Taking on a strategic approach
The word ‘strategy’ is thrown around a lot these days, but how many of us actually know what that means? How on Earth are you meant to be more strategic at work? Well, we’re here to give you a quick lesson on strategy.
The history of strategy
The word 'strategic' actually has its origins in a Greek word that describes the "art of troop leader; office of general; command; generalship" and the military context has provided a number of examples of related words describing wars and battles. We also see the word in use in sports and in politics but, to paraphrase the Prussian soldier and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz, there is little difference between war and politics!
Strategic planning was often used in the 1960s and 1970s, and recently we’ve seen a re-emergence of strategic planning. Now, it is widely recognised as fundamental to the success of any organisation – particularly those in a period of major change.
So…what is strategy?
A strategy should help you establish a clear sense of direction and purpose towards a specific outcome (or set of outcomes) within a particular context. It guides your decision making in terms of what and how, and when used in an organisation, strategic thinking helps everyone to pull in the same direction towards a common set of goals.
Strategic thinking involves stepping back from your organisation so that you can view it in a way that helps you understand what is important today, and what you need to do to make it successful in the future.
Why develop a strategy?
A strategy gives you a clear, shared, sense of direction and this enables everyone in an organisation to pull in the same direction. This means that your organisation’s journey will be much smoother and easier to manage; everyone will know what they should be doing!
Here are a few other reasons you may choose to develop a strategy
- to improve something
- to address a specific issue
- to survive
- to bring about change
- to take responsibility
Being clear about exactly why you’re taking a strategic approach will allow you to set expectations and may help you avoid problems later on in the process.
How to be more strategic
Sometimes, we’re not in control of the strategy. Instead, we’re part of it and have to do our bit to reach the end goal. Knowing how to implement a strategic plan will make the process much easier.
We recommend a simple five step process:
- Preparation – Set yourself up for success
- Where are you now? – Understand your current situation
- Where are you going? – Look at the bigger picture
- How will you get there? – Establish a strategic framework
- How will you manage the plan? - Implement the framework
Need some more help?
Our one day introduction to strategy course, Strategy: from the vision to implementation, will give you the basics tools you need for strategic success. Find out more about the course and book your place here.