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Strategy And Research 3 of 5

In previous blogs about the marketing journey I wrote about:

  • Personal vision and mission – the need for a business owner to have a clear idea of what they want from life in order to build a business that serves these needs.
  • Mission, Vision and Values – the creation of a worthwhile long term or overall aim as well as the inspiring values that a business lives by in achieving these aims.

traffic-sign-562574 640 June 18This blog is about Strategy, which is defined as, “A plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim”. It comes from the Greek root στρατηγία stratēgia, “art of troop leader; office of general, command, generalship. Wikipedia defines this as a high level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty. Strategy is important because the resources available to achieve these goals are usually limited.

In business we always operate under conditions of uncertainty and limited resources so having a plan to make the most of the resources we have to achieve our goals is critical to success.

A strategy needs to be periodically reviewed in the light of our mission, vision and values and communicated to our team or teams in clear and uncertain terms.

Usually our most important resource is people and the art of getting people to pull in the same direction is critical because the opposite – people pulling in separate directions – is an appalling, expensive and unthinkable waste of effort and time.

Merely dictating a strategy is dangerous in business however.  Intelligent people like to be consulted and have their voices heard in the ongoing formation of strategy. Strategy that is co-owned by those responsible for implementation is far more powerful than strategy dictated by generals far behind the lines.

2000px-Tug of war pictogram.sv June 18The leader who sits in an ivory tower and ignores this principle risks alienating their own teams, resulting in people forming their own mini-strategies, pulling in different directions and creating political in-fighting rather than cohesion.

Rowan Atkinson as Captain Blackadder illustrated beautifully the total disconnect between those at the front line and those responsible for strategy from a distance behind the lines in the hysterical (and ultimately extremely poignant) Blackadder goes Forth TV series.

As in battle, allies can be a great source of strategic input as well. Where common goals exist synergistic co-operation can multiply the resources available. Allies in business may be suppliers and non-Exec Directors as well as customers.

In order to make great decisions, a leader must seek not only the opinions of his team and consult allies but also have reliable intelligence upon which to base decisions. Military and political battles are never fought without this key element and few would argue that accurate information is an essential element of good decision making.

In the early days a business often relies completely on an entrepreneurial gut feeling or hunch, backed with passion. It is this belief that carries it through the critical first phase of business. As a business grows and matures and the landscape around it evolves, there comes a time for more structured decision making.

Often it is said that those entrepreneurs who are so gifted at getting start-ups off the ground are the wrong people to guide a mature business. One of the reasons for this is that they often find it difficult to transition from the passionate entrepreneur to the corporate manager.

3D Team Leadership Arrow Concept Jun 18The gung-ho leader of an elite commando unit often exhibits admirable bravery and is often a huge risk taker but the commander of a large army has a much bigger picture to manage and must pay as much attention to supply lines and logistics as bravery. They spend their day evaluating information from their teams and co-ordinating movements of troops and supporting teams. The skill sets required are very different.

Strategy and guesswork are not happy bedfellows so strategy needs to be informed by research and this research can take many forms.

As our business grows, marketing research becomes ever more important. An independent, unbiased, third party view of the market, the players, the trends, the gaps and the opportunities can be invaluable. It’s like being a general with observation satellites rather than an outdated map.

As growing businesses transition from an elite commando unit to a larger army, the stakes get higher, the decisions become more critical and the need for well communicated, coherent, co-created strategy,  backed up by research grows.

You can read other Intergage’s blogs here.

If you would like to find out how Intergage can help your business, then please get in touch with Sam Fish on 0845 456 1022, alternatively please contact us.

A strategy needs to be periodically reviewed in the light of our mission, vision and values and communicated to our team or teams in clear and uncertain terms.

Usually our most important resource is people and the art of getting people to pull in the same direction is critical because the opposite – people pulling in separate directions – is an appalling, expensive and unthinkable waste of effort and time.

Merely dictating a strategy is dangerous in business however.  Intelligent people like to be consulted and have their voices heard in the ongoing formation of strategy. Strategy that is co-owned by those responsible for implementation is far more powerful than strategy dictated by generals far behind the lines.

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