Seven Beacons of Strategy Development

Seven Beacons of Strategy Development

Headlines remind us every day we are in a new era. “The Big Shift” is creating extraordinary change in our social, political, economic, and commercial life. It is upending the world order as we knew it. This era of astonishing change is causing markets, products, and services to become obsolete. At the same time, it is delivering unbridled opportunities. This demands leaders reset the ambitious aspirations they have for their firms. Below are seven critical questions to ask as you consider the future of your firm.

  • “What is our noble purpose?”

Your firm’s vision is not about profits but about creating and serving customers. For example, consider the noble purpose of VIP Packaging. “Help people make sustainable choices”. “Help our customers become more profitable.”

  • “Who are our customers today, who will they be tomorrow?”

Change transforms customers. Your current may not be your future customers. Anticipate your customer base will likely change. For example, in Ontario circa 2000 there were over 300 electricity distribution companies in the Province; today there are approximately 76 and shrinking. Legislative and regulation change precipitated a consolidation in this market. Similar consolidation is under way in virtually every sector of our economy.

  • “How will I serve my future customers?”

RIM, Motorola and Nokia failed to focus on this question. They are paying the price for their lethargy. They relied on making incremental improvements to their cellular devices while Apple made big leaps forward with their IPhone.

  • “What is our business today? What will it be tomorrow?”

Organizations need to redefine their business. For example, railways in the 80s and 90s failed to define their business broadly. They saw themselves as being in the railway rather than in the transportation business. Their business shrank as customers departed to companies who had a broader view of their business.

  • “What are our results?”

Our results are about “How well we served our customers?” “How well we executed our goals?” and “How well we used our resources?”

  • “What is our plan?”

The plan translates the mission into measurable strategic imperatives. Typically, five to seven measurable, time bound strategic imperatives are sufficient to monitor the progress of the company. For example, two of VIP Packaging’s imperatives are: “ensuring that everything we make is 100% recyclable” and “grow annual sales to $1B”.

  • “What are our values?”

VIP Packaging values are embodied in having “competent and committed people that share our values - people with a passionate can-do attitude, entrepreneurial spirit, open and honest personality, who take ownership, and feel a responsibility towards protecting our precious planet. These are the people that will drive our success and that of our customers.”

Answers to the above questions will provide a good start to the development of your firm’s strategy in an era of “The Big Shift”.

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