The way you do the things you do

Out of all the things we could do at any given time, which of them should we do?

It’s a difficult question, and one that leaders face on a regular basis. There’s a long list of things they can do, want to do, plan to do, have been told do to, or are smack in the middle of doing. But without strategy it’s more difficult to be sure why they might do one over the other, more difficult to articulate clearly and convincingly why they did this thing and not that.

Strategy done right:

  • Creates the conditions required to effect a tight integration between planning and execution
  • Allows you to take a laundry list of goals, aims, and aspirations and prioritize them so that you know which of them should take precedence when tough decisions need to be made
  • Aligns higher order activities like setting priorities and guiding principles with more tactically focused ones like building capabilities and executing against them

I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with 50+ organizations over the last few years as a strategic consultant. It’s given me the chance to watch first-hand how organizations and their leaders struggle to create strategies and execute effectively against them…and to partner with many of them in doing so.

I think strategy often gets a bad rap as a means of procrastinating, a form of analysis-paralysis, or, at the very least, a non-value-adding exercise: We don’t have time for strategy—we need to get something done.

But I would argue that getting the wrong thing done is worse than doing nothing at all. And without strategic planning, you have a lower probability not only of doing the right thing, but of doing it well.

In that spirit, I want to kick off a series of posts focused on corporate strategy: part theory, part practice, I plan to dig in to the work I’ve been doing over the last couple of years and mine it for the insights I find the most valuable—and hopefully folks out there will find them not only valuable, but good conversation starters for sharing their own thoughts and experiences.

As I get to work planning the next post, jump in now and give us your suggestions for posts, or even your thoughts, insights, etc. about strategy…it would be a great way to kick-start the conversation.

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2 Responses

  1. Great topic, Joe. I look forward to learning what you’ve learned over the past couple of years. I’d like to suggest that strategy must go hand-in-hand with acceptable risk. My thought is that knowing the acceptable risk (i.e. failure) helps to define a strategy that will work for your org. There’s never a perfect org — finding the sweet-spot and implementing a strategy there is what it’s all about!

  2. Thanks, Adrian! I agree with you about the importance of understanding risk–not only what they are, but which the org considers acceptable.

    And you’re quite right that there’s no such thing as a perfect org, as we both know from spending some time together trying (sometimes successfully, sometimes not) to find that elusive sweet spot!

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