In my previous blog, we looked at the definition of strategy. We ended the blog with what strategy means to us:
“A plan that is agile and nimble which sets a measured course of action to deliver better outcomes than competitors through deploying resources which in turn delivers great outcomes for all stakeholders of the business”
To achieve this, the business requires someone to lead the development of the plan, understand the market/competitors, deploy resources and to measure the implementation of the plan. The business leader has several roles in the strategy development process. Before we explore this further, let me make the following statement:
The business leader (Chairman, CEO, MD, General Manager, Partners or sole owner) DOES NOT alone develop the strategic plan for the business.
Most leaders believe that it is their responsibility to set the strategy. Strategy development is best done in a multifunctional team, including the leader/general manager and, at a minimum, the heads of the various departments/functions in the business. This is known as the strategy group.
The strategy group should be a small group to ensure frank and productive discussion between the leader and senior peers. The idea is that the strategy group conduct their work jointly rather than delegating the work into the functional areas.
The role of the leader in the process is important. Once the strategy has been agreed upon by the strategy group and approved by the Board, the leader then undertakes the following key roles:
- Leads the process of choosing how the company will position itself in the market.
- Communicates the strategy to all stakeholders on an ongoing basis.
- Guides department/function leaders and assists them to translate the implementation plan for their employees and key areas of responsibility.
- Guides the team when there are changes or other trade-offs that may arise on a day-to-day basis.
The leader ensures daily that there is focus on the strategy. Strategy requires discipline to ensure that the goals and objectives of the business are achieved. Jack Welch (Former CEO – General Electric) says “Strategy is a living, breathing, totally dynamic game. It’s fun – and fast. And it is alive. Forget the scenario planning, yearlong studies, and 100-plus page reports that “gurus” suggest. They’re time consuming and expensive, and you just don’t need them. In real life, strategy is very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement like hell”
We agree with Jack and believe strategy should be agile and nimble. It should be simple and clear to everybody in the business. The leader plays a key role in executing a strategy that his team can own and implement.