Strategy is General, Action is Key!

– Jack Welch on “STRATEGY”


Writing about strategy for my first blog is fitting. Don’t you think? defines strategy as “A method or plan chosen to bring about a desired future, such as achievement of a goal or solution to a problem” and “The art and science of planning and marshalling resources for their most efficient and effective use. The term is derived from the Greek word for generalship or leading an army.”

The word ‘strategy’ in my mind is directly correlated with ‘action’. It is forward thinking; it is decisive; and it is communicated to the troops supporting you. It is NOT just an idea. I was in a meeting recently where the CEO was a little frustrated. He said “That’s fine. We have an end goal. But I’m interested in the tactics we will use to get there. No one has shown me HOW we will get there. I will take responsibility for that. I will commit to our weekly meetings. Let’s lay out the road map together, assign responsibility, and follow-up on progress.” In other words – “having an idea is NOT a strategy”. Ideas are simply goals. Planning the details and assigning accountability is how strategies are carried out and goals achieved. Strategy is vision with action. Strategy is endlessly implementing and adapting in order to achieve your goals.

In assessing the effectiveness of your strategic thinking, you should ask yourself:

  1. Have I laid out my two-year plan?
  2. Do I discuss my strategy with all of the people involved?
  3. Do I collect or have the necessary background information to make informed decisions? Am I looking objectively at the facts?
  4. Do I understand my competitive advantage?
  5. Do I accurately predict my customer’s requirements, needs and preferences?
  6. Can I state my customer’s up-to-date buying criteria?
  7. Do I regularly discuss internal business processes with my team?
  8. Do I communicate to the right people regarding their roles and responsibilities and the correlation to the overall strategy?
  9. Do I continuously hold team planning meetings?
  10. Do I regularly consult with my leadership team on strategy?
  11. Do I know if I’m meeting my sales target? Rather, do I have sales targets?
  12. Do I know the strengths and weaknesses of my team? Have I analyzed their ability to improve on weaknesses? Have I provided the resources to enable improvement?
  13. Have I assessed and prepared for threats to achieving my objectives?
  14. Are all teams leaders carrying out the strategy aligned? Are decisions made jointly or in a manner to keep all necessary members informed?
  15. Are day-to-day tasks and short-term problem solving taking precedence over long-term planning and objectives?

“In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement like hell. Strategy is an approximate course of action that you frequently revisit and redefine, according to shifting market conditions. It is an iterative process and not as theoretical as some would have you believe. When it comes to strategy, ponder less and do more.” – Jack Welch

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