7 things Strategy is NOT
1) Strategy isn’t a to-do list item
Setting up an hour tomorrow afternoon to “work on strategy” likely won’t yield much. It’s something that evolves and develops over weeks–months. Think of it like a pilot flying at 50,000 feet. You take in lots of information about the conditions and your plane’s path through them. It’s a macro view that can’t be polished off in one fell swoop. Strategy development is collaborative, iterative, and painful. Throw the spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks. Do it over and over with lots of different stakeholders.
2) Strategy isn’t uniform
What I mean is this: developing company, brand, product or marketing strategy looks very different as a process from company to company. It relies on strengths and resources. One marketing strategy for company A in industry X might be VERY different than marketing strategy for company B in that same industry X. Companies have culture, histry, and people that require appropriate balancing.
3) Strategy isn’t about what you do
Often times it’s about what you choose NOT to do. Look at all the product lines Apple has chosen to avoid: printers, TVs, etc. They do fantastic at all of them, no doubt. But by focusing on disrupting things like music and cell phones, their singular vision has lead to a user-centric product development model that has lead to be the most powerful technology company in the world. As famous strategist Michael Porter once said: “Trade-offs are central to a company’s strategy. They create the need for choice and purposefully limit what a company offers.”
4) Strategy isn’t something to outsource
You know your business in and out. You know your customers, their needs, and their perceptions. Paying a consultant to come in and “do strategy” doesn’t make sense. You’ll probably spend more time explaining things you’ve taken years to learn only to have them recommend a canned and cliche business strategy. You CAN bring in outside help, but keep it collaborative, open, and leverage each other’s strengths.
5) Strategy isn’t always active
Because company and product strategy is navigating the appropriate path for a given industry and marketplace, sometimes the correct action is purposefully not acting. <<Kinda stuck here. I know there’s a good example, but can’t think of it.>>
6) Strategy isn’t boring
It’s living and active and your business relies on it. Big ideas affecting entire companies and organizations is the high-stakes game of business poker. It’s an honor to be a part of that process.
7) Strategy isn’t easy
Strategy is really similar to raw creative work. You could spend weeks on something and get nowhere–or you could have a stroke of genius and make headway in no time. Find your strategic inspiration and trust your brain.