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Big Strategy

Friday, December 8th, 2017

By Robert W. Bradford

Strategic Planning Expert
Robert W. Bradford

Every so often, someone will refer to something we’re talking about in the strategic planning process and say “That doesn’t seem very strategic”.  What does this mean?

In business strategy, we should be examining the big questions – What do we do?  For whom do we do it?  and How do we beat or avoid competition?  Great strategy always revolves around answering these questions in a way that drives your strategic competency to the forefront of your competitive situation, because creating value in a unique way is central to the long-term viability of any business.

In the real world, we often feel a strong urge to “wimp out” on these big questions.  While technology, global trends and the inevitable maturing and commoditization of markets make a bold choice necessary for many of us, we are often plagued by the nagging doubt that we might be making the wrong choice.  As a result, many companies fail to make any choice or to move out of the recipe that once worked for them – and so find themselves struggling more and more as the big forces turn their old recipe for success into a recipe for failure.

The concept of big strategy occurred to me after a string of great strategic planning meetings with a variety of large and small clients.  I saw that some team members, very naturally, got anxious about big choices – but ultimately an awareness of how we were likely to fare in the future helped to move them away from planning that was just “business as usual”.

There have been very few cases where it was easy to bring this realization to a team.  If the asteroid is hurtling towards us, even the dinosaurs can realize it’s about to get very difficult.  Unfortunately for many, by the time the dinosaurs SEE the asteroid, it’s far too late to do anything strategically to mitigate the impact.

One of the best tools for fostering this awareness is the industry scenario.  Properly done, it may scare people.  At the very least, it will get us to look outside of our current comfort zone.  For most of us, that’s where the real money is, anyway – not outside of our competency, but outside of our comfort zone.  If you want to be more strategic, and you think you need big strategy to be successful in the future, pay attention to the discomfort that comes up when examining your industry scenario and winner’s profile.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has done this – are you in a radically different place than you were ten years ago?  How did YOU get past that discomfort?

Do you feel uncomfortable when examining your industry scenario and winner’s profile?  Attend the Simplified Strategic Planning Seminar for more instruction on these tools as well as all other aspects of Simplified Strategic Planning.

Robert Bradford is President & CEO of the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc.  He can be reached at rbradford@cssp.com.

© Copyright 2017 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution