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Strategy is Simple

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If I met anyone from your senior leadership team in the lift, and asked what your strategy is – how many different answers would I get?

It’s hard to answer complicated questions with simple answers.

It’s even harder to answer simple questions when all we have are complicated answers.

Somewhere along the way, we let the buzzwords take over. Senior leaders and CEs are walking around talking about objectives, missions, visions, purpose, strategies, approaches, principles, values, action plans and initiatives – it’s enough to give anyone a headache.

Don’t try googling “strategy definition” either. It’s a nightmare.

“Good writing is clear thinking made visible. “– Bob Wheeler

Have you ever heard the saying “if you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself”? This is a lot like that. Using jargon and complicated phrasing is a clear sign we don’t know what we’re on about.

A central agency I’m working with on a strategy rollout has put together an organisational strategy that’s had about half a dozen name changes this year. It’s been a plan, a common purpose, a strategy, a mahi…. With all this energy going into figuring out what it’s called, it’s no wonder they need a hand to get traction or engagement.

The problem here is not with having a strategy – direction is critical. The problem is when we focus on the words, or pile more things on because we don’t know how to answer the hard questions.

This isn’t usually because we don’t understand the why – most leaders understand the big picture. It’s not with the what either –we’re usually overflowing with passionate people driving fantastic work programmes and initiatives.

The problem is in the middle – with being clear about how we make decisions and allocate resources. This is strategy. The connecting piece that brings together our aspirations and operations. Boiled down, strategy is about how we make choices that take us closer to our big goals.

Strategy is about how we make choices that take us closer to our goals.

A simple approach is good for business, too. Paul Leinwand found that organisations with 1-3 key priorities were significantly more profitable and effective. Simple strategy drives alignment, creates meaning and connects with people.

So, it’s time to bust the myth – strategy isn’t complicated. It’s simple.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Do you need to strip away the buzzwords and get clear on how you make choices that take you closer to your goals?