The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” – Michael E. Porter
By Milton Kamwendo
Strategy in its simplest form is your crystallised thought about your business and how you intent to contend for space in the market place. I am a student of strategy and I spend many hours every year working with clients from different industries on their strategies and reviewing the progress of their plans. The essence of strategy is not merely complex textbook analysis but simplicity. You do not really understand what you are doing until you can simplify it in your mind.
What is your winning aspiration?
It is not enough to play, the keystone of strategy is to win in the market place. You have to be clear about the meaning of winning to you. What will winning look like? What are your goals? Where do you want to cut your opponent? Clear goals drive resolute action.
In the Book of Five Rings, the great warrior, Miyamoto Musashi says,
“The primary thing when you take a sword in your hands is your intention to cut the enemy, whatever the means. Whenever you parry, hit, spring, strike or touch the enemy’s cutting sword, you must cut the enemy in the same movement. It is essential to attain this. If you think only of hitting, springing, striking or touching the enemy, you will not be able actually to cut him.”
In strategy the key is not just to tread along but to execute a winning strategy. Your winning aspiration must be clear. Your goals must be certain and clear. Double talk is not for strategists but idle babblers.
Not all territory is contested territory. It is helpful to define the battlefield. Fighting on all fronts is the key to losing. Strategy is not only a definition of what you will do. It is also a clear definition of what you will not do. Where you will pitch the battle determines how you will fight.
In determining your battle ground you need to define the market segments you will play in. If you do not decide you will be forced to play in an arena where you are irrelevant. Define the geographical spaces in which you will play to win. Trying to be everywhere if you do not have the resources will see you coming home with your tail between your legs. If you have little resources, focus your effort. If you have abundant resources choose where you will play wisely.
You may also need to look at your industry space and consider some vertical integration options. You may decide to go up the chain or move further down. It is all part of the strategy game. Where you will play is an important strategy consideration worth your attention.
How you will you win?
Merely playing in the marketplace with a gun loaded with hope and little else is neither courage nor strategy. It is important to define how you intend to win. How will you play? You cannot let fate answer that question unless you are insane.
The great military strategist,
Sun Tzu said:
“If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.”
This my friend, is strategy in motion.
If you do not decide how you will win, you will discover in due course how it was decided that you should lose. In crafting strategy you should never forget that your competition is not sitting idle waiting for you to act. Your weaknesses are your competition’s greatest opportunity. Whatever you do, do not stop moving forward.
What capabilities must be in place?
Once you have decided where you will play and how you will win you need to be honest with yourself and take an inventory of your abilities. What abilities must be in place for you to win? You need to decide how you will get these capabilities. Knowing the capabilities that you require is the first and crucial step.
How Will You Manage It All?
Strategy and leadership are inseparable Once you have articulated your strategy, it is important to spare time to ask a few management questions. What management systems and practices do you need to put in place to ensure that your strategy works? Great leaders think about management; great managers think about leadership all the time.
Is your strategy in place already? Then get on with the relentless and never-say-die execution. Is your strategy now stale, refresh it, quickly. Is your strategy non-existent, then go ahead and put one in place. If you need help a good facilitator can help you. By all means act strategically if you want to win.
Committed to your greatness.
Twitter # MiltonKamwendo