Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Simple Strategies

Developing a strategy is only the first challenge for actually having one working for your company. These strategies are typically born from the top executives in the company and trickle down through the ranks to the rest of the organization. This means that a majority of the company will be receiving a second-hand description of the strategy. In order to advance with it from there, they then have to actually implement it to work with your developers, salespeople, and other employees.
For these reasons, it is very beneficial to keep your strategy relatively simple. Unless this strategy is somehow executed entirely by its architects, it will need to be communicated and relayed throughout the entire company in order to be carried out. If it is too complicated, there is a good a chance that it will be misinterpreted by employees or taken in the wrong direction. By making everything easy enough to understand for everyone, you greatly increase your chances of actually carrying it through correctly.
In “Can You Say What Your Strategy Is?”, the authors point out that in many cases, not even the management team in charge of the strategy can accurately describe the strategy in terms consistent with their peers. This is indicative of a poorly laid-out plan. Before you can expect the rest of the company to understand it, everyone in charge must have a crystal clear interpretation of how it works. Simplicity helps this by narrowing the scope of actions that can be taken.
Narrowing the scope as a whole makes it far easier to implement by reducing “analysis paralysis”. This is a condition where you become overwhelmed by the choices available to you and end up executing none of them properly. This is discussed in “Simple Rules For A Complex World” as they talk about the paralysis of providing yourself with too many possible options. If you leave the strategy too open for interpretation, this can easily happen. The strategy should be simple and clear enough that you can easily identify your path forward towards your overall goals.
This type of thinking is similar to that seen in software development. When building a software system, you will typically begin by creating a software architecture. This describes at a high level all of the components and interactions that need to happen, acting as a framework to follow for the actual developers. This is analogous to a company's strategy. Both act as a guiding light for the employees and lay the path forward. However, if this architecture isn't clear, it can actually cause more harm than good. It will confuse developers and they could end up developing slower than normal or building the wrong thing altogether.
Keeping the strategy simple and clear can help avoid these potential problems by creating a straightforward path forward, clearing the way from self-imposed obstacles.

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