I wish more people would become more comfortable with the term “strategy.” It would certainly make the job of leaders a little easier. Strategy is not a big word, neither is it a big concept. It is not found in the mysterious depths of a crystal ball and you don’t need tarot cards for it. If you are planning to obtain favour with a certain someone of the opposite gender and figure out what sort of partner you would like, what sort of partner you would be, what sort of partner you don’t want, how you are going to engage with them and so on, you are formulating strategy. Now, if you are living in China and your strategy is to find someone with blond hair, blue eyes and six feet tall, your strategy is probably flawed unless you live in a place like Shanghai. Even if there are sufficient numbers of blue-eyed, six-foot blondes walking around in Shanghai, you still need to consider whether or not those same Scandinavian types would be attracted to someone like you.
Yes, you don’t need a crystal ball to formulate effective strategy, but you do need to accept what your eyes, ears, nose and other sensors are telling you, evaluate the information and then decide if and how you are going to proceed. You would need sufficient knowledge and experience of at least a fair portion of the proposed operation so that you can at least visualize enough to wargame, or forecast, what the outcomes of your strategy could be with different inputs. Simple? Sure. Surprising then, how so many companies fail in execution. Many gurus dichotomize, blaming poor execution for the non-fulfilment of what they trumpet as good strategy, but I would argue that at least part of the issue lies in the fact that the strategy was flawed to begin with. Your tactical business units might labour heroically to bring your ideas to fruition, but that is an uphill task. And while culture eats strategy for breakfast, it is good strategy that will help with lunch and dinner as well. Maybe with one or two tea breaks in between.
So, go ahead, make those plans. Just be sure that you make them well. You need to create conditions conducive for your business units to succeed.