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In our hearts we know it when we see it. We are told that the organization is going to launch a bold new strategy. But in reality we see that what is being presented is just a new goal with a bow tied around it.
That’s why I enjoyed an article by Richard Rumelt titled, “The Perils of Bad Strategy.” Rumelt lays out the characteristics that point to a bad strategy and also the ingredients of a good strategy.
In sports, we see the impact of strategy played out in game situations right before our eyes. “Like a quarterback whose only advice to his teammates is ‘let’s win,’” Rumelt writes, “bad strategy covers up its failure to guide by embracing the language of broad goals, ambition, vision, and values.” All of these items have their place, but they should not be mistaken for a strategy.
On the other hand, a good strategy is when “a talented leader has identified the one or two critical issues in a situation - the pivot points that can multiply the effectiveness of effort- and then focused and concentrated action and resources on them. A good strategy does more than urge us forward toward a goal or vision; it honestly acknowledges the challenges we face and provides an approach to overcoming them.”
Rumelt gives three steps that are important to developing a real strategy that can make a difference:
1. A diagnosis: an explanation of the nature of the challenge. A good diagnosis simplifies the often-overwhelming complexity of reality by identifying certain aspects of the situation as being the critical ones.
2. A guiding policy: an overall approach chosen to cope with or overcome the obstacles identified in the diagnosis.
3. Coherent actions: steps that are coordinated with one another to support the accomplishment of the guiding policy.
As we start the New Year, take a look at the strategies that you have in place. Do they address the real problem or challenge your organization is facing? Is the strategy actionable? Does it provide a road map so each member of the team knows how to achieve the strategy? If not, now may be a good time to step back and re-evaluate your strategy.
Rossell is SVP at Marketing General Inc., Alexandria, Va. Contact him at “Membership Marketing Blog,” where this column appeared originally.