What is a good strategy?

A good strategy will: state a clear description of the problem; define your approach to address this problem; and be credible and execution ready. Writes Andrew Pollard

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Lack of a written strategy leads to a lack of focus. Rather than develop propositions that truly fits with customer needs and market trends, businesses become reactive, chasing all opportunities without any logical way to set priorities.

Even in small firms, individuals build business silos to focus on areas which they believe are beneficial. In the short term this can work and appear profitable. But in the long run such tactical wins are hard to build and sustain. We have seen many cases where opportunist investments that lack a strategic fit have become financial and regulatory burdens. The organisation becomes forced to invest in maintaining a product or platform which cannot be scaled enough to be profitable or spend effort and money dismantling it.

For strategy to be effective it must come from within the business. You need to believe it, understand it and own it, and it needs to align to your values and purpose. But creating a strategy is hard, and even more difficult on your own – we are often too close to our own business, so struggle to be objective or create new ideas.

If you google “strategy” you will quickly learn that Apple has a fantastic strategy, Kodak had a terrible strategy and that you too can have a strategy by downloading a template. That might be interesting if you were signed up to an MBA course, but it is hardly practical. No matter how many templates you complete, how can you know if they are any good? You may end up with several half-completed templates and a headache, or a few grand sentences that have no practical use. A good strategy is not something you can get from a template. There is no magic formula, because a strategy is personal and relevant to each business, so has to be built from within, not by filling out an external form.