Subscribe to industry newsletters

Search jobs

Tapping into the power of strategy

Contrary to popular belief, having a plan isn't having a strategy. While a plan is a core element of any strategy, a plan on its own isn't enough to guarantee tactical exploitation of your opportunity.
Tapping into the power of strategy

There has never been a better time to develop a strategy if you're doing business in South Africa. Not only has 2010 stimulated investment and development, but we're really starting to come into our own as a country and nation. It's an exciting time to be in the business of doing business – especially if you understand your market and are prepared to act on this insight.

Strategy is about more than just having a plan though. It's about more than your leadership team cocooning itself at a “bosberaad” once a year. Strategy is about understanding where your company sits relative to the market place, developing a game plan to exploit these opportunities, and putting your plan into action.

Starting point

The starting point for all strategy within your organisation is to change the misconception that strategy is the sole domain of your management team. Everyone in your company has a role in making your strategy a business reality and needs to be made aware of this.

This strategic engagement with your employees is perhaps the most challenging aspect of putting a strategy in place. It isn't enough to “communicate” – your employees need to hear what the strategy is, and understand their personal role in achieving the strategy. This means that you as the business leader or owner must translate this into something everyone knows how to achieve. It must be made tangible: a concrete plan of action.

To tap into the power of your strategy then, you need to involve your staff and ensure that the implementation and tweaking of your strategy is a continuous process. You learn from your business, your market and your competitors, and this learning must inform your decisions going forward.

Planning, doing, checking and replanning

Strategy means planning, doing, checking and replanning – while keeping your staff engaged in this process. To ensure it's the most successful it can be it needs to cross disciplines; linking the silos in your organisation. This will ensure that each and every person in your organisation, no matter their department, is working towards a common goal.

How to know if you possibly need an independent strategist to help? Essentially, if you have a problem and need some help to fix it. This could take the form of your leadership team having a strategy in place that isn't working, or your staff not implementing the strategy for whatever reason.

Remember that while there are pros and cons to consider before bringing a third party in, they will add an element of objectivity, bring focus to the problem and play devil's advocate – asking you the difficult questions no-one else is prepared to. If they're any good at what they do, they'll also not just slap you with a “cut and paste” template they developed for someone else, but rather craft something specific and relevant to your specific circumstances.

Intimidating price tag

Remember, too, that a strategy expert doesn't have to come with an intimidating price tag. Look for a company that offers you someone who will immerse themselves in your business; someone who will go down the mineshaft, wear a hard hat, and get into the thick of things to find the answers you need. Great strategies are not developed behind closed doors or in ivory towers.

With everyone out there looking for competitive advantage, developing and keeping your strategy both real and relevant will require you to step outside of merely “doing business as usual”.

The most strategic advice I can offer you? Be bold when it comes to your strategy. Ask the difficult questions. Get the answers from the people in the frontline and use this knowledge to create a dynamic plan that you revisit on an ongoing basis. By implementing your plan just as dynamically throughout your organisation, you'll not only take your market by storm, but work with your staff to achieve a tangible goal.

About Antoinette Tyrrell

Antoinette Tyrrell is an accomplished professional with a strong strategy, communication and business planning base of experience. She currently holds the position of group strategy director at the Switch Group (www.switchdesign.com). Tyrrell previously worked for Glaxo Smithkline Pharmaceuticals and Coca Cola.

Let's do Biz