Strategy is an over-used word in business.  Many more of us talk about making strategic decisions than actually know what they are.  But for those of you who can secretly admit to not being sure – we can let you into the secret…

First establish your vision for the company.  It may be something like “We want to be recognised as the best quality provider of xxx in the UK”.

**** NOW STOP! ****

Setting a vision like that implies that you recognise that you are not yet seen in that position.  So something needs to change to get you there.  And yet this is where most people jump straight into planning what they are going to do along the same lines as what they have always done.

But as Einstein said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

So now is the moment to take some time out to think deeply about how to achieve this goal.

First get a group of all the main stakeholders together and brainstorm a list of all the possible ways of achieving your goal.  Allow for the wacky and the fanciful without allowing critical voices to shut them down.  Then identify all the factors you need to know in order to make a decision on which approach to adopt.  This might include:

  • What new techniques you could use
  • Cost
  • Time to develop
  • Skills and resources
  • Marketing skills
  • Sales skills
  • Legal implications
  • Health and safety considerations

And, of course, there should be many, many more…

Then send everyone off to get some answers to these considerations - well thought through and written down.

Now you need to look at external factors: all the possible things that could affect you reaching your goal.  A PESTLE or STEEPLE analysis is the best way of making sure you cover all possibilities.  Ask the group to think widely about what might happen that could completely disrupt your marketplace.  Again, be careful that no one shuts down any ideas too soon.

Now you are finally in a position for the group to have an open discussion about which approach is best.  Once the well-researched tactic is agreed on you can then move into planning and implementing your vision, and this time, if your strategic analysis was thoroughly done, you may be doing something very different from anything you have done before.

This is strategic thinking. It's a detailed process and can be boring - sometimes even depressing, but it might stop you going the same route as Phones 4u or more recently BHS.

Now, do you think strategically?  Answer honestly and if it is a “no” you might be interested in joining us on our next Strategic Thinking and Decision Making course.