Five essential strategy tasks for all managers

Let’s start by keeping strategy nice and simple and above all practical.  Strategy is simply a JFK_2008plan to handle what we know about the future.  Every manager needs to plan ahead and take action today that in some way is likely to have a positive influence on tomorrow.

  1. Ask “what do I know about the future for my business/division/unit/team?”.  None of us can predict the future but we can plan for certain changes that are very likely.  Knowing what is on the horizon is the first step to better planning and better strategy.
  2. Analyse what is being done today that will no longer be required in say one year’s time – how are you going to handle those changes?
  3. List what work needs to be done so that your area of responsibility deserves its future.
  4. Draw up a list of people to consult about the future and who can comment on your plan for doing something about it.
  5. Figure out what you can do today to prepare for the future – strategy needs to be action based if it is to mean anything of value.

Hopefully you will find these five tasks doable and practical.  Taken together, they are by no means the end of the story on strategy but they are an important start.

Having worked in a leading business school and sat through many strategic management sessions, I’m most impressed with Lafley and Morgan’s book Playing to Win – How Strategy Really Works because it simplifies what is usually portrayed as a complex analysis full of jargon and tools and techniques.  The authors make the simple claim that strategy is a series of choices.  There are five choices: an aspiration, where to play, how to win, what capabilities and what to manage?  I’ve both read and applied the processes in the book and recommend them as sound and practical management approaches.

I raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK – a small donation at would be most appreciated


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