Is your strategy a research paper? What is the strategy in your strategic plan?

You have probably seen a large volume document labeled “strategic plan.” These documents contain a lot of analysis and little strategy. Too much detail on everything except one thing:  a clear strategy.

What is the strategy in your “Strategic plan”? Get a copy of your strategic plan document and open the page that clearly states your strategy. I bet you will have a tough time finding this page.

Strategy is about making choices of how a business will win with her customers and stakeholders against the competition.

Does your strategy clearly show the choices of the things your company will do and those it won’t do? Where it will compete and where it will not and the channels it will use and the ones it won’t?

OR your strategic plan document lists your Vision, Mission, Goals, Objectives, Analysis (SWOT, PESTLED and Michael Porters 5 forces model), and there after documents the top 4 or 6 key areas of focus? How are these interlinked? Most strategic plans are not properly linked.

The result is a document that is not a strategy per see, but a research paper. So much good analysis but no clear articulation of the business model and how to win. Even where an attempt of areas of focus is made, these are not well linked to the business’s most pressing issues.

Consider the figures 1 and 2 below:


In figure 1 above, the organization asks “what is the desired future for our business?”

Many leaders are pretty clear of the kind of future they need. And where they don’t have clear articulation of the future, they benchmark with better peers in the same country or globally. This provides a clear yardstick of the desired future. This is critical. You cannot attain that you do not clearly envisage.

Once the future is envisioned, the next step leaders take is to ask; what must we change in our business today to create the future we need? To answer this question properly, leaders undertake business diagnostic or current state assessment (CSA) to make stock of the current status, the leading practice and the gap in between. To create the required future, the gaps must be gradually addressed or closed.

In figure 2, leaders make a straight line extrapolation of the current state. They make a “work plan” or “activity plan” or “business plan” or “strategy action plan” – specifying daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly activities that respective staff will do to move the organization from its current sate to the desired future.

When the strategy is wrong or is none existent, most businesses become mediocre. The reasons being the work plan is usually wrong. You cannot have a great work plan if your strategy is poor.

You have seen a work plan with so many activities unimplemented, for reasons of lack of sufficient budget. But how could business leaders plan to do activities for which they lack resources to accomplish?

How can you plan to take your children to school only if your friend gives you a donation! That is not how it is done. Do not plan like that for your business.

To be continued……………….

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