The Who, What, and How of Strategy
What is a Strategy and Why is It Important?
A strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve a specific goal. In business, a strategy can determine the long-term direction of the company. A good strategy will answer questions such as "What are we trying to accomplish?" and "How are we going to do it?" Strategies are often created through an analysis of your organization's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Organizations may also develop strategies based on their analysis of the latest industry trends and changes in customer expectations.
Sometimes developing a successful strategy can be a time-consuming process. It's important to think about where you are currently, what your goals are, and how you want to get there.
What Makes a Good Strategy?
Business strategies are the driving force of a company's success. They are the main blueprint for every business. Without a strategy, a business will not be able to succeed in any endeavor.
A good strategy is one that is tested and proven to work, both in theory and in practice. It has to be versatile and able to adapt to market changes and trends. It also needs to be simple and clear so that it can be easily communicated and implemented by all levels of management and employees of the company, as well as any other stakeholders that might need to know about it.
The notion of strategy
The strategy has three essential elements: development, implementation, and selling. One of the most important elements in a strategy for a company is to choose a 'position' on three key dimensions:
Whom to target as customers (and whom to avoid targeting)
What products to offer
How to undertake related activities efficiently.
Remember, a strategy is not what your customers want, it's what your competitors allow you. - Rajiv Bajaj, MD Bajaj Auto
Strategy is an art. It takes more than just having a good idea to be successful. It's about making tough decisions on who, what, and how to do something. It means deciding who you will target and not target, what your business will provide and how to provide it most effectively Note that strategy is not just about money or power, it's about using your strengths to achieve your goals.
A successful strategy involves not only choosing which products to offer but also what features to emphasize. You have to know what your product or service is and what your customer needs. It means picking the right activities you'll use when trying to sell these products to the targeted customers.
Key points to focus on to ensure successful strategy
Develop a unique strategy to create a distinct position. The key to this is to focus on who your customers are, the value proposition you offer them, and how you can efficiently do this.
Take bold, hard decisions. For a strategy to be distinctive and meaningful, hard choices must be made and then these choices must be combined in a system of activities that are self-reinforcing. The most common errors are: allowing incentives in the system that allow people to ignore choices; seeking growth in a way that obstructs the formulation of strategy, causing analysis paralysis.
Values and incentives are key factors. Specifically, your organization's behaviors are rooted in the underlying environment. The underlying environment is determined by the organization's culture and values, measurement and incentives, people, structure, and processes.
Ensure people are emotionally committed to the strategy. A strategy must have an emotional commitment from those involved. Leaders can make a difference in how people feel about a strategy. They can do this by going on the front line and showing their own commitment. The key to successful strategy implementation is not simply developing a strategy and telling people what to do, but engaging their emotional commitment. People will be emotionally committed if they believe that the plan is relevant, has high personal significance, and they have significant input into its success.
Don't confuse understanding with communicating. Describe why the strategy matters to the organization and to the individual.
There is a wide knowledge-practice gap in the professional world. People have a tendency to do what is urgent and not what is important. Though this may be human nature, it can result in being less successful than one might be otherwise.
Do not believe that 'strategic' means important. The word is often incorrectly used to describe or explain an important idea. Another mistaken view is that only top management can develop the strategy. Everybody can contribute an idea, anytime, anywhere.
Flexibility is key. The usefulness of an idea is limited - not eternal. Be sure to answer the 'who-what-how' questions. The strategy does not have to be changed too often, but sometimes it will need to be adjusted to suit external circumstances. You should give your employees the freedom to respond and to adjust without needing permission or instructions.
Here are 4 examples of successful strategies implemented by Rajiv Bajaj for Bajaj Auto
Refer to this article: Strategic Management Lessons that we all can learn from Rajiv Bajaj
Less is more, narrow your focus
A market challenger should adopt an offensive strategy by doing the opposite of the market leader.
A market leader has to only defend the position by simply raising the bar.
Improve your analysis by examining external factors before looking at internal ones.
Concluding thoughts on Strategy
To conclude - Strategic thinkers are not born, they are made. A strategic thinker is an individual who can see the bigger picture and make decisions accordingly. A strategic thinker has a set of skills that can be developed by anyone who is willing to work on it. Some of these skills include:
Awareness - The ability to detect and analyze new trends and opportunities as they arise
Creativity - The ability to think of new ideas or different ways of doing things
Decision-making - The ability to come up with possible solutions for a problem