For perhaps the 1,000th time last week I heard the “strategy” question asked. It comes in many forms:

What is your customer strategy?

What is your google strategy?

What is your social media strategy? and so on.

All are valid questions, but the implication is that there is a different strategy for every bloody thing that is faced by a business, which to my mind is a degradation, perhaps commoditisation of the meaning of the word as it should (in my view) be practised. This type of usage is about the implementation of strategy, the manner in which you go about achieving the strategic outcomes desired, not about the formulation of the drivers of performance over the long term.

Equally, having an annual “strategic workshop” that sets strategy for the year is a nonsense, well, at best a budgeting session by another name.

“Strategy” is at once simpler, and more complicated than that, and comes down to five really challenging questions that must be lived, every day, by all in the enterprise. They are not the subject of some crappy off-site gab-fest in the slow sales period of the year if you are serious.

    1. What is the business we are in? (the old are we selling drills, or 20mm holes question, probably the most undervalued, and original marketing question)
    2. What does the enterprise do to add value?
    3. What are the behavioural drivers of the primary customers we are seeking to service
    4. What is our value proposition to these customers and potential customers?
    5. What capabilities are crucial, now and into the future, and how do we develop them to be differentiated?

When was the last time you seriously asked yourself any of these?