To develop an effective and winning strategy for your business, you need to think about and clarify the future direction you want your business to take. You need to identify what products and services your customers want now or are likely to want or need in the future and at what price. You must understand what is happening or changing or possibly could happen or change in the market(s) in which you operate (or intend to operate), and you should be clear about your company’s strengths and those of your competitors’ in order to mitigate any potential threat or risk and fully leverage your competitive advantage.

For any strategy to be a winning one, you will need to clearly communicate it to investors and employees alike. To deliver a strategy successfully you will need a robust plan of how you will execute your strategy on a day-to-day basis – the operational plan that aligns all parts of the organisation to the vision/strategy and identifies who will be responsible for delivering what, by when.

I think the following 12 key questions are essential for business leaders to contemplate to help them formulate an effective, winning strategy that can be successfully delivered:
1. What business are we in?
2. What business aren’t we in? “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” Michael Porter
3. What does success look like?
4. What do we aspire to achieve? “Sound strategy starts with the right goal.” Michael Porter
5. Who are our current and potential customers? Drucker makes it clear, “The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.”
6. Who aren’t our customers? “You can’t be all things to all people.” Michael Porter
7. How will we create new customers?
8. How will we keep current customers?
9. What are our current strengths and capacities?
10. What strengths and capacities must we develop in order to be successful?
11. How will we monitor and measure success?
12. What management systems best exploit and enhance our strengths and capacities?

So, as the renowned leadership guru Dan Rockwell once wrote “Dreams are easy; strategy makes you sweat”.

Do you think it’s possible for your business to survive or thrive without a clear future direction and plan? How many companies can you name who fell by the wayside because the senior leaders failed to wrestle with and formulate a clear strategy and the plan for how they would deliver it?

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