Sometimes we make strategy much more complicated than it really is. This is because we fail to take a holistic view of the strategy in consulting and organizations and make the necessary decisions at the right time. Actually, this is a business tragedy, since the strategy is geared precisely to this: make decisions, be focused and win.
The strategy must facilitate decisions: to choose what to do and what not to do, aligning the whole organization on winning.
Many companies define their strategy by focusing on some isolated tool only: SWOT analysis, competition analysis, financial modeling, etc. While other companies confuse strategy with only visionary, conceptual exercises, or with simply illustrating their vision for the future.
The point is that the strategy of a company has to incorporate all these elements. At each level, it must enable us to respond to the appropriate questions in order to make the right decisions. And that makes strategy incredibly simple, basically because it makes it tangible, relevant, effective and winning. And easy to pass to the Agile talent.
Thus, of the approaches I have developed in different organizations, I kept the one I learned with A. G. Lafley (former CEO of P&G) some years ago. In this approach, we developed the strategy through a set of 5 interrelated questions.
DOES YOUR COMPANY ALREADY HAVE A STRATEGY FOR WINNING? DISCOVER IT WITH THE TOYOTA WAY.
Questions we must ask ourselves
And here they are, these questions, arranged in a logical and iterative way from the first to the last:
- what does winning mean to us? What are our aspirations for our organization and the specific objectives against which we want to measure our progress towards those aspirations?
- Where are we going to play to win? Where are we not going to play?
- How are we going to win where we have decided to play? How are we going to win against our competitors?
- What capabilities and values are necessary to build and maintain the way we have chosen to win?
- What management systems and leadership behaviors do we need to build and maintain the capabilities and values that we have defined as essential for winning?
But watch out, it does not work at all to respond to one of the elements of the strategy by forgetting about the others. Nor is it useful to focus on one part and respond “later” to the rest. For a strategy to be successful and sustainable, it must answer all five of these questions from the beginning, consistently with each other, and reinforce each other.
This may be a frequently asked question;
How to start the strategy?
That is the answer:
“We get started by involving and iterating”.
It does not work any other way. We involve everyone who knows about our business, products, markets, and organization. Also, we will involve our clients and consumers in the questions that are necessary. Then, we will develop a first aligned vision of our aspirations and objectives, and quickly get down to addressing where and how we will play to win, defining those capabilities that will be critical, and comparing them to those that make our organization strong. This is, the Agile talent.
Following this line of questions, we will be able to get back to the aspirations and objectives to review and align them consistently. With this, we reconsider both the where and the how and ensure that we can develop the capabilities that will make us win. The management systems should allow us to implement and measure the development of capabilities and our progress towards our aspiration to win. Leadership values and behaviors will be decisive for the sustainability of the defined or consulting strategy.
Even though iterating and integrating all elements in a holistic way may seem challenging to us, it is this process that will make the strategy much simpler and more effective. Simple, because it will avoid confusion and misalignment , responding to the questions of our organization. Effective because it will focus energy, Agile talent and execution on winning.
Finally, this is my question for you:
Is your organization focusing energy, talent and execution on winning?
What is your answer?