Strategy is an integrated explanation of how an organization is going to guide its performance into the future.
That’s my basic definition. This is the beginning of a blog series that will elaborate on this definition. Let’s start with the big picture first.
I have reviewed hundreds of “strategic planning” documents from organizations. And most of them don’t include much “strategy.” I have found that most organizations have lots of plans and activities in these documents,
If you ask an organization (in any sector -- corporate, government, not-for-profit) for their strategy, then what you usually get is a collection of disconnected goals or initiatives. Sometimes you get spreadsheets with revenue projections. These are not a strategy!
Here’s the bottom line.
A strategy needs to provide high level direction to an organization on how it will guide its performance into the future – how it will accomplish its mission. It does not provide “action plan” level details. It provides “themes” that will be followed in the coming years.
A few years ago, Collins & Rukstad had this to say about strategy in an article they wrote in the Harvard Business Review*:
“Leaders of firms are mystified when what they thought was a beautifully crafted strategy is never implemented. . . . They fail to appreciate the necessity of having a simple, clear, succinct strategy statement that everyone can internalize and use as a guiding light for making difficult choices.”
That’s what a strategy is – a simple, clear, succinct statement. Stay tuned to learn more about how to develop a strategy that will guide your organization toward Breakthroughs in your Mission Impact.