Yep, I said it. The KISS principle on strategy.

Strategy has been written about ad nauseam, largely started by the grandfather of it all, Michael Porter, and continuing with the more recent Blue Ocean Strategy. Last month’s HBR issue was all about strategy. I’ve seriously lost count concerning how many issues on strategy that makes over the years.

Why all this fuss about strategy? 

For one thing, strategy as a word sets us on our heels. The definition of strategy is “a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.” It is supposed to be what propels the business forward, providing momentum. It’s also the easiest thing to blame when something goes wrong. It’s very easy to say of certain leaders, “they aren’t strategic enough.”

[Tweet “#Strategy is supposed to be what propels the business forward, providing momentum.”]

But what does it all mean?

If you answer the five distinct questions asked in A Playbook for Strategy: The Five Essential Questions at the Heart of Any Winning Strategy (HBR) keenly, there you go. Your strategy is in place.

  1. What is your winning aspiration?
  2. Where will you play?
  3. How will you win?
  4. What capabilities must be in place?
  5. What management systems are required?

[Tweet “#Strategy is practical. It’s actionable. It should be embedded throughout your company.”]

It’s not only having the strategy but what you do with it.

It’s as much about creating a strategy as it is about execution and the willingness to rigorously test your work. Often. Because market conditions change, products aren’t always developed on time, there is often colossal failure. Adjust. Adapt.

[Tweet “It’s not only having the #strategy but what you do with it.”]

Strategy is practical. It’s actionable. It should be embedded throughout your company and echoed often – not verbally, but in your results. It’s revealed in how you go to market, anticipating and meeting your customers’ demands, before they even know what they want or have a chance to ask. Think Apple.

I respect Michael Porter for all his work, but his approach turned us into strategy intellects that can’t get out of our own way.

Keep it simple, strategy.


As the CEO & Founder of East Tenth Group, Michelle leverages 25 years of business and experience as a strategic advisor and executive coach to help drive actionable people solutions and provide practical insights on business strategy to senior leaders. she and her team and are fiercely committed to the development and growth of people and companies because we believe that when people thrive, business thrives.

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