Edit ModuleShow Tags

If you have a strategy – tell me what it is!


“Why will people buy from you versus your competition?” I asked a CEO. He recently went through a “strategic planning” process, so the question seemed reasonable. He couldn’t answer it. Some of you reading this can’t either.

More often than not, CEOs believe they have a strategy, but when asked to articulate it, it turns into a loose speech that doesn’t really answer where they compete and why they’ll win.

If you’re a CEO, walk the hallways and ask people these two questions: “What is our market?” and “Why will people buy from us rather than someone else?” If you can’t clearly answer them, they won’t be able to either. And if they can’t answer them, how will they make the critical decisions necessary to move the company forward?

There’s no one right way to compose a strategy statement, but below is a template that’ll serve you well if you’re stumped. However, the decisions necessary to fill in the blanks require some work! This assumes that you’ve undertaken a strategic thinking process to identify the driving force in your business, the strategic profile and critical issues.

Step 1: Use the “driving force” model of strategy[i] to write the following strategy template:

(Company name) is a (DRIVING FORCE)-driven organization that serves (CLEARLY DEFINED MARKET/CUSTOMER GROUP) with (TIGHT PRODUCT/SERVICES DESCRIPTION) in (GEOGRAPHY). Our critical areas of excellence are (THREE OR FEWER AREAS OF EXCELLENCE).

Step 2: Wordsmith the strategy statement until you’re comfortable and confident. Your vision must be compelling; your strategy is more about description and focus. Each word is important and should have meaning such that you can make decisions and direct your team.

Step 3: Identify what changes you’ll undertake and what you’ll stop doing to execute this strategy (e.g., products, customers, geography, programs, systems, rewards and organizational changes).

Step 4: Communicate this in a dialogue with your team in multiple ways. Repeat it frequently. If you aren’t bored with your message, you’re not repeating it enough!

Step 5: Use the strategy statement in decision making, planning, hiring and budgeting so it’s effective. Identify how you’ll systematize this.

Simple, but not easy!

[i] This model, initially espoused by Kepner-Tregoe, says that there is one “driving force” in your business such as product, market, technology, operations capability, marketing method, etc.

Edit Module
Todd Ordal

Todd Ordal is president of Applied Strategy®. Todd helps CEOs achieve better financial results, become more effective leaders and sleep easier at night. He is a former CEO and has led teams as large as 7,000. Todd is the author of Never Kick a Cow Chip On A Hot Day: Real Lessons for Real CEOs and Those Who Want To Be (Morgan James Publishing, 2016). Connect with Todd on LinkedIn, Twitter, call 303-527-0417 or email todd@toddordal.com.

Get more of our current issue | Subscribe to the magazine | Get our Free e-newsletter

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Articles

When your conscience and your bottom line butt heads

You’re halfway through a home remodel and you realize you sourced the materials from a company that’s recently made egregious environmental violations. Now what?

What to do about corporate taxes

Nobody likes paying taxes, but American CEOs in particular seem to be adept at finding new ways to minimize corporate taxes. As an example, consider the computer giant, Apple.

Should "ballot selfies" be banned?

A Colorado state senator and a University of Denver student have filed a lawsuit challenging a state law that prohibits people from sharing photos of their complete ballots on social media.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Thanks for contributing to our community-- please keep your comments in good taste and appropriate for our business professional readers.

Add your comment: