The hardest thing about strategy

Strategy = (10% Plotting / Planning) + (90% Actioning) / (100% adjusting as you learn along the way)

Over the past 16 years I've spent a lot of time thinking and talking about strategy.

Good strategy relies a lot on good environmental scanning, forecasting and storytelling.

For strategy people these aspects are the easy bits.

But then - the rubber hits the road after the strategy is visually crafted into a beautiful slide deck.

Strategy by itself is mute; it's worthless. It's only through the actioning of the right strategy that it becomes an asset.

Two key issues hold the successful actioning of strategy back:

Stumbling block #1: Not everything that looks like an opportunity is the right opportunity for you.

Often a strategic document can be so jam-packed with some many things that ought to be done - that it renders itself useless because the organisation becomes mentally paralysed with the sheer amount of new work they think needs to be done to achieve their strategic goals.  

Good editing and ruthless decision making are a vital part of strategy.

Rather find just one key leverage point that will have maximum impact on the future of the business than chase too many things. Don't waste time and money on trying to deliver projects that are not a good fit for your time and place.

Sometimes the best strategies are ones that outline exactly what an organisation is not going to do.

Stumbling block #2: Strategy without execution is just a waste of money.

You'll find a lot of information about how to write great strategy, but very little about how to implement that strategy in an organisation.

Implementation of strategy is actually what I focus on primarily, because organisations struggle to get it done.

Strategy folk are not always the best operational folk; the clever thinking needs to be presented to the right people who need to buy-in to the plan and then go to considerable effort to change their way of working to deliver on the strategy.

This step requires trust, great internal communication, teamwork and strong leadership.

Organisations are great at hiring inspirational speakers to talk about the future; and fancy consultants who produce very impressive looking documents created by teams of people in suits with strings of degrees from prestigious universities.

But the cost of these things, when the strategy that they come up with fails to deliver as planned, or is not properly implemented; amplifies the sting from the slap in the face you get when you waste this much money.

Strategy = (10% Plotting / Planning) + (90% Actioning) / (100% adjusting as you learn along the way)