The CEO’s guide to strategy

What is “strategy”? This is a question that numerous executives, academics and scholars have asked. Countless books, papers and dissertations have been written about the subject. S+B Magazine recently wrote a short article on the subject titled Strategy: An Executive’s Definition and they have devised one of the simplest and yet best summaries of what strategy is. They define it using an easy to remember framework based on three parameters.

Strategy is the decisions that executives make about 1) Where to play 2) How to play 3) How most effectively to play (How to maximise value)

This is a simple and powerful way to think about strategy. Strategy is different from vision, mission, goals, plans and tactics although these need to be interlinked for a cohesive organisation to function.

As a leader are you asking yourself the questions:

  1. Where are we playing?
  2. How should we play?
  3. What is the most effective way to play?

These are three questions an executive team should be asking and sense checking each month because in a world that is constantly changing where, how and what you play should change as markets, competitors and customers around you change as well. As Booz & Co the authors of S+B Magazine put it:

In the end, to define the fundamentals of your business strategy, you need only to answer three questions:

1. Who is the target customer?

2. What is the value proposition to that customer?

3. What are the essential capabilities needed to deliver that value proposition?

Without clear and coherent answers to these three questions, you may have an exciting vision, a compelling mission, clear goals, and an ambitious strategic plan with many actions under way, but you won’t have a strategy

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