|Five questions that make strategy real|
Lots of people - most notably academics and consultants - tend to talk about strategy as if it is some kind of high-brain scientific methodology. We come from a different school of thought. That strategy is a living, breathing, totally dynamic game. Itīs fun - and fast. And itīs alive. Forget the scenario planning, yearlong studies, and 100-plus page reports that "gurus" suggest. Theyīre time consuming and expensive, and you just donīt need them. In real life, strategy is very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement like hell.
The first step of making strategy real is coming up with a big "a-ha" for your business - a smart, realistic, relatively fast way to gain sustainable competitive advantage. To do that, you need to debate, grapple with, wallow in, and dig into - and we mean dig deep into - your playing field (that is, your competitive situation) and its players. Let the following five questions guide you in that process, with meetings that are alive and continually ongoing.
WHAT DOES THE PLAYING FIELD LOOK LIKE NOW?
WHAT HAS THE COMPETITION BEEN UP TO?
WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO?
WHATīS AROUND THE CORNER?
WHATīS YOUR WINNING MOVE?
Now, after you complete this exercise, the next step is to put the right people in the right jobs to drive the big a-ha forward. The facts are, you get a lot more bang for your buck when strategy and skills fit.
From there, itīs just a matter of relentlessly seeking out the best practices to achieve your big a-ha, adapting them, and continuously improving them. Strategy is unleashed when you have a learning organization where people thirst to do everything better every day. They draw on best practices from anywhere, inside or out, and push them to ever-higher levels of effectiveness. You can have the best big a-ha in the world, but without this learning culture in place, any sustainable competitive advantage will not last.
Strategy, then, is simply finding the big a-ha and setting a broad direction, putting the right people behind it, and then executing with an unyielding emphasis on continuous improvement.
Thereīs no mystery to it!