The detail of Strategy development is different for every situation. There is no template that is able to account for the nuances that exist, despite the claims to the contrary.

There are however quite a few sensible and easy to say but usually hard to do things that should feature in your considerations.

1. Go to where the work is done. Too many businesses treat strategy development as an exercise to be completed in isolation, assembling lots of data and PowerPoint slides. There is  no substitute for  going to where the work is done and realistically examining the issues. In lean parlance, “go to the gemba“, talk to a few customers, some who you would like to be customers, and a few outside the boundaries of your current market aspirations.

2. Identify the assumptions that do not get questioned, those that often make up the foundation of a strategic exercise, and then question them, to ensure they make sense.  The “what business are we in”  question and “every customer buying a 2mm drill really wants a 2mm hole” observations are a key to strategy development, use the opportunity to make sure you are focusing on the right customer, and what it is they are really looking for.

3. Use stories and analogies to make your points. People relate to stories, they understand analogies, and they are way more fun that moving data around a spreadsheet.

4. Do some scenario “what if” thinking, and make them relevant, but a bit far out there to get the juices going. Several years ago doing a strategic exercise with a client whose business was significantly impacted by the $A, for both the import of raw materials, finished product, and competitive offerings in their market, we did just this exercise. At the time, the $A was around $US.70, and we spent some time discussing what would happen at all exchange points up to $1.20, almost inconceivable at the time, but facing them a few short years later.

5. Make the strategy “porous” in the sense that as new information, situations, and opportunities emerge, that can be absorbed into the strategy, facilitating adjustments in resource allocations and priorities, without compromising the purpose and values of the business.

In the end, strategy is about choice. It is as important to articulate what you will not do as it is to articulate what you will. Making intelligent and robust choices only comes as a result of gathering and understanding data and combining that with the insights and wisdom that are often found out in left field.