The Five Key Elements of a Short Strategy Statement
My last article ended by defining strategy as "a beacon that specifies a goal, a time frame for achieving that goal, the context in which the the goal will be reached, and the company's unique approach that guarantees its success." Let's look at the five key elements in this definition:
1. Note that the word "goal" is singular. Strategy is designed to focus the entire organization around a single focus. Do one thing and do it exceedingly well. Sharply defined strategy cuts like a well-honed knife; a strategy with multiple goals cuts like a marshmallow.
2. Stating a time frame is vital. It provides impetus and motivation. Combined with a clearly stated goal, the time frame becomes the first of the key performance indicators that is necessary to ensure the successful implementation of strategy.
3. The context describes the specific competitive arena in which the company will operate. Be crystal clear on this. Don't just say "We're going to grow to a 10 restaurant chain by 2012″. Say "We're going to grow to a chain of 10 family-oriented, sit-down, full-service, Italian restaurants in southern Oregon by 2012″.
4. The most important part of strategy is defining what makes you different from your competitors. Why would somebody choose to eat in your Italian restaurant rather than the one next door? Is it the food? The locations? The physical design? The live Italian music? It must be unique and it must be something that your competitors can't replicate.
5. Finally, strategy is "a beacon". Once a strategy has been created it needs to be simply stated and widely distributed within your company in order to achieve its full potential. One of the best ways of doing this is to reduce your strategy to a single sentence.
Putting It Into Practice
With this in mind, here's another example of a one-sentence strategy statement:
Acme will add 35,000 net new customers by December 31, 2014 by offering premium, web-based, price comparison software to mid-sized,English-speaking North American commercial construction companies using a "high touch" sales and support approach.
Can you pick out the goal, time frame and context? How would Acme have guaranteed the uniqueness of its approach?
Short Strategy Statements Align The Company's Activities
Condensing their strategy into a single sentence means that it can now be easily communicated to everyone in their organization. This immediately provides a framework that helps align their entire staff. It saves staff time and energy by pre-empting or easily answering many of the little questions that arise each day:
- "Can I attend the European trade show to see what their market is like?"
- "Will we bundle hardware with our offering?"
- "When will our Spanish version be ready?"
- "Will we match our competitor's price?"
- "The residential construction association called. Should I do a presentation for them?"
Their strategy statement will also influence the larger decisions such as hiring, product development, sales approach, IT deployment, office development - in fact, every decision can be shaped by this one 35-word sentence.
A single sentence strategy statement is an incredibly powerful tool that helps management align the entire workforce. Can you write your firm's strategy in a single sentence?
I am grateful to David J. Collis and Michael G. Rukstad, the authors of "Can You Say What Your Strategy Is?" published on page 82 in the April 2008 edition of Harvard Business Review.
Copyright © 2010 Alex GlasseyShort Strategy Statements - Learn the 5 Key Elements of This Powerful Management Tool
Alex Glassey is a business strategy expert who leads Glassey Consulting. Glassey Consulting helps its clients with business strategy implementation by aligning their sales, operations and information technology around a clearly defined strategy.
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