Strategy should be Simple and Effective.


I was reviewing a website the other day that claims to offer “everything you need to create effective strategy”. For several hundred dollars, you get over 500 strategy templates in powerpoint. No wonder so many people are overwhelmed by the strategy process. Strategy is not about long documents or presentations. It’s not about filling out hundreds of templates. Strategy should be simple and effective. If you can’t get your strategy on to one page, you are likely overthinking it. Like the old saying, if I had more time, I’d write a shorter letter.

As a strategy consultant, I’ve found that many leaders struggle to get their strategy to one page because they don’t employ a framework to organize their strategy. They flit between key choices, metrics, support points, and all sorts of SWOTS, Venn Diagrams and Bar Graphs. Or, on the other end, they talk in broad generalities that don’t provide a clear enough picture – in effect, too much vision and not enough substance. In the end, the links between success measures, choices, and resources aren’t clear. The Play to Win strategy framework is a simple and effective way to organize your strategy. Strategy is the answer to 5 questions:

  1. What is your winning aspiration – what does success look like?
  2. Where will you play or focus your efforts?
  3. How will you win?
  4. What capabilities are required?
  5. What management systems are needed?

If you can answer these five questions in one page, you have the beginnings of a solid strategy. At first glance, answering those five questions may seem like a simple task. The trick however, is answering those questions with enough specificity and clarity to provide meaningful direction while keeping it at a high enough level to provide flexibility. When it comes to strategy, words matter.

If you need help answering these five questions for your organization or have answered them but can’t get them to mesh enough for your liking, please reach out to me at I can help turn your good strategy into a great one that will dramatically improve your chances for success.

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