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In a for-profit company, for which competition and profitability are important, your goals will differ from those of a nonprofit or government department. Likewise, objectives for a department or team will have a different scope from objectives for your organization as a whole.
For example, and depending on scope and circumstances, you may want to develop strategies to:
To determine your strategy, you must understand fully the internal and external environmental factors that affect you. With that understanding, you can identify your clear advantages and use these to be successful. From there, you can make informed choices and implement your strategy effectively.
So, strategy creation follows a three-stage process:
We'll look at this process, and review some useful tools that can help you develop your strategy.
In this first stage, you ensure that you fully understand yourself and your environment. Do the following:
A TOWS matrix can help you with your internal and external analysis. This framework combines everything you learned in your SWOT Analysis (TOWS is SWOT in reverse), and then applies it to developing a strategy that either maximizes strengths and opportunities, or minimizes weaknesses and threats.
In Stage 1, you developed an understanding of how your organization or team fits within the context of the internal and external environments. Now it's time to think about the different things that you could do to create a clear advantage, and meet your objectives. Here are some fundamental activities that can help you make this decision.
The final stage is to evaluate strategic options in detail, and select the ones that you want to pursue.
There's a lot of debate and disagreement about the best way of developing a strategy. Don't be afraid to adapt this approach to your own, specific circumstances!
It's no good developing a strategy if you don't implement it successfully, and this is where many people go astray.
See our articles on VMOST Analysis and the Balanced Scorecard for ways of bridging the gap between strategy development and implementation, and our Project Management section for the techniques you'll need to use to implement strategy successfully.
Your strategy tells you how you'll achieve success, no matter how that success is defined. And whether you're developing a strategy at the personal, team or organizational level, the process is as important as the outcome.
Identify your unique capabilities, and understand how to use these to your advantage while minimizing threats. The process and tools identified above will help you identify a variety of potential strategies for success, so that you can ultimately choose the one that's right for you.
1. Move from issues to choices: Often this is the most difficult step in the process because if you do not correctly identify the issues that you are trying to solve, then no matter how successful the implementation of the strategy, the issue will persist. The trap is that strategic planning tends to be calendar driven and focused on things like "declining profits." Your best option here -- to ensure that you are not just investigating data -- is to convert your issue into "two mutually exclusive options." This will focus the team on what must be done next.
2. Generate strategic possibilities: Once you understand the choice, then you can move to the possibilities that you might consider. Be certain to have a broad enough range of options to ensure an inclusive range of genuinely new possibilities. The status quo ought also to be investigated as there is always the possibility that no Cloud strategy will be adopted.
3. Specify conditions: Ensure that -- for the solutions being proposed -- every one understand what conditions must be true for the specific option to be strategically sound. Moving someone from “that will never work,” to “what would have to be true for me to accept this offering” are completely different conversations. Even a condition like, "a provider must be able to provision a production ready server in under 5 minutes" (which is not really realistic in most enterprises because most employ work-flows that require approvals and such) should be captured at this stage.
4. Identify barriers: There is always someone in the group who is convinced that none of the options are good enough. It is important to ensure that, regardless, you identify which conditions are least likely to hold true. The reasoning behind this is that the research that must go into exploring the viability of a condition may be quite extensive – especially with complex issues; so it is important that you only focus on conditions that have a possibility of playing out.
5. Design tests: For each key barrier that you identify, it is important to devise a test that will be deemed “valid and sufficient” to garner or generate commitment. This ought to be written into the RFP as the tests need to be conducted ahead of product selection.
6.Conduct the tests: When you start to run through the testing scenarios or barriers, it is important to run through the least likely first as the testing process is the most labor and time intensive. This will allow more time for the barriers that stand a chance of making it.
7. Make your choice: Review your key conditions in light of the test results in order to reach a decision. The old approach would have two or three executives, who had already made up their minds, battling it out -- which leaves the skeptics to almost immediately start to undermine the decision.