Your strategy needs a strategy

Post date :

Dec 31, 2023

strategy definition
strategy definition
strategy definition

Every strategic plan paints an ambitious vision for your organisation, akin to John F. Kennedy's moonshot pledge to "put a man on the moon by the end of the '70s." Your CEO, in a moment of solemnity, has likely declared on stage that your organization is set to execute a remarkable market shift, promising substantial returns to shareholders in just a few years.

Yet, a closer look at the strategic plan drafted by your strategy team might surprise you. Instead of innovative strategies and clever tactics to realize these grand ambitions, you often find an extensive list of essential topics, urgent actions, and critical capabilities. The document also emphasizes the importance of delivering quality service to clients, providing a good work environment for staff, strengthening partnerships with suppliers, and more. It goes on, mentioning client engagement, IT solutions, and attention to detail. All of this seems valid and crucial. However, what exactly is strategic within this laundry list of actions and processes? Not much, typically. From my 20 years of experience in this field, most strategic plans resemble "business as usual" plans more than anything else. Few offer concrete solutions and a clear roadmap to achieve the lofty strategic direction displayed prominently on office walls, mugs, and laptop desktops.

There's nothing inherently wrong with having an operational plan – organisations need a well-defined operating model to run efficiently. But let's stop labelling it as a strategic plan because it isn't one. It's time to be honest with ourselves (and our shareholders) about those beautiful vision statements that often remain unattained. And let's cease investing time, effort, and resources into it – just continue with the status quo.

Let's debunk the myth: Many strategic plans lack true strategic depth. Often, "your strategy needs a strategy," to borrow from Martin Reeves, Claire Love, and Philipp Tillmanns in their Harvard Business Review article of the same name.

Strategy should not describe day-to-day operations, no matter how vital they are. It should articulate a profound transformation in both the desired outcomes of the organisation and the methods to achieve them. Let's avoid mixing important or urgent topics with strategic ones.

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Author: Anael Granoux