Have you ever wondered what strategy leaders think about strategy? A while ago I ran a strategy director’s workshop. Our attendees were from leading companies including Alliance Boots, Carillionm BAe Systems and Dunelm. As part of our work together we identified some shared best practices – here are the Top 9.

  1. Keep It Simple, Stupid. A simple solution is easier to understand, easier to explain and easier to deliver (90% of the time); Instead of pages of analysis, ask “What are the five bullet points?”
  2. Be bold, and don’t be afraid to use explosives where necessary. Don’t be incremental – sometimes you need to make waves
  3. A good strategist is a good story-teller. Need to tell a compelling story over and over again; Requires vision, passion, clarity and great examples
  4. Acknowledge the moose on the table. Challenge assumptions and conventional wisdoms; You need to be prepared to tell it straight
  5. Definition of strategy: ‘Informed choice, timely action’. Strategy is about choices and trade-offs – these require useful data, not ungrounded opinions; Action is the essence of good strategy; the timing of action is crucial
  6. Focus. You can only be successful if you focus on a few (no more than three) key areas of business; Dabbling in too many things will drive failure.
  7. Own the growth agenda. The strategist should own the growth agenda over the next 2-5 years; Operators own the agenda over the next 12-24 months – nobody is interested beyond 5 years; Growth is essential to strategy – a rising tide floats all boats – and can hide a multitude of sins
  8. Ideas are our currency – spend freely Be a big spender in giving your ideas away; Measure your success by other people presenting back to you your ideas as their own
  9. Avoid getting caught up in the planning process. It’s not where strategy tends to get developed – it’s more about control; Operating managers simply do not like it or the people who drive it

Which of these best practices could transform your strategy and your business growth?

© Stuart Cross 2016. All rights reserved