Good Strategy is not just about what you are going to do, but why and how you are going to do it. Good leaders take full responsibility for the why and how of good Strategy. They ensure that the why lines up with the organization’s values and Vision, and not only the bottom line or board’s demands. They ensure the how is guided by ethical practices and is in the best interests of the members of the organization.
Good Strategy requires leaders to say no to a wide variety of actions and interests that could derail the intended strategic pursuit. Strategy can only be successful if there is clarity about which priorities are actually the most important, and if those priorities are communicated clearly. Only then can effective
action be taken.
Good Strategy is a cohesive and focused response to a well-defined challenge. It always needs to include an action plan. Strategy without viable action is missing the single critical element to make it useful. Good Strategy brings a strength up against a point of weakness; as outlined in the first section, in order to do this, a deep analysis of the weakness must occur first.
AT ITS CORE, GOOD STRATEGY REQUIRES THREE COMPONENTS, IN THIS ORDER:
- DIAGNOSIS Accurately identifying the challenge being faced. Challenges are frequently misdiagnosed or misunderstood. It behooves leaders to hold themselves back from making any assumptions and reflect and deeply consider the diagnosis of the problem.
- A GUIDING POLICY The Why; The decisive, Vision-centric approach to addressing the challenge. By clarifying which specific idea or goal is the most important in the situation, and using that idea as the guiding force behind the Strategy, all decisions made will, by default, be coherent and cohesive. A Guiding Policy reduces the complexity and ambiguity in the situation.
- COHERENT ACTION Coordinated resources, policies and actions to carry out the guiding policy. While the Guiding Policy can be identified as the “Thinking Strategy,” coherent action is the “Action Strategy,” including the actions, policies, and resources needed to accomplish the desired result. All parts of this action plan need to be cohesive, that is, they need to work together to accomplish the intent of the Guiding Policy. No parts of the action plan should conflict with each other.
Remember, coherent strategic action is an imposition, a force of change on the situation. Like any force, strategic action needs momentum to accomplish the goal. To keep up the momentum of change, a leader must be vigilant in maintaining it. Good Strategy is about imposing the right actions in the right amount onto the situation, and maintaining momentum until the goal is reached.