"Strategery" was a word originally coined by WIll Ferrell during a sketch on Saturday Night Live back in October of 2000. The sketch satirized the performances of the two presidential candidates at the time, George W. Bush and Al Gore. Will Ferrell played Bush and used the word "strategery" when asked by a mock debate moderator to summarize "the best argument for his campaign", thus satirizing Bush's reputation for mispronouncing words.
While this was entirely fictional, I sometimes wonder if it wasn’t much of a stretch from reality. The word “strategy” is often mischaracterized and associated with far too many unnecessary and complicated explanations. So, what is the definition of strategy? The truth is, how strategy is defined does not matter. What does matter however, is how it is interpreted and applied. Strategy, is subjective. To me, strategy is synonymous with choice. In other words, what do you focus on versus what not to do? Yes, it really is that simple. This isn’t something I dreamed up. Rather, this is an overly simplistic way to summarize how Michael Porter describes strategy.
In case you are not familiar with Porter, he is the founder of the modern strategy field as well as one of the world’s most influential thinkers on management and competitiveness. Michael Porter is the author of 19 books and over 125 articles. He is the Bishop William Lawrence University Professor at Harvard Business School, and the Director of the school’s Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness. So yes, I think this qualifies Mr. Porter as someone who knows something about strategy.
While the definition of strategy is incredibly simple, I find the biggest challenge our clients face is setting the right strategy. Here are just a few tips if you are working on your 2017 strategy.
Keep It Simple: This is always my #1 rule. A strategy should be clearly stated, leaving no room for interpretation. Everyone in your organization should be able to understand it. More importantly, a good strategy should be traceable to every role. Every employee should be able to translate the business strategy into their day-to-day efforts.
Use Pareto’s Principles: Just as the principle suggests, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Where do you expect to get the biggest bang for your buck? I find my most successful clients tend to focus on 2-3 initiatives per year. These initiatives should certainly have a direct and quantifiable link to your end goals, but they should also have tentacles to every function within your organization.
Establish Building Blocks: The quest to achieve any multi-year goal typically requires a broad and ambitious plan. For example, let’s assume you’ve identified a number of strategic initiatives to accomplish a 3 year goal. Rather than tackling them all at once, it will be important to properly sequence those initiatives over the 3 year term. Year 1 would represent your “foundational” initiatives, whereas years 2 and 3 would compliment your base efforts. Careful coordination will be required to link predecessor initiatives and interdependencies.
We hope this helps clarify the often ambiguous nature of strategy. As always, let us know what you think. We are interested to hear your definition, and perhaps what guiding principles you use to implement strategy. Please share any insight or lessons learned that you feel would help the Beatha community.