Does talking about strategy make you strategic?


I participated in a two-day team strategy meeting in California a few years ago.  As an icebreaker, a consultant worked with us to determine how we approached business, strategy, and teams.  It was similar to a personality test, only geared towards work.

During Q&A, one of my teammates asked the consultant “how do you become strategic?”.  His response:

Use the words “strategy” and “strategic” more often in conversation.

That seemed odd to me.  How can words make me more like the words themselves?  But, I was game.  I started using “strategy” in business discussions, during meetings with non-profits in which I’m involved, and I think I even asked my family about our strategy for training Copper.

Talking about strategy did make me think differently.

Strategic vision, organizational goals, timeframes and execution plans became clearer.  I considered how activities tied back to strategy. I asked simple questions such as “How is this related to our strategy?” or “Is this activity necessary to meet a strategic goal?”.

A good business strategy is customer-focused.

Product managers call this an outside-in view. Listen to customers, understand their requirements, and determine if and how your strategy aligns.

For example, “Customers will drive everything we do” is part of your strategy.  Which actions align to this?

  1. Your roadmap includes:
    – Increase calls 10% in next month.
    – Develop a survey for existing and prospective customers in the next 45 days.
  2. Your execution plan includes:
    – Two customer meetings/week.
    – Two customer events/month.
    – Survey existing customers.

Of course, you will measure outcomes and make good decisions based on these results.

Give it a try.  Start saying “that seems like an interesting strategy”, or asking “what do you think is our best strategy?”.  See what happens.  You’ll be a strategic thinker in no time.

Photos courtesy of and copyright Free Range Stock, Photographer Jack Moreh






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