I always talk about the fact that the word ‘strategy’ is often one of the most abused, overused and misunderstood words in any entrepreneur’s vocabulary. Everyone assumes they’re being strategic, when in fact, they’re being tactical.
Many of the clients that I work with and coach often get the concept confused as a means to describe their objectives and goals – rather than a methodology that needs to be constantly adapted to help them achieve success in their market.
Let’s do some real unpacking and figure out exactly how strategy works and how it effectively applies to business.
Unpacking War – The Origins Of Strategy
There are many ways to build a company strategy, as there are numerous strategies and methodologies out there, along with a wide selection of tools that support the use and abuse of a great one.
But it should be said that there exists no perfect strategy methodology and that a lot of dependence lies on the complexity of the person’s barriers; like the maturity of their business and how quickly and aggressively they want to build the business and maintain it.
The strategies used for entrepreneurs need to feed the entrepreneurial dream, versus a corporate dream and they should most certainly be differentiated.
In unpacking strategy and it’s roots, you’ll find that it was born out of war with the need to ensure victory over a common enemy. The ultimate price to pay was that of death; with all the many fatalities war has brought there needed to be a way of thinking that would reduce loss and increase the odds of victory.
This boils down to the need of defeating your opponent in the most effective way possible. As soon as there are competitors in the same space; you cannot co-exist and need to take some kind of action to achieve a long-term goal of success.
“No Plan Survives Contact With The Enemy.”
The German field marshal, Moltke the Elder, said that “No plan of operations extends with certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy’s main strength,” meaning that any strategy is always vulnerable and rarely goes without the need for adaptation to the ever-changing circumstances in war.
This extends to the use of any strategy in pretty much any arena – whether it’s boxing, business, or battle. No strategy is bulletproof and should always be used with the clear understanding that circumstances can change at any given moment, so adaptability is key.
In business, you might build a strategy (with a solid plan of action) that you take to market and as soon as you engage with the enemy – your competition, clients, the industry – your plan ends up being imperfect, leaving you with no choice, but to adjust that plan accordingly.
You should never be completely comfortable with your strategy and need to realign it at multiple stages; it needs to always be flexible enough to change or adapt.
I’ve never seen a person, whether it’s one of my clients or someone in a competitive environment, build a 12-month or even 3-year strategy, get to the end and achieve their goals without changing that strategy – a perfect strategy simply doesn’t exist.
One of the biggest stories that come to mind reaffirming this is the battle of Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, a battle also known as “the Sound and the Fury”. These formidable boxers prepared for months studying one another’s fighting techniques, strengths, weaknesses and abilities, each coming up with a strategy to win the battle – until that plan came into contact with the enemy.
During the 3rd round, both boxers were forced to shed away their strategies, as Tyson surprised the world by biting a sizable portion off of Holyfield’s ear. In no way could Holyfield have planned for such an insane turn of events, throwing his strategy straight out of the window. Even with Tyson having lost control of his temper, none of what had happened was planned for and changed the outcome for both parties involved.This example provides insight into the ever-changing nature of strategy and how to approach it going forward, rather than believing it to be a fixed solution.
With Strategy, “It Always Depends”
The answer to any strategic question or method is “it always depends”, as certain variables can alter the strategy at any stage of it being implemented.
It always depends on what the ambitions are, where we are in the market, how well we’re funded and what leads or resources we have; which results in a constantly dynamic and often imperfect strategy implementation. There’s always a strategy that makes sense at that given time and there are always factors that can alter its viability.
It’s important to understand that strategy is generally broken down into six core stages:
Understanding the current situation; where you are in the market, what works and what doesn’t, where or who your opposition are; your pricing and everything that talks to where your business is today.
Goals, objectives and what you hope to achieve; by making use of the variety of ways to set a plan of action and assessing how close or far you are to achieving your desired results; and knowing exactly what it is that you want to achieve and by when.
Implementation of high-level strategies that can be used to achieve the goals and objectives set, bearing in mind any changes that need to occur during that stage.
The tactics and methods used to activate those strategies in the best possible way and by when they should provide results, or will be in need of re-evaluation.
Granular-level actions to identify and decide who is going to be doing what, how they are going to do it and by when; what needs to be done daily, weekly or monthly to achieve the strategy.
Control and measurement of the strategy, deciding when and how to check-in and gauge the success of the strategy; making sure that what is being implemented is working or failing and coming up with ways to find out how to measure any needed changes.
In building your strategy, it’s always wise to check on these stages and understand how, why and whether or not the strategy is working for your business in the best possible way. Strategy isn’t as clear-cut as it may seem and taking the necessary steps to ensure that it’s suitable and working well is very important to any business owner, leader or entrepreneur.
What’s that? You want more?
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