“What is strategy?” This probably seems like such an easy question to answer, we hear the words “strategy” and “strategic” bandied around like confetti. Yet, it is probably the most difficult thing you will ever do as far as improving, protecting, or even growing your enterprise.
People often decide that they need to work on their business strategy before really understanding what strategy is. And doing something that is not understood leads to disappointments when:
- The strategy is not developed in the way that they were expecting;
- Is not implemented successfully; or
- Does not work in the way they thought.
My personal definition of strategy is:
“Strategy is understanding what you really do so you can align the experience your business delivers with the desired experience of your clients.”
In other words, strategy is about providing a consistent match (or strategic fit) between your positioning and you delivery.
Positioning is how the company is to be seen from the outside. Positioning describes how your customers will perceive you (and by association themselves), how your competitors will see the company and how your company reacts and responds to all the external stakeholders.
Delivery describes what your business is really good at and what special skills it is able to bring to solving customer problems better than competitors.
The best strategies achieve fit perfectly, allowing you the ability to be proactive in what you do and consistent in your results.
The Battle For Strategic Fit
It sounds easy but too often the emphasis is on operational effectiveness and efficiency rather than carving out unique space in the market by being different from all your competitors in ways that your targeted customers appreciate.
In short, you have to be clear on who your Ideal Client is and what exactly you are going to deliver for them. THERE IS NO ROOM FOR SITTING ON THE FENCE. You must be completely and firmly committed to a clear course of action. That is the poetry, and quite frankly the magic of being clear on your strategy.
The big problem is that to achieve true strategic fit between your positioning and your capabilities, you have to make choices and some of them are difficult:
- You have to decide what you are going to do so clearly that it rules out many things that you could do. It may feel like you are shunning some opportunities.
- You have to decide who your target customers will be and who you will consciously avoid dealing with. It may feel like you are turning away revenue.
- You have to decide how you are going to deliver your product or service so effectively and efficiently that you can avoid, beat or survive competition. Even a failed strategy can be a winner when the economy is rolling along, so the true measure of a sound strategy is whether or not it is effective when business gets difficult.
The threat of sitting on the fence, and not truly committing to a strategy causes businesses to make trade-offs, and compromises and may cause harm in ways that are not so apparent. You take a job that isn’t completely idea for you. You bring on a client who isn’t quite the right fit. These trade-offs could result in:
- Inconsistencies of image and reputation where a brand won’t travel convincingly from one position to another.
- Activities that require different levels of skills, abilities, attitudes and behavior. A nightmare scenario, your business gets bogged down, you or your staff are pulled away from your core capabilities which pulls you further away from what you should be doing, takes time, costs money and there is also an incredible drain on available energy. Yours and the people who support you.
- Problems managing the complexities and the coordination of diverse customer needs.
Give it some thought. Are you really fully committed to a clear and aligned strategy? Would your clients be able to tell you they have the same experience working with you that you think you are delivering?
What are you waiting for, get off the fence. Go-Change, it will be good for you.