From Strategic Roadmaps to Strategic GPS

“Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now."

Gone are the days when a strategic plan could be relied upon to last five years. Even for centrally planned economies that is fast becoming impossible. For a business it is suicide.

Gone is the strategic roadmap – we now need a strategic GPS. We should not have to compromise on our long term strategic goals but almost inevitably we’ll meet obstacles in our path requiring a significant shift in approach.

Why do we wait a whole year to review our plans? And who in their wisdom has decided the world starts again in July? Why should next year inevitably be this year plus 5%?

Budgets serve a purpose, albeit in the twenty teens an increasingly tenuous one. They allow a cascade of cost control and, for the more sophisticated, an element of profit control. But the word is control. Budgets never lead, they don’t have life, they don’t describe the battlefield and the weapons. They are detailed and by definition, wrong. They contribute nothing to strategy.

Great strategy is Joined-Up. That means the business Brand is a combination of core values and the product or service offer. People behave in accordance with the core values and the designed business model. And the financial results are derived from ensuring the business model fully reflects the value proposition of the product or service offer.

The consequence of this is that strategy, especially in the early stages is iterative not linear. You need to go round a few times, do some sanity checks – ensure the Brand and the operational model and the product are consistent. And in all but the smallest of companies, its about ensuring the management team “Get it”and own the process. Patrick Lencioni in his book “the Five Temptations of a CEO” describes the Third Temptation as “Preferring Certainty over Clarity”.  Avoid the detail, stand back.

So when should business strategy be formulated? The first answer is “as far away from the budgeting process as possible”. The second answer is “frequently”and third answer is “Start Now”.

With the financial year just two months away, there is still time to plan a new year strategy process, align the management team, share some common purpose and make this financial year the best one yet!