Strategy or Plan?


Introducing our four step strategy management process

Strategy definition is broad. I refer to strategy as follows:

  • Strategy is a plan of action to achieve a long-term goal or desired end result for your business.

  • It is mostly about winning and differentiating your business from competitors.

  • It ensures the long-term viability of your business through sustainable competitive advantage.

  • To sum up, strategy is about finding your 'competitive advantage' and then using it to 'win'.

There are many different approaches to strategy and there’s a great deal of debate about the best way of developing one. A lot depends on the type of business you’re in and whether you need a strategy for your organization as a whole or for a business unit. Our four step strategy management process is depicted on figure 1. The aim of the process is to indicate that strategy has at least three dimensions. Strategy analysis (Imagine) which in most cases influence the why business or organization exists. It focuses on the analysis of the changing market/industry, economic environment and the business operating environment, for example, how is, and should the strategy be analysed and imagined. This leads to the second dimension, which is the strategy formulation (Invent), for example what type of strategy or strategies should the business implement. Based on these two dimensions, strategy is concerned with the future direction of the business. The plan is essential to enable the business to achieve its future goals.

Figure 1 Strategy management process

It’s important to first identify the strategic issues or opportunities within the context of the business environment. We are living in VUCA days, where in fact the local, regional and global markets are volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Different factors contribute to this, for example, technology advancement, political uncertainty, accelerated change, social issues, climate change, to name a few. Once the strategic issues or opportunities are understood, relevant analysis tools can be used to develop a strategic plan for the business. Two key points to highlight, good data is essential for analysis and the art lies in the interpretation of data. The third dimension of strategy is execution (Ignite). Based on my experience, some strategies or programmes fail in execution. They fail because they were enacted for the wrong reasons, inadequate support from management or employees, lack of resource capacity and capabilities etc. This means, you can have the best strategy or plan on paper; if it’s not implemented properly it will eventually fail. Both management and employees play a key role in driving the strategic change execution. Our four step strategy management process applies to new and established businesses:

New business:

  1. Imagine

  2. Invent

  3. Ignite

  4. Measure

Established business:

  1. Re-imagine

  2. Re-invent

  3. Re-ignite

  4. Measure

The strategic management thinker Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”. It’s important to review and measure progress of your strategy journey on a regular basis. This should be done to make sure the business is still on track and existing or new challenges are addressed.

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