The power of one
Strategy in a sentence
Most organisations have a lot going on. What I observe in most is that there seems to be no guiding light or compass. This is strategy.
Of course many organisations have strategic plans. Mostly they make interesting reading and yet rarely get executed. You’ll find them on a shelf somewhere gathering dust.
I have had to read 100’s of strategic plans over my three decades as a business advisor and mentor, and for a few years I helped to create them.
In the past thirteen years I have partnered with my clients to separate determining strategy from the plans to execute it. I agree with Alan Weiss that strategic planning is an oxymoron!
The great writer Ernest Hemingway thought the following were six of his best words: For Sale: Baby shoes, Never worn.
Inspired by Hemingway, my friend and colleague Kwai Yu, founder of Leaders Cafe, asked the following question on a LinkedIn discussion: Who are you? Could you tell the story of you in six words?
Kwai received hundreds of extraordinary responses which inspired me to think about a way I could best teach people about strategy! Hence my change of modis operandi.
I now work with my clients to help them describe their strategy in 6 words, at the most in a sentence.
Could you describe your strategy in 6 words?
Strategy is the reference point from which we make all decisions about our future direction. It is the guiding light. Tactics are about the what, who, and when. We confuse them at our peril, and to have tactics with no clear strategy means we are going somewhere, however most likely not to the place we really want to go.
My own strategy in a sentence is: "Giving full attention to relationships and allowing outcomes to be a natural consequence."
This guides everything I do. I consider strategy to be the compass that guides our decisions and execution the map.
Imagine if you asked your employees: What is the company’s strategy for moving forward?
And they could give an answer in a sentence that they believe in!
And imagine too if they had their piece of the execution map on one page.
Take your team aside for 20 minutes and ask them to write your strategy in a sentence, compare their insights and then together create your one sentence.
If you’d like some help please give me a shout. My number is +61 418 807 898.
I'm one of the pioneers of Plan's-on-a-page.
I swear by them as one of the most magnificent tools there are to help us to take action, sustain momentum, and achieve what's important to us. They are a key conversation focusing tool.
I first created a plan-on-a-page in my notebook with a trusted direct report in August 1989. I called it a Performance Possibility plan-on-a-page.
I had 24 direct reports at the time in multiple locations and 1000’s of mile apart! My deep desire was to find a way to keep everyone on the same page collectively and in individual locations.
People started calling them PPP’s and this label is still used by many of my clients today!
Plans-on-a-page or PPP’s are a remarkable way to
1) Keep focused personally, for a team, for an organisation.
2) Help you and others (particularly those people to whom you have promised to deliver value) to be accountable.
3) Sustain a shared-view with your performance possibility partners (colleagues, mentors) and possibility peers in areas you have agreed are significant. More on partners and peers in next weeks videos, podcasts and blog posts.
4) Own your piece of the execution quilt or jigsaw.
5) Capture in one place the quantum leaps (small yet significant shifts) you’re taking to move from current reality to possibility (your next reality!).
One of my most prized possessions is a small quilt my Grandmother Ruby Sherriff made over 50 years ago. I have wonderful memories of her and husband Fred. They lived less than a mile from me when I was a boy and so I was a frequent visitor to their house.
A vivid memory is Nana making quilts. There'd be a piece here and another over there etc and then one day it would magically come together as one and yet each individual piece stood out.
Little did I know then that Nana's quilts would many years later inspire a remarkable idea.
In business strategy is like a compass and execution a map. For your strategy to be executed every employee needs their unique piece of the map. I call it a quilt map. Performance Possibility Plans (PPPs) are an individuals piece of the quilt.
Visual plans-on-a-page work best. My latest PPP is below. I hope it inspires you to create your own PPP.
If I can be of assistance please give me a shout.
Become the wise leader you want to be.