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What Is Strategy?

by Doug Davidoff | Nov 18, 2005 10:57:17 AM

For those of you that don’t know me, I read a lot of books. What’s a lot? In a slow year I’ll read 50, and when I’m really into it, I’ll read 70 (and that doesn’t count John Grisham’s books). And I love bookstores. I’m in one right now looking at several books. Three of them have chapters, or subchapters, with some form of the title, “What is strategy?” For a word that is used so frequently and given so much importance, it’s distressing to see how difficult it is to understand. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been there. I spent two years trying to understand what strategy was and what it meant. I only ended up more confused than when I started. I hope to clear that confusion for you in the next two paragraphs.

Strategy is simply the process or structure whereby trade-off decisions are made in pursuit of a desired end. Let’s translate that to English. The purpose of strategy is to guide your decision making when it comes to how you use resources. You only have three resources: time, money and energy. No organization that I know has enough of any of them, so you have to choose how you are going to use them. That process or structure that you use is, de facto, your strategy.

What’s that mean? Everyone has a strategy, even if they don’t know what it is. Your challenge is to make sure that your strategy, your process or structure, is effective. How can you make sure that it is effective? First, you must know what your desired results are. You must clearly articulate, document and communicate those expectations. Second, you must make an honest assessment of where you are now. Then you must focus on managing those little decisions everyday with one simple filter – Is this the activity that will have the greatest impact towards removing a barrier that is preventing our desired result? Or will this mobilize one of our greatest strengths to achieve that result. If the answer is no – don’t do it. That decision alone will make your strategic process one of the top 10% in business.

Until next time, Doug

By the way, in my work with companies from a variety of industries, I’ve learned what those key barriers to successful growth are. If you’d like to see how your growth strategy stacks up or where it needs improvement I invite to view The INTELLIGENT GROWTH Diagnostic on my website.