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Continuing my theme of testing and explaining your strategy, a short article with a simple idea…

Strategy needs an argument (in both senses)

In the last article I explained that strategy needs an argument, a logical structure that explain it, using a strategy tablet framework. The idea is that you only have a complete strategy, when you have all the six pieces.  As a reminder the six pieces are:

  1. Scope: What is the scope of the topic?
  2. Situation: What is going on?  And the underlying causes?
  3. Diagnosis: What is our diagnosis/framing of the problem? (Possibly the most critical piece)
  4. Chosen strategy/policy: Given this, what is our chosen policy/strategy/approach?
  5. Actions: The coherent actions that support this strategy and address the underlying issues.
  6. Learning: How do we govern and manage this, so we learn from it.

Richard Rumelt (McKinsey call him Strategy’s strategist) says, ‘Strategy does not exist without action’ and ‘those actions should be coherent with the diagnosis of the situation and the chosen policy’. 

Actions, decisions, and the strategy that frames them

However, we know that actions are preceded by decisions.  Therefore, in part five you also need coherent decisions.  This leads to two distinct, but related, questions about how well you explain your strategy:

  1. Decisions within the strategy: When you look at the decisions within your published, or explained, strategy, are they all consistent with the diagnosis and chosen strategy/policy/approach?
  1. Future decisions: Strategies persist for a period and you won’t (and probably can’t) decide everything at the start.  People will have to make further decisions along the way.  So, your strategy should inform those forthcoming decisions. 

The first question is pretty obvious.  The second question about future decisions is more important.  The explanation of your strategy should be so clear, that it frames and guides peoples’ future decisions.  The making and taking of decisions is clearly framed. (See my Six Step Decision Model).

How do you socialise your strategy so it frames peoples’ decisions?

It also means that an acid test of how you socialise your strategy, is whether you are doing it in a way that will help people make subsequent decisions to implement the strategy.  (See my material on Socialising Strategy)

So, the question to reflect on: Are you explaining (socialising) your strategy so it will frame the future decisions your people will be making?