The Strategy Journey

 

Straight Path. Courtesy Nana B Agyei

Having a clear and focused strategy for your business is critical to its success. Strategy is essentially the narrative that expresses the intended scope and direction of your business in the long term, with an aim of developing a superior business position and promoting performance excellence through a novel configuration of resources. 

Strategy defines your business' focus in terms of its passion, people, plans, priorities, deliverables, the qualities, competences, and capabilities required, resources, target markets and segments, locations, timelines, value to be created, culture, and ultimately, that which sets it apart from the competition.

The strategy journey is an exciting, deep, and engaging process that will stimulate the growth, maturity, and continuous redefinition of your organization as it presses toward its goal. Along the way, there are sure to be challenges and failures, new learning and discoveries, and the joy and rewards of success. The shaping of your strategy is achieved through a simple movement from framing a vision, collecting and analyzing data, generating key insights, to identifying the best paths on which to take your company forward. 

Vision Comes Before Strategy
Having a clear idea of where your company is going, what it would look like when it gets there, and how culture would play an integral role in its success, all help to shape strategy. The vision should be clear, compelling, easy to communicate, challenging, realistic, and above all, aligned with Kingdom principles and values.

Develop Actionable Intelligence
Crafting the right or most appropriate strategy comes from a profound study and understanding of the context in which your company exists or operates. Context is developed through the critical analysis of your organization's internal and external situations or environments. The second part of your process, defining your unique context aids too in making the required timely and effective business decisions.

This internal operating environment is typically defined by the company's policies, industrial relations climate, operations, product and service offerings, systems, management structures, leadership, capabilities, resources, values, attitudes, strengths, weaknesses, and financial position. Externally, industry specifics, competition, market performance, regionalization, regulations, the environment, influencers, economic and social drivers, rates of technological change, and current or future trends all have an impact on the organization.

Regularly assembling all of the key leaders and executives within the company to surface and evaluate the critical issues and challenges facing is invaluable during this phase. It assists in identifying the externalities which may pose a threat, determining and diagnosing what changes or improvements can be made, where are the gaps and how they can be closed, discussing options and alternatives, and ultimately agreeing upon the desired or expected benefits to be gained as a result of any new strategic initiative to be undertaken. 

Generate Key Insights
Whilst on the journey, your company would face further challenges to its growth, maturity, position, and relevance from competitors, changes in consumer behavior, globalization, and other disruptive technologies or business models. Not every competitor, emerging trend, or technology though, will alter the way you do business. There will be some that truly has the potential to significantly do so, and also in the way you perceive customers and value. 

Developing the necessary insights to recognize these potential disruptors is part of a continuous process that can be achieved through asking difficult questions about your business, who it ultimately aims to serve, scenario planning, leaning on the collective intelligence, experience, and understanding of your executive or leadership teams, conversing with experts and academics from fields or areas which may or may not be relevant to your business, and keeping an eye on competitors and any new start-ups.

Focus Brings About Real Productivity
Strategy is nothing more than a document if the required actions to make it an expressed reality are not taken. Focus your efforts therefore on successful implementation. Develop the accompanying action plans, targets, and timelines. Commit the required financial resources and effort. Assign key personnel and outline their responsibilities. Communicate planned activities, changes, and efforts across the organization. Build shared knowledge and understanding across every division or department. Inform everyone how can individually and corporately, contribute to the success of the strategy. Institute the right systems and standards for evaluating progress and incorporating feedback. 

Throughout execution, stay abreast of all progress and tracking any changes. Continually assess and evaluate the implementation process to ensure alignment with the overarching strategy. Treat appropriately and within a timely manner, any and all issues which may favorably or adversely affect your strategy. Discuss and make timely decisions on corrective or remedial actions. Keep everyone involved in the know. Finally, don't be fearful of constructive feedback and criticism along the way. 

Ensuring your business' success today in such a turbulent and dynamic business environment, requires that you invest the time needed to adequately frame and implement a long term strategy. Embrace uncertainty and build out the required skills, competences, intelligence, and ideas needed to propel your company forward.