18 mar, 2019

Can’t sleep? Take a Corporate Strategy!

18 mar, 2019

Have you ever had trouble falling asleep whilst working in a different time zone?

Here’s an idea. How about trying something that will put you in a sedative state of mind and make you fall asleep faster than ever before? Just bring a corporate strategy to bed, and chances are, in a jiffy you’ll be resting in the arms of Morpheus.

Well, if that is the case, you should wake up and smell the coffee!

The corporate strategy is the company’s most important document – a roadmap to achieving its most important goals.

Subsequently, the most important – and maybe only – leadership skill required is the ability to create, conceptualize and communicate the strategy.

The depressing news is that millions of audiences, stakeholders and organizations are put to sleep by hypnotic strategy plans and strategy presentations every day, which makes strategies very difficult to implement.

This is a paradox in an age where we have ‘strategy departments’, endless series of ‘strategy presentations’ and every act in business is meant to be ‘strategic’.

How should we keep our audiences, stakeholders and fellow folks from the management awake, agile and inspired, then? Perhaps by abandoning certain phrases from our executive vocabulary. Before pointing out these phrases, however, let’s explore the three major challenges facing concise strategy sharing practices.

  1. Complexity vs clarity. In our eagerness to cover all details in our complex business environment, we tend to forget that communication is not about including every small detail but about prioritising and emphasising what we want the organisation to remember, understand and act upon.
  2. Quantity vs Quality. Honestly, most strategies are too much – too long – too boring. I admit I have fallen asleep during strategy presentations and I’m certain I’m not the only one. The scope of a strategy should fit to keep the recipient awake and alert.
  3. The Strategy Bull****. Sorry, I couldn’t find a better phrase. According to the Oxford dictionary, ‘bullshit’ means ‘stupid and/or nonsense’, which is at the emphasis here: We use a lot of vague and fluffy terms and acronyms, but forget to explain what they actually mean. Often times we end up in a messy mix of mission, vision, values and strategies.

The top ten trendy yet fluffy expressions I see in today’s strategy presentations are:

“Our strategy is to be consumer centric by putting the client in the centre of all activities”

“Our strategy is to become the market leader in [insert industry]”

“Our strategy is become the preferred supplier of [insert product]”

“Our strategy is to attract the most competent people in [insert industry]”

“Our strategy is to be a socially responsible and ethical company”

“Our strategy is to add value for our clients”

“Our strategy is to deliver unique state-of-the-art solutions”

“Our strategy is to be a network organization

“Our strategy is to grow organically

“Our strategy is to work in partnerships with our clients

Let me ask you this: Would the opposite of any of the statements above make sense?

That’s what I thought. Most of them are prerequisites to leading a company. And most of them have nothing to do with strategy at all, just clichés designed to making strategy look like – well, a strategy.

Strategy is the road map to achieving your company’s goals and communication is your most important leadership tool – so what would you say if you were to throw away the abovementioned strategic bullshit phrases? Something clear, concise and short, I promise:

  1. Focus on the few important issues the company has to overcome, and why they are critical.
  2. Describe the methodology and actions of how to address these challenges.
  3. Be concrete, measurable and visual in describing the goal you want to achieve.

Brutally simple – Just like a good strategy!

Note: if your strategy is to put your stakeholders to sleep quickly, you should use this super-phrase, condensing the 10 fluffy phrases into an absolutely super-useless – but-still-super-important-looking-statement-no-one-will-ever-stay-awake-to-challenge:

“Our strategy is to be a consumer centric, socially responsible and ethicalnetwork organization of competent people, which grows organically, and works in partnerships with our clients in order to become the market leaderand preferred supplier of unique state-of-the-art solutions, adding value to our clients’ businesses.

Thank you for staying awake long enough to read this.

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