“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” – Winston Churchill

So after 5 blogs in the ‘Alignment series’, today we’re going to talk about crafting your strategy. Having spoken about knowing where you come from, where you currently stand and where you want to go, it’s finally time to discuss how to get there.

There are millions of books on company strategy and as many models to use. In my work, I primarily use two complementary approaches:

Core Customer Focused Growth Drivers

Bloom, in his book The Inside Advantage, argues not surprisingly that the word Customer is the most important word in the vocabulary of business. He believes that a relentless focus on knowing your core customer, identifying what differentiate you from your competitors and defining a strategy that delivers this to your customers at every interaction with the company is the key to growing your business. He calls it ‘Growth Discovery Process’ and in this process an organisation answers the following questions:

Getting your Team aligned behind your Growth Strategy
Growth Discovery Process Questions

What I like about this approach is the unwavering focus on the customer, what sets you apart from others and what strategies you can deploy to leverage that advantage for your core and new customers.

With these strategies in mind, you can now focus on creating Must Win Battles to articulate your growth strategy.

Must Win Battles

Must Win Battles are critical challenges that will make or break your business and help you mobilise people and resources to achieve those goals. They are the key thrusts your organisation must win in order for it to achieve your aspirational goals and purpose. They should:

  • Make a real difference
  • Be market focused
  • Create excitement in the organisation
  • Be specific and tangible
  • Be winnable

In my experience, almost every company is able to bring down their strategy to about 5 Must Win Battles which are often a combination of the following topics:

  • Growing current markets,
  • Entering new markets / channels
  • Launching new product / services
  • Enhancing customer service
  • Efficient operations
  • Reducing costs
  • Developing people and
  • Building organisational capabilities

Your Must Win Battle must consists of a qualitative description and a stretched objective that you would like / need to achieve over the strategy period (NB: I often focus on a three year time period – less doesn’t give you much time to achieve stretched objectives and more than 3 years is so far away it doesn’t provide the pressure to change).

Strategy into Action

Identifying your Must Win Battles is one step, but even more important is to translate these Must Win Battles in what you are going to do tomorrow, next month and for the next 12 months.

For that you follow a three step process. For each Must Win Battle articulate the following:

Step 1: 3 strategic 3-year targets

Step 2: 3 next year Key Performance Indicators

Step 3: The main action plans to achieve your next year KPI’s

Having articulated your three year Must Win Battles you can then identify what the key performance indicators are that will help you build a strong strategy in future. If you articulate this well, you should be able to get your whole strategy (from purpose to next year’s action plan) onto a one page A4 strategy paper.

This is an example of my company’s social media strategy from two years ago.

Social Media Strategy

Crafting this strategy one pager is at the heart of what I do with clients in my strategy alignment workshops. It is hard work but always very rewarding to see leadership teams come together, identify what will drive their business forward and commit themselves to the actions that will move the company forward. Next week I will talk about how, after you’ve articulated your strategy, to cascade this and engage the rest of the company for them to be as excited about your growth strategy as the leadership team.

Photo Credit: Karen Roe via Photopin cc