A good corporate strategy describes how a company plans to get from A to B. It’s not a Vision – that’s a separate piece of work that describes what you want to become, how you want to look and feel. And it’s not a Mission Statement – that’s what explains why the company’s in existence, what it’s all about. A good strategy acts as a company’s user manual – it describes the levers that must be pulled to move the business forward, and it’s a motivational tool that can galvanise and inspire your team. It’s an internal contract that binds them together.
A good strategy will identify your start point, take account of internal and external factors, estimate investment costs and likely returns. It has to be communicable and understandable so that the whole team can live and breathe it. It’s got to be realistic and it’s got to be dynamic, a living document, reflecting and anticipating changes in the market. Above all it must be capable of implementation – it must describe who’s going to do what by when, and to what effect. There have to be actions that follow the strategy definition; people have to do things to bring it to life, change things, make things happen.
So how do you develop a first class strategy? First, be clear on where you want to get to, what you want to be. Because if a strategy’s about getting from A to B you need to know where B is. Develop the strategy with your team – use their knowledge and skills and achieve their buy-in. Do your research – understand your market, understand your customers. Be realistic about your strengths and weaknesses, and don’t put the strategy on a pedestal – check you’ve got it right and if you haven’t, then change it. Keep it vital, current, relevant. Be prepared to take advice – sometimes an external perspective can make this a much more powerful tool. And keep it simple.
A well written strategy will be the touchstone against which all key business decisions are made. It will give a context and a rationale for everything you do as a business – it will keep you heading towards your agreed goals. A good strategy is one of the best investments any business will ever make.