Monday, June 20, 2016

What is your Company’s Strategy…Can you clearly state it?

I enjoyed reading the article “Can You Say What Your Strategy Is? (Collis and Rukstad) this week.  The authors claim that it is a dirty little secret that most executives do not know all of the elements that make up their own corporate strategy which in turn makes it very difficult to effectively execute in their positions due this lack of awareness and alignment.  Rukstad states that a good strategy is made up of three critical components to include: objective, scope, and advantage – and that executives need to internalize these components and translate them into a clear and simple statement.

Objective:  Many companies do not get this one write and confuse their strategy statement as linked to their mission or value statement.  The right approach is suggested as defining a strategic objective that can be specific, measurable, and time-bound.  My personal experience with this is found in the corporate performance objectives.  Our performance objectives should map to the strategic statements related to the SMART guidelines (Specific, Measurable,
Attainable, Realistic, and Time bound).  I have found this process to be effective as it quantifies and qualifies the objectives to ensure there is good alignment.

Scope: This component defines the boundaries that allows managers to focus time and resources on the right strategic elements.  Clarifying who the target customers are helps with this alignment but also allows experimentation within the boundaries as to not suppress creativity or overlook opportunity.  I have seen this in practice and can appreciate a more general approach or scope statement that allows flexibility to achieve objectives – and it may not be in a straight line.

Advantage: Sustainable competitive advantage carries the heaviest weight in a company’s strategic statement.  We have learned how important it is to differentiate from the competition by defining what is most distinctive about a product or service in the marketplace.  How a value proposition is presented to customer’s is very important and from my experience, it ties directly to advantage and customer satisfaction.  If a customer clearly understands this, it can set the foundation to build upon in the other strategic areas as well.

The takeaway from this article sums up the process of creating an effective strategy statement by incorporating the three components mentioned above in addition to finding the ‘sweet spot’ in the marketplace.  This ‘sweet spot’ is the central focus of the strategic statement and optimal blend of a company’s capabilities and value proposition.  All of this should be captured in a 35-word statement which serves as the elevator pitch and can be easily internalized and communicated to many internal and external stakeholders.

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