Everyone in the organization must be aligned with the strategy or it will fail.
Clients call upon our strategy clarification expertise when they have a mission and at least an implicit vision and strategy, but are not using and communicating these in ways that drive the behavior and activities that deliver results. We draw out leadership’s strategic thinking, examining assumptions and plan elements to uncover the friction points that inhibit execution. We help craft the messages about the strategic plan that various stakeholders will understand and support in executing the plan.
In the article “Simplify: The Most Important Leadership Skill” Axiom partner Steve Strelsin writes:
“At companies that consistently outperformed their peers, the senior leaders…saw their role as “Chief Simplifier.” They were accomplished at simplifying strategy to focus on the greatest sources of value. They simplified the organization to better execute the strategy. And they took responsibility for communicating key strategic and tactical messages in simple, clear, compelling ways that inspired changes in behavior and impelled action.
The most successful leaders were consistently focused on the things that really mattered. They were willing to back off even good ideas for the sake of simplicity and focus. Like master gardeners, they recognized that careful pruning would ultimately yield stronger, more sustained results.
In a recent Fast Company article about “The Biggest Business Comebacks of the Past 20 Years” General Motors is cited for dropping its Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer divisions. Simplifying its business portfolio was a major factor that led, by the end of 2013, to a company turnaround that saved an estimated 1.2 million jobs.
In 1997, Steve Jobs said, “I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying “no” to 1,000 things.” But he also succeeded in consistently simplifying the strategy into memorable themes. Apple’s business strategy, according to its latest Form 10-K, is predicated on “bringing the best user experience to its customers.” That’s not far from the message of its first product brochure: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
In other words, when it comes to strategy, be prepared to say “no” unequivocally and to say, “yes” memorably.