Getting Strategic Clarity

Too often we find firms with more strategic clutter than clarity. Leaders in these firms have become enamored of the latest strategy twist and continually articulate a new way to position the firm. Nonetheless, it is possible to develop or enhance the required clarity. In one company, a newly appointed leader asked each of his direct reports to answer the question “What are we doing to win in our markets?” in 15 words or less. When his 12 direct reports reported back their statements, he found that there was about 70 percent overlap among their answers. Their differences were then discussed so that the team could gain strategic clarity. This strategic clarity exercise and subsequent discussion enabled executives in his company to be clear about their strategy and how it positioned them among changing business conditions. Strategic clarity is less about which word to use to define strategy (mission, vision, goals, and so forth) and more about a shared understanding of where the organization is headed and how to position the organization for success.

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