• Sandra Norval

Who needs strategy anyway?

Updated: May 23, 2019

Often misunderstood as a process for large organisations, strategy tends to get overlooked by small to medium businesses. For some it’s synonymous with an action plan, and when implemented poorly they can be ditched because they were doomed to fail from the start.

A well executioned strategy, however, can mean the difference between long term success and short term failure. There’s a lot of material available on how to create a strategy, how to engage people with it and of course, against the idea in the first place! But what is right for you?

Well, that depends.

The challenge is that one type of strategy does not fit all, nor does one methodology for creating and implementing it. Part of the development process needs to consider your culture, whether an intentional one or one that has just evolved. Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’ and to a great extent that can be true but what he’s really saying is this. You can create all the strategy documents you want but if they don’t work with your organisation they are simply dust gatherers. What you really need is a living, breathing, agile method which flexes as your organisation changes. And here’s the rub. Change now happens at a sobering pace.

In a time of transition, with technology advancement and climate change being some of the strongest influences, it is imperative that you build in ways to adapt, ways to build resilience into your team and processes and effective ways to innovate.

There are many angles an organisation can take in setting a strategic direction, green businesses may focus on elimination of carbon emissions for example, or a social business may prioritise development of minority groups in a key area with strong training and development processes. The key is to work out what your direction is and design everything else from there.

Some people favour a focus on purpose, Simon Sinek talks about finding your ‘why’, but without understanding how your why serves the why of your customers it won’t help you. In other words you could decide you’re building a business to help restore bee populations but if your key customers are in mass agriculture and using pesticides extensively you are facing an uphill struggle.

And that is the key point.

If you create an action plan that talks about all the things you want to do from your perspective, from planting bee-friendly plants to showing up at farmers markets, you are not thinking strategically. You would need to be identifying where your true customers will be, how you can talk to them and how you can break down the barriers to adopting your product or services. You need to show them how you serve their needs, or how your why serves their why.

That is just the beginning. From there you need to consider how your brand ‘speaks’ to your customer, how your team will demonstrate your purpose, how you will develop your team to grow what is possible for you and adapt to everything you learn from those processes. Add in your routes to delivering your products and service, external influences which might add complications and you are starting to elevate your thinking substantially.

In our recent blog posts we talked about how the current #ClimateEmergency is a major #ClimateOpportunity and how you can innovate and use value proposition methods to evaluate what’s possible.

These things are worth the time investment if you plan to grow your business, whatever size you currently are. But, a word of caution. Go into the process with an open mind, because the right strategic direction for your organisation may not be the one that currently seems obvious to you and like the cautionary tale of Kodak, your decision could be momentous for your organisation.

Who is on your side, challenging your thinking? Having an independent advisor to raise difficult questions and open up discussions is often a game changer. It’s not about finding an easy path, it’s about finding your next window of opportunity.

Ready for that challenge?

Take action before your competitors do, embrace the transition we’re in and be a leader in change.

For an informal discussion call 07985 610626, or email sandra.norval@bluedotaug.comtoday.

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