The role of Strategy is more important than ever. Business is bigger and more complex than ever, competition is rampant, categories blur, communications can be chaotic, audiences are dispersed globally and most of our major systems are in states of major disruption. In this environment, formal, diligent attention to Strategy is non-negotiable.
But ‘Strategy for Today’ is a different beast than it was even a decade ago. While strategy has always had to be smart, in the last few years there has been a noticeable shift from a desire for lengthy, convoluted strategy, and strategic documents, to a request for concisely distilled strategy.
‘Strategy for Today’ must be smart, of course, but today, it must also be simple. This is the biggest demand and requirement I have identified coming from all manner of clients in today’s market environment – that smart strategy be made simple.
I have stated my belief that strategy is critical. And it must be smart, obviously. It must capture goals and objectives: organizational, of the business, and of specific discipline areas. What are we trying to do? What are the needs we understand intimately and will address? What is the vision that adheres us? What is our point of difference: our meaningful, compelling role to play in the market ecosystem? Why is it credible? And then how do we convey it? To whom? When? How? In what manner?
To arrive at this understanding is not an easy process. To do it well means embracing complexity, understanding broadly and deeply the factors at play, distilling, shaping and setting direction. It means having a strong handle on the data, an intuitive visionary view to future possibility and the language and emotion to capture how it can be brought to life. It is by no means an easy task.
But most importantly, when all is said and done, ‘Strategy for Today’ must wade through this complexity and be made simple.
‘Strategy for Today’ can not have the output of a 100-page, inked document, formalized, set in stone to be blindly adhered to.
More and more, the demand and requirement is to capture the strategy in a phrase, in a page, in an image even.
Why? Because ‘Strategy for Today’ is a different beast, critically operating within a changed market environment. ‘Strategy for Today’ must be able to be responsive, to evolve, and to be shared. Which is why it is so important that it be made simple.
In my practice, this requirement of ‘Strategy for Today’ made simple has very tangible implications. It means that when assigned a project, I go deep into understanding: researching, question-asking, collaborating, and ideating. I share, review, consider, re-consider and solicit feedback on a continual basis. And I make decisions, distill, shape and set direction.
But the process does not end there. ‘Strategy for Today’ is not complete until it can be conveyed simply: in a 30-second elevator ride, in an at-a-glance strategy document, with the perfect representation of image and language.
Because it is with this ‘Strategy for Today’, smart AND simple, that organizations can actually respond to, evolve, share, and ultimately use strategy to guide them to success.