Indeed, in war - and in the boxing ring - the best of strategies can be, and often are, forgotten once the first shot is fired or the first punch is landed.
Strategies must be formulated, documented and implemented within the framework of philosophies and detailed mission statements. They should be structured, and based on the best available intelligence.
Realistically, much of the intelligence is only unsubstantiated, and often fractured, incomplete information.
Therefore, many strategies are flawed, - often fatally.
Moreover, they need to be malleable.
A common deficiency is the lack of detailed scenario planning. Perhaps, that should be refined to read:
The process of identifying, isolating and analysing a range of probable, possible and unlikely scenarios enables the development of contingency plans.
Some people wish to see into the future. Others desire to live there.
The sobering reality is that we live, operate, plan and visualise in the here and now.
At best, we can anticipate, plan and prepare for the future, and ensure we have sufficient and appropriate resources available for deployment to enable us to fulfil our vision, strive towards our goals and to sustain our achievements and standards.
EXECUTE - OR BE EXECUTED
Proficient execution of strategies increases the prospect and scope for success. It does not, however, guarantee favoured outcomes. There are simply too many variables, some unforeseen.
Moreover, in the contemporary marketplace, circumstances and forces are in a constant state of flux. The very premises on which strategies are formulated, documented and implemented need to be progressively monitored, and most probably refined.
Variations in one strata of strategic plans necessitate change in others. Thus, the intent is to maintain consistency and compatibility between goals, objectives and targets.
However, care must be taken to avoid “paralysis by analysis”. Wars are only ever won when there are troops on the ground to claim and protect territory. Business is much the same. Presence is a fundamental influence in determining sales, profits, margins, market share, image and loyalty.
Many strategies fail because the orientation is attainment of specific goals. Astute strategies detail actions, risks and consequence beyond goals – because time is a key element in planning, marketing and business.
US. General George S Patton was a brilliant strategist in World War II. In 1944, his army was the first to reach the German homeland. His dictate to officers in the field was that he did not want to receive advice that they holding territory. The strategy was centred on the need to, and imperative of, advancing.
Authority and responsibility were readily delegated. Officers responded accordingly in their execution of the directive.
It was a good strategy, well executed.
- Review, refine and recommit to the overriding philosophy.
- Determine, formulate and document a specific targeted and time-specific mission.
- Ensure scenario planning has been undertaken to identify, isolate and analyse probable, possible and unforeseen circumstances, forces and necessities.
- Script and structure an integrated strategic plan, detailing goals, objectives and targets.
- Ensure the strategy is understood and endorsed by all contributors.
- Execute the strategy in a timely fashion.
- Monitor progress; where necessary, refine and up-date the strategy, and above all, maintain momentum.
Barry Urquhart of Marketing Focus is a respected business strategist, consumer behaviour analyst, top selling author and conference keynote speaker.