Strategy: The Only Three Things You Really Need to Know
There are a dizzying number of factors to consider when developing a strategy. But there are really only three things that you really need to know.
The push for a strong strategy started to take the forefront during the 1980s when chief executives made it their domain. This gave credence to the time and resources required to produce successful strategies that in earlier times were often left to happenstance and anecdotal methods. This also spawned the roles of strategic planning, strategists, and a host of consulting firms offering similarly styled services.
Although all of this represented progress, strategy work remains a somewhat fuzzy discipline for many corporate directors and consultants alike due to the scope and complexity of formulating a successful strategy. What can make this a much simpler and focused activity is to break it down into three simple steps.
1. Analyze—This is often the most difficult part of developing a strategy because it requires objectivity without bias or prejudice that is tough for a corporate executive to summon who is typically embroiled in current think. One quick solution is to rely on not only the ‘in-house’ view but go outside to corporate clients, vendors, associations, media outlets, etc. that will all be able to provide a different perspective. Asking and listening to responses are extremely important. Ten percent of the time should be spent asking questions and 90 percent for listening! Plus, engaging these groups has the added benefit of building stronger links outside the four walls of the organization.
2. Solution—The overall approach that is developed needs to be concrete, not fuzzy, and definitely easy to explain. This is not a set of rules or goals, or tactics that often pass as solutions. Rather, a solution is a well-defined path to greatness that pulls together the incredible abilities of the corporation’s strengths and focuses them on a simple, significant customer benefit. That’s because customers buy products and services based upon what they will receive!
3. Implementation—Reaching into the corporation and putting together the exact right mix of people and resources to fuel the solution is critical. Can you outspend a winning solution? No! The power of a well-orchestrated product offering complete with support from customer inquiry to product information customized to a customer’s specific needs to product support, and everything in-between, enhances the solution. Apple Inc. is the perfect example of a company that has built a strategy of always being there to assist you in their stores, online chats, product support, etc.
A great strategy is something that needs to be worked on every single day by many different individuals in a corporation. It is no longer the domain of corner offices. It’s definitely worth the effort since corporations that are driven by a strong strategy usually outperform those without one.
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Tom Marin is the Founder and President of MarketCues, Inc., a national consulting firm. He has worked for some of the world’s largest corporations and middle-market firms. Tom’s focus is to help CEOs drive their strategy shifts and strategic growth programs. Follow MarketCues on Twitter. Tom also welcomes emails new LinkedIn connections or calls to (919) 908-6145.