If you've stayed with us throughout this series of blog posts, you'll now have all the tools you need to develop effective strategy. To help you on your way, this final post shares our top tips - gathered from our experiences of working with clients over the past 5 years - for managing the process.
Top tip 1: Time
Effective strategy takes time. You need time to understand the context, identify challenges and opportunities, and share that understanding with colleagues. You need time to discuss options and ambitions, and reach agreement on priorities. And you need time to develop actionable implementation plans. Most of all, you need time to talk to people (see top tip 5, below). So, when you're planning your next strategy development, make sure your lead-in time is enough.
Top tip 2: Expectations
Having a good strategy doesn't fix everything. If you have an ineffective culture, or cumbersome business processes, then your strategy isn't necessarily going to be the (only) answer. Strategies set an overall framework for direction. You'll need specific objectives within them to address the things that need to change.
Top tip 3: Widen your horizons before narrowing them
Effective strategies are all about prioritisation. But before you narrow down to a small set of objectives, think as broadly and openly as you can about potential challenges and opportunities. The best strategies come out of this wide horizon scanning, so be creative and keep an open mind.
Top tip 4: Think beyond the timeline of your strategic plan
Strategies tend to be for a set period - commonly building a framework for the next three or five years. Effective strategies are those that look beyond that, to 10, 20 or even 50 years into the future. Why? Because this extended timeframe lets you to see what changes are likely - or possible - and enables you to start planning for them now.
Top tip 5: Talk to people
If you don't take anything else away, remember this. Strategies will only be effective if you talk to people. Talking to your staff, clients, and other stakeholders gives them a sense of ownership and lets you know what they think. Without this, they'll struggle to be invested in your strategy, meaning implementation is likely to be tricky, at the least. So get out there and have the difficult conversations.
We're not saying this is an exact formula to effective strategy, but by following these steps, you should be heading in the right direction. And if you need further advice or guidance, just get in touch. We'd be delighted to hear from you.
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