20+ things to consider before creating business strategy
Expert tips to consider before creating strategy
We’ve spoken about the benefits of using tools for strategy execution, the mistakes that are often made when executing, and the key pillars of success, but let’s take a step back. Before executing, and before even creating a strategy, what is it you need to think about.
We asked strategy coaches and practitioners their thoughts on what businesses should be considering before creating or implementing a strategy.
Tl;dr - a selection of the key points made below include:
- Ask yourself the questions - Why do we exist? What do we sell? Where do we play? Who will we compete with?
- Develop a shared view of your market landscape within your company
- Identify both the resulting disruptions and opportunities as they impact your particular organisation
- Understand your capacity for the work and your potential weaknesses
- Understand your current situation and make a diagnosis of the key challenges and opportunities through discovery work
- Use frameworks like NOISE analysis to understand current standing
- If you have no plan of action—then you don’t have strategy
- Without understanding your core value, you cannot be competitive in your chosen market
- Understand the strengths and weaknesses of competitors, can you fin a gap they do not fill?
Nikhil Maini, Business Strategy Coach
Firstly, remember the adage - One business, one strategy. This means creating a hypothesis or a theory that should be the culmination of a series of interrelated and interdependent factors/choices. A strategy is not a plan, so it need not be elaborate. Ideally it should fit into a single page. It should be executable (ideally using OKRs) and it should be clear.
Your strategy should answer key questions like why do we exist? What do we sell? Where do we play? Who will we compete with? and, What does it take to win?
Finally, this one pager must be anchored in your organisational purpose (why you exist) and/or your vision-mission. It must also be a reflection of your organisation’s values (what you hold dear).
Daniel Montgomery, Strategic Agility Coach & Author
First you need to develop a shared view of your market landscape. This is a set of assumptions that may - or may not! - be true. It's important to challenge "common wisdom" about what's happening in your reality.
Are there multiple future scenarios you can identify? (Remember, great minds can accommodate multiple paradoxical truths at once!)
Second, identify both the resulting disruptions and opportunities as they impact your particular organisation. Third, what are your capacities, and weaknesses, to address both the disruptions and opportunities? Take the time to think before you make choices about the future.
Kenneth Paul Lewis, Strategy & Leadership Consultant
Purpose, Identity and Ambition drive strategy! Here are 3 things that need to be done:
1. Purpose is discovered, not just word-smithed. It requires a clear understanding of what larger than life impact the organisation will create. Something that they will get close to but never achieve. As a coach and consultant to Unilever, I admire their purpose, which is 'To make sustainable living a commonplace'. This statement helps the company outline their long term commitment. This then decides hence how their innovations, tactics, employees and stakeholders will work towards achieving. It's their compass!
2. Identity: In addition to purpose an organisation has to recognise what will make them different & relevant. It's not just about their product, but also about their brand, their competitiveness, their work culture and more importantly how the customer will experience and remember them.
3. Ambition is nothing but an organisation's collective hunger which is largely inspired by their leader's vision. Are they ok with incremental success that satisfies stakeholders? Or are they ok to rock the boat and shoot for the stars? Do they have the appetite and the wherewithal to support their future aspirations?
Richard Russell, Leadership Coach
Understand your current situation and make a diagnosis of the key challenges and opportunities. This requires these things:
1. Doing a lot of customer discovery; being familiar with your own KPIs and what drives them (review your KPIs weekly!); and analysing the market situation (use Porter's 5 Forces). At the same time as doing this, you can't pause execution.
2. Build your execution muscle even if you don't have a clear strategy, so as your strategy is clarified, you are ready to deliver.
Sienam Lulla, Strategy Coach
Define long term vision, short term mission, and complete NOISE analysis (Needs, Opportunities, Improvements, Strengths and Exceptions).
Knowing why you exist, where you have to go, and what needs to be done to get there creates a tangible strategy.
Barry O’Reilly, Business Advisor, Keynote Speaker, and Author
A Strategy is a set of different ideas that includes a plan to achieve your objectives.
Often an objective or a vision can be a perfectly fine starting point for a strategy. However, the strategy itself must include precise information on how these objectives will actually be achieved. If you have no plan of action—then you don’t have strategy.
Damien O'Connor, Head of Delivery & Strategy
Answer these questions:
1. What business are we in? or who are our customers and what problem solution or value do we offer them?
2. What is our competitive advantage over our competitors?
3. What external trends or changes should we respond to or leverage in our strategy?
Craig Wood, Strategy Consultant
1. Research deeply, thinking of the business, the brand as it is and was, the category, competitors, cultural trends and your audience
2. Clarify the ambition and the objectives based on your research (some call this diagnosis)
3. Identify the most potent insights that your strategy can build on
Cansel Sorgens, Strategy Coach
Besides being clear about your market, your customer and your value proposition, to create a strategy it needs Situational Awareness which you can you use to your competitive advantage.
For this, start mapping:
Market insights: What do customers want/need/solve, what are the opportunities in given circumstances, what tendencies do you observe in the market.
Competences: What can you already do well, could do better, should improve, should automate, should eliminate
Capabilities: what is needed, what dependencies are there, what are the enablers?
Once you map these insights the conversation around choosing what to focus on strategically becomes a lot more effective.
Chris Combe, CDIO Group Functions Agile, UBS
Understand vision and purpose of the company. Map the organisations markets and customers to products. Conduct a market competitive analysis.
Areen Shahbari, Business Strategy Instructor, Harvard University
After you conduct your external and internal analysis, you need to develop your vision, mission and core value, and then your strategy.
Ricardo Rodriguez, Strategy Director
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