Rethink strategy

Finally you’ve got it all figured out. The Strategy. Tons of workshopped white board material. Good thinking in a huge Powerpoint presentation .. but no one gets it, no one understands. You’re alone.

The Strategy is not happening by itself. After or preferably before heavy workshopping get someone from outside involved in the process and you will see your baby brought to life.

The Strategy is not happening by itself

Quite common approach to work with company planning is to describe it from the bottom up, building it on the “cornerstones” of vision, mission and strategy etc. Just like a house. And in the form of a house, it is sometimes presented.

Nothing wrong with that. Thus established and built, houses are then usually meant to remain unshakable in place for decades. This may not be the most adaptable way of thinking business strategy and operations. The need for modification and adaptation will most likely come up within the current year rather than decades from now.

One confounding factor in general strategy thinking is the confusion of terms. In particular, the words mission and vision tend to blur and confuse their meanings with each other. I’ll open the terms here briefly – how I myself think they are fairly explanatory:

Vision is the big dream, and th reason to exist which today may be far in the future, but which is possible to be true one day and which the company’s activities aim for. The Vision does not have a direct guiding effect on the business, but it is at the heart of decisions and making.

Mission is much closer than the Vision and it already has a guiding effect on business so that issues agreed in it can be realized in the near future.

Essential to this my approach is that the Vision is at the top of the Strategy, not down in the foundation. The company plans and operations are aimed at the Vision and do not – as usual – start from the Vision. Sounds reasonable?

Mission accomplished. Repeat

Thus, when realized, the Mission will enable the Vision to be realized. Implementation of the Operational Strategy, in turn, is the plan for the realization of the Vision. Operational Strategy is the core of the Strategy. This part of Strategy is often referred to when talking about strategy in general. It consists of annual or medium-term Strategy Priorities of 1 to 5. Strategy Priorities direct the daily operations. Within these priorities and operations are the actual practical Actions, the engine of the company daily life.

Strategy components:
= the big dream
Mission = enables the Vision to become true
Operational Strategy = makes the Mission possible
Strategy Priorities = conduct the Operational Strategy
Actions = bring life to Strategy Priorities

This is the principle. And of course the business journey is not a linear path from Action to Vision. Vision is not the ulimate goal after which everything ends. It’s more like: Vision accomplished. Repeat.

Based on this thinking, the strategy becomes an active management tool, and its components implement each other rather than – as usual – it will be a forgotten Powerpoint file dusted on the file server, which is “updated” in the annual strategy sessions.

I offer this, practical and much better self explaining approach to review your strategy to allow changes and enable to live in changing times. This model has no radicalizing effect on strategy thinking itself .. except that your strategy may suddenly start to seem interesting and competent, and that it is possible to become true.

To bring your strategy to life – or if you are about to sell anything – you’ll have to make The Promise! What is your key argument? Next post coming up about: promise, enabling and delivery. Stay tuned !

Concept does not replace strategy .. read more about concept.

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Timo Keinänen Explorer, service designer, concept designer, art director, writer and designer.
”I belive that you should be yourself, as all other roles are already taken. If you have the opportunity to express an opinion, express your own.”

Thoughts, posts and opinions represent myself only.

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