It is Perhaps Easier to Observe a Strategy than it is to Create one – but it is an Illusion

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Perhaps the three biggest complaints I have heard from organisations as we start strategy creation process is that

1 – Our organisation does not have a strategy – but the competitors do

2 – We don’t have a strategy now – but we did in the past

3 – We’ve done all this before – but nothing happened

From these comments I have drawn the conclusion that it is perhaps easier to ‘observe’ a strategy in another organisation or on the past than it is to ‘create, realise and live’ it in your own organisation. Strategy takes time to implement and to permeate through the whole organisation. It arrives and is implemented in small chunks. It ebbs and flows and pops up in different areas on different days and gradually takes hold. As we look back the journey we took looks clearer and it is easier to take the next steps. In short it is often easier to see where we and others have been rather than where we are going.

When we look at supermarkets, airlines, social media and IT companies we can often see their ‘observed’ strategies very clearly. We know where they are in the market, where they want to be and how they appear to be achieving their vision through the articulation and implementation of their strategy. These ‘observed’ strategies are sometimes an illusion as they more clearly show where the organisation has come from rather than where it is going……

Strategy creation has only three elements – the As Is, the To Be, and the journey between the two

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Many times in my career I have heard complicated descriptions of what strategy is and how to form or create a strategy. In many cases the suggestion for the processes are very complicated and as a consequence the strategy is not realised.

However, like so many things in this world, the strategy creation can be described in just three parts….

1 – Where we are now, our business environment, competition and performance – The ‘As Is’

2 – Where we want to go, our business, the possible environments and future performance objectives – The ‘To Be’

3 – How we get there from today to tomorrow. The ‘Journey’ from the ‘As Is’ to the ‘To Be’

Of course there is a lot of work to do but the concept is simple. How do we get from where we are now to where we want to be? So what’s the clever part? What makes strategy difficult? I would suggest that there are three things that make strategy difficult

1 – Making the decisions on more than just a gut feeling – the analysis

2 – Getting consensus from the Leadership Team – the buy-in

3 – Articulating the strategy through the organisation in a way that is clear and concise but isn’t dumbed down to the extent that no one believes it – talking the walk