Setting your strategy

    We would recommend  reading Chapter 7 in Jim Collins’ Beyond Entrepreneurship

    Once you have a vision, you need to move from an emotional Why to a more concrete how.

    At my previous company, our why is to support people in the discovery of knowledge so that they make great decisions. This mission statement guided every decision made.


    Strategy follows vision

    Underneath the vision are the strategic goals, which are tangible objectives that take you a step closer to your vision.

    Think of goals are the mountains that you climb and the vision as the North Star. You can climb the mountain and get a little closer to the North Star but there will always be another mountain in front of you.

    A good goal/strategy should be:

    • Tangible and achievable
    • Achieving them will bring you closer to the vision
    • Should be at least a year in length


    A step by step guide to setting strategy

    1. Review the vision of the company - Is it totally clear?

    If the leadership team isn't fully bought into the vision, then start with a Why Discovery


    2. Do an internal assessment of the company’s capabilities

    1. Strengths and weakness:
      • Build a clear picture of your company's strengths and blind spots. To ensure you're being objective, ask the same question to your mid-level colleagues and a few trusted clients.
      • Ask the question “What are we better at than anyone else?” - stick to what you can do better than other companies. Why should Gucci make cheap socks? Why should a linebacker become an ice-skating champion?

    2. Resources 
      • This could be anything from cash, stock, and resources, to people. Anything that creates a limit to what you can achieve. If your strategy involves a £5m software implementation and you only have £2m in the bank, it's probably not a viable strategy.

    3. Innovations and new ideas (internal and external!)
      • What are the innovations currently coming through the pipe? How could strategy adjust to maximise the potential of this creative output?
      • What new innovations, ideas and ways of work are showing success?
      • For smaller companies, strategy is built from innovation. Once you have got to product market fit, innovation is built from strategy.

    3. Conduct an external Assessment

    1. Industry/market trends
      • How are your markets segmented?
      • Which segments do you compete in?
      • What is the growth rate for these trends?
      • What are customers saying about evolving needs? How well are you meeting their needs?

    2.  Tech trends - this could be tech you could use as well as tech you could repackage and sell.

    3. Competitors - What are they doing well? Where are they focusing? Don't poo-poo up and comers, because you were once in their position - look at you now!

    4. Regulatory environment if applicable

    5. Macroeconomy

    6. International threats and opportunities

    7. Overall threats and opportunities
      • Ask a selected group of mid-levels and objective outsiders, to list the top 3 opportunities and top 3 threats
      • It’s paramount to do everything possible to see reality, how things really are and not the way they were
      • Great companies have leaders who relentlessly seek the truth and confront the brutal facts because reality will always make itself known
      • Surround yourself with people who tell it like it is. Telling the truth can be politically dangerous.
      • Never punish people for telling the truth


    4. Make key decisions on how you intend to go about achieving your mission (mapping the route up the mountain)

    With your vision set and an understanding of the dynamics inside your company as well as outside, it's time to think of some large annual or multi-year projects that will bring you closer to your vision. 

    There are three main types of strategies which are as follows

    1. Where to place big bets? - eg. a new product launch
    2. How to protect flanks? - eg. a pricing strategy that keeps out the competition
    3. How to extend victories? - eg. delivering your core product 20% faster.