child is stupid or the student ignorant, but both are learning and are too close to the situation themselves to have some perspective of what true gifts / strengths / abilities they should place their leverage.

People stuff.
When teams and executives bring us in, what they need is the answers, fast. Typically they are not bringing us in cause they have it all together. It’s cause they need something, something to win. And that is never a comfortable space. We know that when you invites us to the table, you need us to contribute and become committed to your success. We respect what you’ve done, and then we hope to bring something to the table that brings you to another level of results. We are truthful, passionate and professional. We certainly maintain confidentiality. Give you a working solution, not just more data or many options. We certainly don’t disrespect the competition. We always respect people. Respect is key; We think that every one has their gifts and not everyone has every gift. We believe in the power of unbelievably talented people creating something amazing together. We believe in people. Sometimes I use the word faith in this situation. I believe in the fundamental goodness of people because I am faithful. Nobody out there is failing because they’re stupid; they just don’t have the same facts, abilities, perspectives as what they might need. We help them to at least know what we can offer, and then we have some faith that the right things happen next.

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