Leaders in Strategy Blog Episode 2: What’s The Point of Strategy?

Written by Mike Harris, Managing Director at Strategus Consulting

In this episode, Mike Harris explores 10 essential reasons why having an organizational strategy is crucial. By replicating the format of his successful workshops, Mike provides a robust defence which will be built upon in future podcasts.

Introduction

Hello to all you Leaders In Strategy! I’m Mike Harris and welcome back to the second episode of my blog, where I’m going to discuss the fundamental question – ‘What’s The Point Of A Strategy?’.

I am an experienced leadership consultant, and most of what I do is through workshops, seminars, and coaching.

Last year, I decided to widen our reach and help a new audience, and someone suggested doing a blog. So here we are, and each episode will cover a different subject related to leadership & strategy. I will share insights from my successful workshops & seminars & hopefully you will gain a different perspective and some helpful insights.

Everything I look at will be through the lens of strategy. For some of you this will be new and for some this will act as a refresher. It will help sharpen the skills that you already have. It will also remind you about things that perhaps you should be doing at work but you have forgotten about, or you don’t have time to do.

 

What’s the point of a strategy?

As  part of my role at Strategus Consulting, I visit many businesses, meet a lot of business owners, directors, senior managers and they don’t tend to have a strategy. Or if they do, it’s a thick document that’s rarely looked at. Just sitting on the shelf collecting dust. So, to me it’s as if a strategy doesn’t exist, or if it does exist it’s not live in the businesses.

Therefore, I’ve concluded that most business leaders just don’t see the point of a strategy. Well spoiler alert, I don’t agree and in this blog I hope to persuade you why it’s essential that you have a business strategy.

Here are my 10 reasons why you need a strategy.

  1. It makes you frame the destination of where you want to go as a business. So that you’re looking ahead to where you want to get to. You are identifying what you want to achieve. After all you wouldn’t  start a journey without knowing your destination. You wouldn’t go on a long trip without a map. Also do you know you’ve you’ve reached your destination if you don’t know where it is in the first place?
  2. Your strategy sets long term goals and objectives so that you can look at what you want to achieve over the life of the strategy.
  3. It establishes the benchmarks & targets that you can report, record and monitor your progress against over the life of the strategy.  If you know where you want to be in a years’  time, two years’ time, three years’ time etc. you can monitor how are you doing. It’s absolutely essential to have benchmarks and target so that you can know whether you’re succeeding or whether there are things you need to do to get yourself back on track.
  4. Your strategy identifies the obstacles and challenges that may stop your strategy from being successful. I don’t say that to be defeatist, but it is really important you think ahead to what may be the tripwires that are going to cause you problems. I think the identification of obstacles and challenges is one of the most important aspects of any strategy.
  5. It’s important that decisions fit the long-term interests. Whether they are strategic or day-to-day decisions, understanding how they contribute to the overall game plan is key. Having a clear strategy in place makes it a lot easier to come to the right decision when you’ve got alternatives to consider.
  6. A strategy helps everybody work together to achieve a common aim. If you don’t have something that sets it out, then people are going to go off in different directions, with different ideas, which don’t necessarily connect up. It’s really important that the strategy is shared with everybody so that people at all levels of the organisation, from the most junior members of staff to the most senior, know what the purpose of the business is. What you’re trying to achieve. That way everybody can be singing from the same hymn sheet.

This is equally important if your business only involves one or two people, as it makes sure that you’re focused on what you’re trying to achieve at all times.

  1. Your strategy communicates expectations, so everybody knows what you’re trying to achieve, why you’re trying to achieve it, and when you’re trying to achieve it. Providing a coherent and consistent message.
  2. It reinforces the company culture. For established companies, a strategy serves as a reminder of the existing culture, especially when bringing in new team members or transitioning employees into different roles within the organization. On the other hand, for start-ups it will help establish the culture right from the outset.
  3. You may be part of another organisation. Perhaps you have a parent company. Alternatively, you have shareholders or investors. Your organisation may be impacted on by your local community, or by family and friends. If so, your strategy will need to consider their strategies. The point here is you don’t exist in a vacuum, and you need to think about other stakeholders that have an impact on your strategy.
  4. Lastly and probably most importantly, you need to make sure your strategy meets your clients’ needs. Don’t forget about your customers. I know a lot of businesses that have a great strategy but haven’t consulted with their customers at all. These can be current customers & future customers. Think about their needs, try to understand what their strategy is moving forward. How do you help them achieve theirs, can you align your strategy with their strategy. Should they align? These are the things you should be thinking about when you think about your customers.

I know really that you all understand the importance of having a strategy. After all you’re all leaders in strategy. However, I thought that by playing devil’s advocate I can remind you about the importance of a strategy and why you should have one in place.

In summary

The defence for having an organisational strategy:

  1. Makes you frame your destination.
  2. Sets long term goals and objectives.
  3. Establishes Benchmarks & Targets.
  4. Identifies obstacles and challenges.
  5. Decisions fit long term interests.
  6. Work together to achieve common aims.
  7. Communicates expectations.
  8. Enforces the Company Culture.
  9. Comply with any Stakeholder strategies.
  10. Ensures you are meeting clients’ needs.

Homework

Hopefully you don’t mind me setting some homework. I’d like you to take stock, does your organisation have an effective strategy? Is it live in the business or just on a shelf somewhere collecting dust? Does it need updating? And perhaps most importantly, have I changed your mind over the importance of having a strategy?

I’d like to hear from you by email sales.enquiry@strategusconsulting.co.uk or contact me directly on LinkedIn.

Episode 3:

I hope you enjoyed this blog, and will come back for our next episode when I tackle the fundamental question:  ‘What influences a strategy?’

 

About the author

Mike Harris is an experienced business leader and founder & lead consultant at Strategus Consulting. With 40 years of experience, Mike offers a unique opportunity for readers to learn and grow as strategic leaders. He is also the host of the Leaders In Strategy Podcast, which can be found on Podbean, Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Podcast and YouTube.

The Leaders In Strategy Blog is brought to you by Strategus Consulting, a management consultancy that works with organizations and individuals to achieve their ambitions by focusing on their strategic plans and providing leadership, guidance & support.

www.strategusconsulting.co.uk