BUSINESS STRATEGY DEVELOPMENT AND EXECUTION – A SMART GAME
Strategy comes from Greek ‘strategos’ meaning, the ‘art of the general’. The art. So, strategy is not mere planning or method.
Strategy is a ‘war’ term. And, business is being treated as ‘modern-day war’.
Strategy comes from Greek ‘strategos’ meaning, the ‘art of the general’. The art. So, strategy is not mere planning or method. But it is intelligent planning, planning with execution and planning which also talks of the ‘timing’ of execution.
Most businesses believe that strategy would be to plan to be a global company, or a low-cost provider, or being inclusive of regional demands, or to provide exemplary customer service, or be moving from one application or sector to another, or any such plan that sounds like an ultimate goal.
Does that imply then, that the goals one wants to achieve are business strategies? They may be the ‘basis’ for building a strategy but no, they are NOT strategies.
One may wonder how to figure out what are then. It gets simpler once we figure out what is ‘not’.
A business strategist should answer four central questions to build an ideal strategy for their business, according to the research by Dr David Kryscynski, a business scholar:
1. Where do we compete?
In other words, one needs to discover who their competitors in the market are to be, and in what arenas they will compete with each other.
2. What is the ‘uniqueness’ of our product?
One needs to have a unique selling point, something different from what is already available and accessible to people. The strategy should define that cutting edge, so it also answers why customers must choose them over others.
3. What are the resources that the business can resort to so that the customer receives that value?
The strategist needs to think upon whether they have enough technology, manpower, network, managers, or the rapport required to establish themselves in the market. The first four would be tangible, however, resources like the last one can be intangible, yet significant.
4. How is the ability of the business sustained for long?
The strategist needs to design a model that can be backed and can go on uninterrupted. The business needs to keep upgrading, the model needs to be as classic as it can endure to be for a legacy to come. The strategist could try to understand what those factors are which would contribute to ceaseless sustenance of the business.
Let us try to answer these questions for some of the biggest companies that are, well, shut down today. The makers of Blackberry lost 85% market shares, Nokia lost 85% of its shares, they were top in the competition, they had uniqueness and that made them sell, they had tangible and intangible resources, so three questions checked. However, they could not sustain themselves.
What, then, is the idea without the execution? Ideas are not enough. Most certainly, they are not going to lead the business anywhere in the long run, because sustenance will stem from ‘execution’.
It is not enough if the business is the ‘first mover’, it has to be a ‘fast mover’ too. Nokia, Blackberry, Kodak knew that there needs to be change. But change has to be seeded in the form of a business strategy. To grow into a tree with strong roots, it will need soil, water, air, sunlight, and even fertilisers to save it from decaying.
Efforts need to be translated into results and results into excellence. As it is said, mediocrity is a crime. The excellence of execution plays a pivotal role in expansion of a business.
But what is execution and how does one go about it?
The dictionary meaning says it is “carrying out the plan or course of action”. Strategies can be made by hiring the best of names in business. PwC, KPMG, Accenture, name them and you will have a business strategist working for you. But execution has to be done from within the organisation. It is not something that can be done externally or with external help.
While executing a plan, the business should take care of the following steps, as defined by the Motivational Speaker and business-pro Dr Vivek Bindra. He gives a 4-step formula for strategic execution and achieving excellence, which appropriately answers many questions:
1. Most Essential Goal
It is like pinning the dart in the centre, which cannot equal the player’s pinning the darts anywhere else on the board. The focus should be on the essential goal, the main objective of the company.
2. Effort Score and Result Score should be noted before proceeding
The executor should know what amount of effort they are to put and what the results they want to achieve are. This needs foresight and also, strategy should decide these scores for the executors.
3. Score Board
It is rightly said that “people play differently when they have a score board”. It is a race to win. If the enterprise decides to run the race, it has to do it with a score board, making observations of every athlete’s performance, rating itself for every step it takes. Employees when they feel they are winning or aspiring to win, review themselves and compete to become fast movers. Also, the numbers and targets are at the disposal of the executor.
4. Weekly Review Meeting
Reviewing steps and decision-making processes is essential. It is to upgrade strategy, to know where one stands after putting in the “effort score” for the week and getting the “result scores” in hand.
Developing the strategy and executing it is a game. People are proceeding with the idea of winning. There is seamless innovation and yet, there is only one first prize.
More often than not, the innovator is better than the originator. Bollywood has more revenue than Hollywood today. India exceeds England in being the cricket champion in the world.
Similarly, Nokia and Blackberry were ‘first’ movers but the others moved ‘faster’ than them and won the game. You may have started early, but the number of years will not matter unless the speed is maintained throughout the race.
To maintain the speed, one needs to upgrade, update, rejuvenate the strategy. Keep pressing the F5 button on it.
And, the finish line will be reached once the gunshot is fired. The executor has to fire the shot, and run according to the updated strategy.