One of the 5 Disciplines for Exponential Growth is the Discipline of Strategy. 

Your overall business strategy is how you articulate the way you do business. It consists of two parts: where you want to go and the roadmap that gets you there. Every company is different, so every business strategy is different. The important thing is that your plan is appropriately designed to achieve the goals you’ve set.

Most businesses have built their business models around a product. As a result, they don’t have sustainable strategies for their companies: if their product starts to falter in the marketplace, they can’t recover (see BlackBerry). These companies believe that the sales strength of their products proves they have successful strategies, but the truth is their strategies are for their products, not for their companies. 

Strategy is not about products. Strategy is about skillful management that attains an end. And that end is more than margin, profit, or revenue — it’s sustainability: your business outlasting your competition and, ultimately, you. We call this winning.

Winning, or ensuring sustainability, is one of the prime duties of senior management of any organization. Winning becomes a lot easier when leaders have a clear strategy to guide their decision-making process because a clear strategy defines how an organization will win.

A clear strategy provides a vibrant picture of what winning looks like for the company, every department, and every position. It identifies who is doing what to achieve which goal and by when. Without a clear strategy:

  • there’s no clear direction for the company, so you can’t achieve the growth needed for your goals;
  • there’s no commitment or buy-in from the team, so you can’t attract and retain great people;
  • there’s no business model to drive the organization, so business development becomes a struggle;
  • the business is very reactive, so profit is inconsistent or non-existent.

If the team is to continually and consistently implement the company’s strategy to succeed, it is critical that everyone can state the company’s strategy in a single concise sentence. When the strategy’s clear, everyone instantly understands it. When it’s a single sentence, it’s easy to remember, repeat, and talk about. A concise strategy that’s continuously present within the company means that it’s first and foremost in everyone’s mind, making it easier to make it the focus of everything the company does. 

How do you know if your strategy is clear? Every employee should be able to state it in a single sentence. A good corporate strategy indicates how the company is going to win. 

Here are several steps to take before you can define a corporate strategy:

  • How is the company responding to existing opportunities in the market? 
  • How is the company expanding in the marketplace?
  • Is the company making full use of its leverage? 
  • Does the company have access to the right markets?

These questions come from the four components of the Discipline of Strategy: opportunity, scalability, leverage, and marketability. You need to be able to identify where you are in each of these in order to craft a winning strategy.  

For example, Southwest Airlines’ single-sentence strategy is wheels up, a reminder that the company is only making money when its planes are in the air. Everyone works to keep the fleet on the ground for as short a time as possible. Pilots and attendants work with the ground crew to clean planes between flights. Passengers line up with no seat assignments and fill the plane as quickly as getting on a bus. All their planes are Boeing 737s, so crews and staff have to know only one type of aircraft. The answer to any questions is, does it get “wheels up”? 

To recap, strategy is about skillful management that attains an end, which is sustainability. Winning becomes easier when the company has a clear strategy to guide the decision-making process and define how the organization will win. To craft a winning strategy, you need to respond to existing opportunities, learn how to expand in the marketplace, and understand where you can leverage and access the right markets. 

What are some of the memorable strategies you’ve encountered in other businesses?  Contact me to learn how to implement a strategy in your organization that leads to exponential growth.  

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