Every leader knows that strategy is important. Just look at a leader’s job description and you will see the word “strategy” or “strategic” embedded. The phrase “strategic planning” is likely to show up as well. As a leader or manager, you make decisions constantly. Your ability to be strategic can determine your success. But what is strategy and why has it become a buzzword that is often misunderstood?
In the January-February 2014 edition of the Harvard Business Review, Roger Martin wrote an excellent article titled: “The Big Lie of Strategic Planning”. This article is a must read for anyone in a position where strategy is pivotal. The article is filled with valuable information, but one statement struck me as critical:
Mistaking planning for strategy is a common trap. Even board members, who are supposed to be keeping managers honest about strategy, fall into it. They are, after all, primarily current or former managers, who find it safer to supervise planning than to encourage strategic choice.
Are most of us working in organizations where something as important as strategy is falling by the wayside? I believe we are and Martin’s article convinced me that strategy gaps exists because of the way we think about strategy.
Over the past 15 years I have worked in a number of organizations where the word strategy was used frequently but practiced poorly. I can honestly say that despite working with over 50 organizations - as a consultant or employee - only one was truly strategic. That organization grew exponentially, empowered people, deeply understood the market, built strong relationships with customers, took risks, and made game changing decisions frequently. The organization was one of the fastest growing companies in Northern Virginia and consistently delivered exceptional value to profitable customers.
Working there felt great. People were smart, dedicated, flexible, fun, and inspirational. People shared values, stories, experiences, and a passion for the work. Everyone rallied around the strategy that the CEO clearly and frequently communicated. Everyone knew where the company was heading and felt empowered to take it there. Working at McDonald Bradley Inc. (MBI) was exceptional.
Reading Martin’s article and looking back on my experience at MBI inspired me to think differently about strategy and how to help leaders be strategic. I decided to sketch a simple framework that change makers and leaders can use to visualize strategy and streamline strategy formulation. I call the tool the One Page Strategy Map and I am attaching it here for your reference. Please feel free to use this and share it with others. All I ask in return is that you direct people to www.mattcrosscoaching.com when you use the tool.
Here is how you might use the one-page-strategy map:
So there you have it. A one page strategy map that you can use to create your strategy. If you use this in the right way you might even inspire alignment around your strategy. Enjoy...
What do you think of the one-page-strategy map. Are there any elements you would add or take away?