How Do You Define Your Strategy?

Monte Wyatt & Brad Sugars, Jan 28, 2020

A clear strategy provides a vibrant picture of what winning looks like for a company, and every department and every position. It identifies who is doing what to achieve which goal 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 you want your team to implement your organization's strategy continually and consistently to succeed, everyone must be able to state the company strategy in a single, concise sentence.

Why is that? Because when the strategy is 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 your company means that it's upmost in everyone's mind. This makes it easier for it to be the focus of everything your company does.

How do you know if your strategy is clear? Every employee should be able to state it in a single sentence. Let’s look at a few examples that illustrate this.

"Wheels up." This is the one-sentence strategy that Southwest Airlines uses to remind everyone that the airline is making money only when its planes are flying. Everyone strives to keep the fleet on the ground for as short a time as possible. Pilots and attendants work with ground crew to clean planes between flights. Passengers fill the plane as quickly as getting on a bus line, since there are no seat assignments and. The airline has only one type of aircraft, making it easier on the crew to maintain.

As a result of sticking to this memorable one-sentence strategy, Southwest has been profitable for over 44 years in a row.

"Flat-pack furniture." This is the one-sentence strategy that has helped make IKEA one of the world's leading retailers and manufacturers of furniture. Its flat-packed furniture ships cheaply, so it can provide a wide range of well-designed and functional home furnishings at low prices.

"It's not about the servers, it's about the support." Rackspace, the managed cloud computing company, realized its service provides more differentiation than its technology.

"Be direct." Dell Computer focused on direct computer sales to you, without a middleman.

So, how do you go about creating a memorable one-sentence strategy? Here are a few steps.

  • Determine your goals.
  • Determine your audience.
  • Determine the action.
  • Determine your marketplace.

Then, collaborate. Work with the entire team to develop ideas that unlock creativity, foster engagement, and energize your organization.

To recap, for your organization's strategy to succeed continually and consistently, everyone must be able to state the company strategy in a single, concise sentence.

We'd love to hear from you. Do you know of other memorable one-sentence strategies? What are they? Thank you for sharing.