Five answers to define your strategy-making process

Our previous blog post explored five interlinked questions to help you develop your strategy and lead all aspects of the strategy-making process.

The five interlinked questions, which cascade logically from the first to the last, and that drives your strategy-making decisions are:

  1. What are our broad aspirations for our organization and the concrete goals against to measure our progress? (Aspirations and Goals)
  2. Across the potential field available, where will we choose to play and not play? (Where to Play)
  3. In our chosen place to play, how will we choose to win against our competitors? (How to Win)
  4. What capabilities are necessary to build and maintain to win in our chosen manner? (Capabilities)
  5. What management systems are necessary to operate to build and maintain key capabilities? (Management Systems)

So where does it all actually start? The first step is starting with five answers that are consistent and reinforce and support one another. The second is creating a mission and vision that creates a meaningful aspiration for all involved and that identifies and acknowledges Where to Play and How to Win.

That said, if you think entirely about Where to Play and How to Win without consideration of Aspirations & Goals, you may end up with a strategy that is effective for its intended goal but isn’t something you would actually want.

What this means is that to create a strategy, you have to iterate — think a little bit about Aspirations & Goals, then a little bit about Where to Play and How to Win, then back to Aspirations & Goals to check and modify, then down to Capabilities and Management Systems to check whether it is really doable, then back up again to modify accordingly.

What are our broad aspirations for our organization and the concrete goals against which to measure our progress? (Aspirations & Goals)

Our strategy starts with answering the question: what do we want to achieve? This involves setting an aspiration for the organization — what it wants to be known for, or become — and deriving specific goals from that. The goals act as milestones to track progress against the strategy and ensure it is on course.

The aspiration should be something that is inspiring and aspirational — something to strive for — but also achievable. It should be concrete enough that it can be operationalized and measured, but not so specific that it constrains the strategy. For example, an aspiration to “be the best” is not very helpful, but an aspiration to “be the best at X” is much more useful.

Some examples of broad aspirations are:

– To be the most trusted organization in our industry

– To be the most customer-centric organization in our industry

– To be the most innovative organization in our industry

From these aspirations, we can set specific goals, which need to be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.. For example, if our aspiration is to be the most customer-centric organization in our industry, our goals could be:

– To increase customer satisfaction by X%

– To reduce customer churn by X%

– To increase Net Promoter Score by X points

While it may sound a bit daunting, iterating like this actually makes strategy easier. It will save you from endless visioning exercises, misdirected SWOT analyses, and lots of heroically uninformed big thinking. Crafting your strategy in relatively small and concrete chunks and honing the answers to the five questions through iteration will get you a better strategy, with much less pain and wasted time.

Empiraa then ensures that your strategy can effectively be delivered upon, whether it be through KPI’s, objectives or any other measurable that shows progress, drives collaboration and sees your strategy and team go from strength to strength.

September 8, 2022
Team Empiraa