If You Are "Implementing" Your Strategy -
You Don't Have One!

by Dov Gordon

90% of people believe they are better looking and funnier than average. And more than 90% of executives feel they are better than average strategists. Yet few truly understand strategy and its role in growing a business.

"What is the distinction between a strategy and a plan?" This is not a quibble over semantics any more than it would be to ask "What is the difference between a hammer and a screw driver?" All are tools, and they will only work for you to the degree that you can distinguish them.

Strategy is all about perception. You have a Strategy only after you've answered these two questions in depth:

  1. "Who precisely is my target market?" (Every organization has multiple target markets, so list each one.)

  2. "How does my target market need to perceive me, us, our organization in order to want to do business with us?" (Answer separately for each target market.)

A simple example: "Our strategy is to be an accounting firm known for helping our Fortune 1000 clients develop and execute powerful financial planning and monitoring systems. Our clients then feel free to focus on implementing their strategic plans."

Once your strategy is clear, it is time to create a plan. A plan is nothing but a series of tactics -- things you do to create the right perception in the minds of the right people, i.e., your strategic goals.

In our example our goal might be to create a perception in the minds of Fortune 1000 CEO's that when working with our accounting firm they will not only get tax advice and financial planning assistance, but we will also install sophisticated financial systems that will free up their key people to focus on what they are good at - growing their own business.

What can you do on a tactical level to create this perception? The options are endless, beginning with the quality of the work that you deliver and how you choose to deliver it and extending to myriad common and uncommon marketing and sales tactics. We need to choose the best tactics and form a plan.

It should now be clear that you never implement a strategy -- you implement tactics according to a plan that is built on a foundation of deep strategic understanding.

This is why if you are "implementing a strategy" you may not have one.

The Gordon Group's THOUGHT PROVOKER Questions:

1. The Cup of Coffee Exercise.

A client or customer of yours meets a friend for coffee. This friend is someone you'd like as a customer. Somehow your organization comes up in the conversation. What would the prospective customer have to hear in order to decide to call you up as soon as he gets back to the office?

Hint: It may not be what you want your client to say. It is what the prospect needs to hear in order to want to do business with you!

Dov Gordon is President of The Gordon Group, www.GordonGroupEC.com, a Management Consulting and Executive Coaching firm. He is also the author of the program “If You Are ‘Implementing’ Your Strategy – You Don’t Have One: A Simple Way to Control and Grow Your Business” located at www.Superior-Strategy.com.

Many more articles in Competitive Strategy in The CEO Refresher Archives


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