If someone were to ask you “What is your strategy?”, how would you respond? Would you go to wikipedia and look it up? It seems like a simple question, but if you were in a situation where a question was expected right away (e.g. interview, planning session with executives, etc.), what exactly would you say? Try to write it down in a sentence or say it out loud and you will find out how hard it really is to clearly articulate a definition of strategic plan.
From my experience, the best explanations are simple and to the point. The more complicated you make it, the harder it will be to actually do something with it. Always think “application” when outlining a strategy. Because until you can do something with it, a strategy is just another document you want someone to read.
My definition of strategy: WHAT are we going to do and WHY we are going to do it.
Outline of Strategy:
1) What are you going to do?
- Objectives – Description of 1-3 high level initiatives that you are looking to achieve. Do not try to make over three objectives because it will dilute the impact. Example: Achieve top line revenue targets within largest growth market segments.
- Goals – This is how you are going to measure your objectives. Once again, keep this simple by outlining at the highest level #, %, $, etc. Example: $100M in revenue generated from retail, healthcare, and financial services markets.
2) Why are you going to do it?
- Underneath each objective should be a reason as to why you decided to focus in this area. This is the rationale to support your decisions. Focus on facts, not opinions. If you are presenting to an audience, you might not put this on a slide, but it should be in your talking points. Consider someone asking you “Why $100M, and not $110M?” You should have a rock solid response based on customer data, market data, sales history, etc.
- Consider if you are doing one thing, you are choosing to not do something else. Make sure you have an idea of what will not get done and how that might impact time, people, and money. Once again, not sure it should go onto a slide, but definitely noteworthy during the discussion if it will impact the organization.
Once you have identified your Strategy, you are able to put things into action by formulating a Strategic Plan. This is where you put together how you plan to accomplish with a HOW and WHEN focus.