WHAT STRATEGY REALLY MEANS AND WHY EVERY MANAGER NEEDS IT
Strategy is not secret plan known only to senior executives. It is not something developed by external consultants who pore over data and generate huge binders of "stuff" that ends up just sitting on a shelf. The essence of Strategy is about painting a clear picture of the organization's goals, and identifying what needs to change, why it needs to change and how you're going to change in order to get there.
THE 5-STEP STRATEGY FRAMEWORK
Over the years, senior leaders in a typical organization may sit through hundreds, even thousands, of strategy sessions. Most of these are packed with page after page of data and charts designed to lay out (in excruciating detail) every element of the business. The problem was that with all this focus on intellectual analysis it's easy to lose sight of some of the most fundamental questions resulting in an approach to strategy development that became an end in itself. To counteract this tendency and get to what really matters this section introduces Jack’s 5-Step Strategy Framework – a powerful model that takes the mystery and complexity out of the strategy development process.
YOUR PLAYING FIELD
How large or small is your market? What buyers are part of it? What products are sold in it? These may sound like simple enough questions, but the answers can vary widely depending on how you define the limits. This section will help you to analyze the scope of your marketplace and will focus on three primary areas: the characteristics of the environment, the most important customers in that market and your competition.
COMPETITIVE DYNAMICS: WHAT ARE THE OTHER GUYS DOING?
While it’s become cliché to talk about how quickly the world is changing and how technology is accelerating the pace of everything, the fact is that the most effective analysis of the competitive landscape is one that is focused on recent developments. The key question in this section is, “What have your competitors done to change the playing field in the last year?” Jack focuses on getting the right questions out on the table and on getting the right team in place to help you ask (and answer) those questions.
TURN THE MIRROR AROUND
Just as you rigorously analyze your competitors, it is critical that you put yourself in their shoes and look at your business from the same perspective that others see you. How would they evaluate your talent at every level of the organization? How would they assess your R&D investment? Jack often states, “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” This is why taking a close look at how your organization is performing is so important.
LOOKING AROUND THE NEXT CORNER
The history books and newspapers are filled with stories of organizations and individuals who fell from positions of great success not because they did something wrong or made a singular catastrophic mistake, but because they got lazy! They became complacent and thought that things would continue as-is indefinitely. Jack asks us to consider several key questions, including: What scares you most about the year ahead? What new products/services/channels could your competitors launch that could change the playing field? And, last, but certainly not least…”What would happen if you could “Blow up” your organization and reinvent everything you do?”
CHOOSING YOUR PLAN OF ACTION
Developing and executing on a strategy isn’t about waiting until you have every possible bit of information on the market and the competitive landscape. As Jack often says, it’s more about, “Picking a general direction and executing like hell.” In this section, we explore Step 5 of Jack’s 5-Slide Strategy model, in order to take everything we have learned and decide what we are going to do with it and how we are going to do it. It’s time to select your plan of action.
DEFINING YOUR GROWTH STRATEGY
Jack is adamant that growth is critical to an organization. Very few companies have been able to sustain a healthy steady-state business for long periods of time. That growth is the oxygen of the business.” In fact, Jack goes so far as to say that if you’re the leader of that business, it has to be first and foremost in your thinking. This section will help you determine which growth strategies are best for your organization and prepare to execute them.
YOUR NEXT BIG MOVE: IMPLEMENTING YOUR WINNING STRATEGY
Do you have a system in your organization that ties the execution back to the strategy? Do you have check-in mechanisms that constantly assesses every action against the strategy? New initiatives frequently run the risk of having to compete with existing products and strategies, particularly if those strategies are working “well enough” in some people’s minds for right now. But it’s your job as a leader to look into the future and to make the future very real and immediate right now.great questions and know that it's their job to challenge assumptions and always push for more.