In part 1 of this five part series I plotted out what I’m calling the seven part corporate narrative –
Seven Part Corporate Narrative
This post tackles the central element: Strategy. But what, in this model, is strategy? It is a ‘plan of action’. Not just a plan, not just a series of things happening but both.
For the ‘plan’ part it should include targets and how each target will be met.
The plan should also include some kind of vision – which needs to be simple and easy to communicate as it is at the apex of what the company actually does – the strategic vision. Its easy to get wrapped up with strategy. The thing is it won’t happen if the six other elements in the model are not clear.
It feels like almost every company today says something like ‘we want to be the largest company in sector x’ as their strategic vision. This on it’s own is completely abstract – without taking into account culture, financial stability, business model and the company’s social purpose you have simply a theory that does not differentiate your plan (everyone wants to be the biggest and the best, but to what end? It begs the question why? if it is just to maximise shareholder return, IMHO your are not on a path to maximising shareholder return over the long-term). And of course, these four elements mean nothing without a brand and a clear context.
Strategy has an identity crisis mainly because it is the point where thinking turns into action. It encapsulates thinking.
But MORE IMPORTANTLY it needs to incite action – and by this I mean it needs to gain the attention and maintain the attention of the people who need to do something about it (and also those who need to see something happening). All ACTION should come from strategy. The idea that strategy is fixed from the moment it is created and agreed is nuts. So I guess the challenge is to update on the progress of the strategy. And this is where the narrative over time comes in. Does the action meet the plan? (Hint: it never does) So, what is actually happening and how is the plan changing in light of real world application?
What else does strategy need to do?