We’re often told to think strategically, outside of the box, or as if the box weren’t there at all. But what do we mean when we talk about strategy? And how many of us actually know how to head up into the hallowed blue skies where strategy thinking takes place. Luckily, the time to panic is over. We’ve got you! Just keep calm and follow our new series of posts on developing an effective strategy.
So, what do we mean by strategy?
Put simply, strategy is a long-term plan that will help you go from where you are now to where you want to be. You can apply this principle to any aspect of your life, be that how to develop new hobbies or take your business to the next step. Once you’ve developed your plan, you need to put it into action. And then reflect on what you’ve achieved.
Is that really all there is to it?
That really is strategy in a nutshell. Of course, there are a number of stages that you have to go through to ensure that your strategy is successful. And that’s what this series of posts is about. We’ll walk you through each step, sharing our top tips for success. We draw on different theoretical approaches that we’ve found helpful, and we’ll throw in some case studies from our own experience, too. We’ll be posting a new step over the coming weeks, so in no time at all you’ll have a complete guide.
What do other experts say?
Searching for strategy returns a lot of results. The most useful approach we’ve found comes from Michael Porter, who is probably the foremost strategic thinker out there. He’s worked with – and influenced – any number of global organisations and has a wonderful way of capturing the essentials of a successful strategy. We’ve worked across sectors and have found that these elements are equally applicable whatever your business. So we’ve put these at the heart of our approach and it’s a great place to start our strategic journey.
For Porter, there are five key elements for any successful strategy:
A unique value proposition. What do you do that’s different in your sector?
A distinctive value chain. How will operate differently?
Making strategic trade-offs. Prioritise what you will invest in and decide what you will stop doing.
Fit across value chain. Choose activities that work well together.
Continuity over time. Build you strategy on what has worked before.
We use these as a starting point, returning to them over and over again during the strategy deliberations. They form a great testing ground for ideas and keep everyone on the right track.
What is your approach?
We’ve condensed our approach to a set of simple steps, captured in the image below. Each step is equally important, and each can only work if the right people are involved at the right time: people really do drive successful strategy.
We’ll be working through each one in this series. Make sure you check back in for step one: analysing the external context to understand your operating environment.
As an associate model, Lucidity Solutions Ltd and The Partnership Lab combine skills to create a service that supports all elements of strategy development and implementation, from understanding the operating context to working with stakeholders to implement your vision. Get in touch to find out more.