Strategy never happens in a straight line. It’s a journey filled with zigs and zags and fateful decisions. If it’s easy or fast, or is magically generated from a template, it’s probably not strategy.
Leaders who take this work seriously understand the existential nature of strategy. It sets the trajectory of a firm and propels every subsequent decision.
Most management teams struggle with strategy work.
They dance around the subject and play with a few of the tools, but never actually do the hard work necessary to create power and value in their markets. They dance with strategy as an exercise in current state resource allocation between competing powers.
In reality, they should be stripping away their preconceived notions and rethinking everything about their business, the audiences they serve and the methods they choose to compete and serve with.
As I said, it is work that calls into question the very existence of the firm.
Some teams get it right. When I’ve worked with those teams, what you see and hear and observe feels like trust, diligence, passion, respect, tenacity and commitment.
They trust each other enough to let down their political defenses and focus on what’s right for the firm.
They understand that diligence is required to accurately assess their situation. They do the work before they espouse their positions.
They argue passionately for their perspectives. Sometimes passion sounds a bit like fighting.
The respect for each other is reflected in the fighting over the ideas, not over the people bearing the ideas.
They are tenacious and keep plowing through the fog of strategy because they know they must.
And finally, when the choices are made and the dust settles, regardless of prior opinions, they go forth with arms linked and do what they committed to doing.
It’s never a straight line. It’s always an adventure.