In our modern world, succeeding at reaching our goals can seem like an insurmountable challenge.  Long gone is the era of simple action plans and project conference calls.  As Moore’s Law and the availability of productivity and planning tools rises, it’s ironic that we still find it hard to keep track of everything.

We’ve missed something important. Stopping to define a strategy.

You can have control over your goals. Learning how to develop and implement strategy is not only empowering and liberating, it is also essential for your ultimate success. 

What is strategy?        

A strategy is a set of decisions that enable you to gain clarity on what you are doing and why. The ultimate goal of strategy is to help you decide what NOT to do, and where to focus your energies for the greatest return. Execution occurs as you put together plans and timelines to deliver the strategy. Strategy isn’t necessarily the plans, it’s the direction you are going and clear parameters about how you will know when you’ve arrived.

What makes strategy different?

Strategies are NOT the same as plans, goals, outcomes, purposes, missions, or even visions.  Let’s break it down.

  • Plans: Plans are developed to sort through what is needed to complete a  goal.  Plans can be lists of resources, milestones, and timeframes.
  • Goals: Goals are quantifiable results, measurable steps of what you want to achieve (think numbers: for example, a set percentage profit gain).  
  • Outcomes: Outcomes are the aftermath of reaching your goals.  These are the things that happen or result from achieving your ends.
  • Purposes: Purposes answer the “why am I answering this?” question.  They are ultimately the motivating force behind the action.
  • Missions: Missions combine your values and your purposes.  Missions are most simply what makes you YOU.
  • Visions: Visions are the realization of the endless possibilities.  They are the “feel” of what you wish to accomplish.  Visions, unlike goals, are intangible and cannot be scientifically measured.

Why strategize? 

By developing and executing on a strategy, you will save yourself money, time, and energy. Strategizing is the intelligent way to go about identifying, defining, and accomplishing your outcomes. By strategizing before you barrel through aimless steps that might create desired change, you can avoid unnecessary frustrations and potential missteps.

Is there a “right” strategy for my situation?

The short answer is no.  There are viable strategies that could apply across a variety of situations; just as there are many different ways to get to New York City, there are many different paths to success. While there isn’t typically a right or wrong answer to the strategy question per se, there are situations in which a given strategy is more appropriate for your situation. By getting clear on you why and how you will be able to identify the strategy that fits your needs.

Who can strategize?

Anyone can strategize. Strategies are appropriate for personal goals, financial goals, business success, and professional success to name a few.  The possibilities are limitless. 

How can I create a strategy?

Ask yourself some of the questions below to get started. Once these key questions are asked and answered, you’ll be well on your way to crafting a game-winning strategy.

  1. What is my ultimate outcome? (Make more money, broaden my network, increase the number of products in my business, etc.).
  2. Is this a viable and realistic outcome? Be honest with yourself. If you are determining whether increasing the number of products provides an advantage over competitors or an opportunity to grow your business, find out if there is a market for the new product. Is there an unmet need you can fill? What are other people doing and how could I do it differently?
  3. If the answer to question 2, after analysis, is yes, then move forward in determining how you will deliver the outcome. Will you buy a business that already has the product you want to add to your line? Will you create it from scratch?

Will having a strategy help me?

Absolutely. Creating and executing a strategy will change you.  For the better! It will help you streamline your creative process and soon you will discover how much more efficient goal setting becomes. Also, you will begin to develop a new skill set that you can use beyond the boardroom. This innovative way of thinking will seep into your subconscious and before you know it, your whole life will become more structured and organized.

What’s the outcome of starting to strategize?

Learning how to strategize will help prepare you for anything. The beauty of strategy is that it can help expand your goals AND help you perform optimally when faced with unpredictable obstacles.  So whether you want to set higher goals or dig yourself out of unforeseen difficulty, knowing how to strategize will save you time, energy, and resources.