Struggling with Strategy? You aren’t alone.


Do you find yourself struggling with your organization’s strategy? Well, you aren’t alone. Most organizations (90%+ in my estimate) struggle to articulate their strategy in a clear, compelling manner. Unfortunately, few leaders understand the true definition of strategy. Internal surveys show that almost 75% of leaders believe strategy is nothing more than a list of activities to reach a goal. Another 15% of leaders believe strategy is the mission, vision or values of the organization. And lastly, a full 10% of leaders admit that they don’t know what strategy means. As Roger Martin, author of Playing to Win – How Strategy Really Works writes, “Real strategy is about choices”. More specifically, choices to differentiate from competitors and win in the marketplace. Strategy should be about winning not just playing. That applies to the company, business units, and brands/products. It also applies to functions, departments, key initiatives and projects. Anything worth doing needs a strategy and that strategy should align to some sort of definition of success.

If you find yourself struggling with your organization’s strategy, following are a few tips to get you on the right path.

  1. Re-examine your definition of success or winning. Does it make sense to everyone in the organization and is it robust enough to capture what winning truly looks like. Don’t assume everyone knows the picture of success that’s currently residing in your or your leader’s head.
  2. Ensure you’re clear with the key choices you are making. Are they really key choices or just table stakes? For example, in the food industry, leaders will sometimes say that one of their key choices is to make high quality, great tasting products. Is that really a choice? Would you ever choose to make poor quality, bad tasting products? Probably not.
  3. Double check your resource alignment. Do your capabilities required and management systems support your key choices? Are you investing enough to enable winning? Many organizations spend resources in areas that don’t necessarily support winning.

If, after following the tips above, you’re still struggling with your strategy just remember that strategy should be simple and effective. That doesn’t mean easy though. Winning strategy takes time, energy, thoughtfulness, and iteration. If you need help, reach out to us at

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