The characteristics of a good mission statement

What makes a good vision statement?
The quality of your vision determines the creativity, quality and originality of your
ideas and solutions. A powerful vision statement should stretch expectations and
aspirations helping you jump out of your comfort zone.
As with the mission statement, there is no simple right or wrong answer and ultimately
what counts is its appropriateness and suitability for the institution and where it is on
its own particular ‘journey’. However, as with the mission statement, it is possible to
define some general principles of good practice which it may prove useful to consider
when revising your current vision statement, or drafting a new one.
1. Be inspirational. The vision statement is supposed to challenge, enthuse and
inspire. Use powerful words and vivid phrases to articulate the kind of institution
you are trying to become. This is your chance to lift your institution’s gaze above
the grind of day-to-day gripes and problems and to focus attention on ‘the bigger
picture’ and the potential rewards that await
2. Be ambitious. If you set your sights on being ‘within the top 10′ the chances are
that the best you will come is 10th. If your real aim is to hit the top 5, why not say
so and go for broke? What targets you set and how high you aim will, in
themselves, also say something about you as an organisation. Ambitious, perhaps
even audacious targets will help create the impression of an organisation that is
going places, that aims high and demands high standards from its staff and
students in a way that comfortable, ‘middle-of-the-road’ benchmarks will not
3. Be realistic. This may sound odd following on immediately from a call to ‘Be
ambitious’, perhaps even contradictory, but it is an important part of the
balancing act that is required. For just as the purpose of the vision is to inspire
and enthuse, it is equally important that this ambition is tempered by an
underlying sense of realism. People need to believe that what is envisaged is
actually achievable; otherwise there is no reason for them to believe or buy in to
it. It is perfectly possible to be both ambitious and realistic and it is through
successfully marrying these two forces that the best vision statements will be
formed. Stating that you will become ‘ranked in the top 3 in the student
satisfaction league table within 5 years’ may be both ambitious and realistic if you
currently sit at number 7, but sound far less convincing if you currently reside at
number 57
4. Be creative. Albert Einstein once said that ‘imagination is more important than
knowledge.’1 Of course, there is nothing wrong with saying that you will ‘deliver
world-class learning and teaching standards but it is probably a safe bet that at
least a dozen other institutions will be saying the same thing. Just as a
commercial company may need to think creatively in order to identify gaps in the
market, so too you may need to think imaginatively about what your vision is and
how you describe it to help stand out from the crowd
5. Be descriptive. Unlike with your mission statement, there is no pressure to
pare your vision down to the bone. Of course you want to be concise (indeed
many of the best examples of memorable visions to tend to be so), but there is no
need to enforce an arbitrary limit on its length. Take as much space as you need
to get your vision across
6. Be clear. As with your mission statement it pays to avoid jargon, keep sentences
short and to the point and use precise, uncluttered language. Otherwise you risk
diluting or losing your message amongst the background ‘noise’
7. Be consistent. Though bearing in mind their different purposes, there should
still be an element of continuity between your mission and vision statements, or
at least some careful thought and discussion given as to why this is not the case.
At the same time, the vision need not be constrained by the current remit of the
mission. Perhaps the institution is keen to explore new areas in the future: to
become the region’s conference venue of choice, for example, in which case this
would need to be reflected in the mission statement in due course
How far ahead should you look?
If your vision statement looks to the future, the question needs to be asked: how far into
the future should we be looking?
If you look too far ahead it can seem too distant and remote: perhaps even beyond the
period that most of your staff are even envisaging staying at the institution and thus
being considered largely irrelevant by them. The flip side of this is that by looking too
close to the present day you do not leave yourself the time required to achieve what
should be quite ambitious and challenging goals.
So far as it is possible to define a specific ‘ideal period’ we suggest five years to usually
be about right
To a certain extent any notion of an ‘ideal period’ will be influenced by the type of
institution you are and the nature of the vision you have defined for yourself. For
example, a heavily research orientated institution with strong industry links might need
to take a longer term perspective than one that is focused more, say, on teaching for
vocational purposes. However, so far as it is possible to define a specific ‘ideal period’ we
suggest five years to usually be about right. Five years is far enough into the future to
allow for profound change to be accomplished, but is near enough at hand for it to
generate the momentum and focus required to influence strategic activity within the
At the very least, we would advise reviewing your vision statement every 3-5 years –
even if this is just to confirm that it is still relevant and useful – or in the light of any
major changes affecting your institution or the sector at large, such as a change in
government or a radical change in government’s strategic priorities.
The best visions are inspirational, clear, memorable, and concise.
Avg length for the full 30 organizations listed here is only 14.56 words (excluding brand references)
Avg length for the first 15 organizations is only 10.5 words (excluding brand references).
The shortest contains only three words (Human Rights Campaign)
The longest contains 31 words (Amnesty International)
Oxfam: A just world without poverty (5 words)
Feeding America: A hunger-free America (4 words)
Human Rights Campaign: Equality for everyone (3)
National Multiple Sclerosis Society: A World Free of MS (5)
Alzheimer’s Association: Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s (7)
Habitat for Humanity: A world where everyone has a decent place to live. (10)
Oceana seeks to make our oceans as rich, healthy and abundant as they once were. (14)
Make-A-Wish: Our vision is that people everywhere. will share the power of a wish (13)
San Diego Zoo: To become a world leader at connecting people to wildlife and conservation. (12)
The Nature Conservancy: Our vision is to leave a sustainable world for future generations. (11)
Ducks Unlimited is wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. (13)
In Touch Ministries: proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people in every country of the world. (14)
NPR, with its network of independent member stations, is America’s pre-eminent news institution (12)
World Vision: For every child, life in all its fullness; Our prayer for every heart, the will to make it so (19)
Teach for America: One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent
education. (16)
ASPCA: That the United States is a humane community in which all animals are treated with respect and
kindness. (18)
Cleveland Clinic: Striving to be the world’s leader in patient experience, clinical outcomes, research and
education. (14)
Goodwill: Every person has the opportunity to achieve his/her fullest potential and participate in and
contribute to all aspects of life. (21)
Smithsonian: Shaping the future by preserving our heritage, discovering new knowledge, and sharing
our resources with the world (17)
WWF: We seek to save a planet, a world of life. Reconciling the needs of human beings and the needs of
others that share the Earth… (25)
Save the Children: Our vision is a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection,
development and participation. (18)
Kiva: We envision a world where all people – even in the most remote areas of the globe – hold the
power to create opportunity for themselves and others. (26)
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and
improve the quality of life of patients and their families. (18)
Boy Scouts of America: To prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible,
participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Law. (24)
charity: water believes that we can end the water crisis in our lifetime by ensuring that every person on
the planet has access to life’s most basic need — clean drinking water. (28)
Clinton Foundation: To implement sustainable programs that improve access worldwide to investment,
opportunity, and lifesaving services now and for future generations. (19)
VFW: Ensure that veterans are respected for their service, always receive their earned entitlements, and
are recognized for the sacrifices they and their loved ones have made on behalf of this great country. (32)
Special Olympics: To transform communities by inspiring people throughout the world to open their
minds, accept and include people with intellectual disabilities and thereby anyone who is perceived as
different. (28)
Creative Commons: Our vision is nothing less than realizing the full potential of the Internet — universal
access to research and education, full participation in culture — to drive a new era of development,
growth, and productivity. (33)
Amnesty International: Amnesty International’s vision is of a world in which every person enjoys all of
the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human
rights instruments. (31)
The characteristics of a good mission
Mission statements come in all shapes and sizes: from the short and pithy to the
comprehensive and verbose; and from the vague and general to the specific and
measurable. There are no absolutes, ultimately it is what is right for your institution, its
staff and its stakeholders that is the only criteria that really counts. For no matter how
well written it may be, how succinct or worthy, simple or complicated, it will only be
effective if it is generally considered to be an accurate and useful summary
of your organisation and if it ‘says something’ to its stakeholders.
That said, there are some general principles that it may be worth bearing in mind when
defining a new mission statement, or reviewing a current one.
1. Make it as succinct as possible. A mission statement should be as short and snappy as
possible – preferably brief enough to be printed on the back of a business card. The
detail which underpins it should be mapped out elsewhere (see Vision and Values)
2. Make it memorable. Obviously partially linked to the above, but try to make it something
that people will be able to remember the key elements of, even if not the exact wording
3. Make it unique to you. It’s easy to fall into the ‘motherhood and apple pie’ trap with
generic statements that could equally apply to any institution. Focus on what it is that
you strive to do differently: how you achieve excellence, why you value your staff
or what it is about the quality of the student experience that sets you apart from the rest.
4. Make it realistic. Remember, your mission statement is supposed to be a summary of
why you exist and what you do. It is a description of the present, not a vision for the
future. If it bears little or no resemblance to the organisation that your staff know it will
achieve little.
5. Make sure it’s current. Though it is not something which should be changed regularly,
neither should it be set in stone. Your institution’s priorities and focus may change
significantly over time – perhaps in response to a change of direction set by a new ViceChancellor or Principal, or major changes in government policy. On such occasions the
question should at least be asked: ‘does our current mission statement still stand?’
It may be useful to re-read the examples cited in the mission statement section in the
light of this list and to assess if and how each demonstrate these qualities.
Hopefully, if your mission statement conforms to the above principles it should stand a
good chance of fulfilling its objectives, but there are no guarantees – especially if, no
matter how well worded – it is not accepted by the broader institutional community. For
if your institution as a whole, or significant elements of it, reject your mission statement
wholesale its value is effectively lost and it will forever remain a slick, but essentially
meaningless, set of words. The main mitigation against this risk is likely to stem from
the way in which your mission statement, along with your vision and values are
formulated, communicated and disseminated – topics addressed elsewhere in this
The Institutional Experience
On the basis of reflection at senior management level, followed by some small-scale
‘reality-check’ testing in a small number of staff teams, we identified a mission
focussed around the concepts of Promoting, Developing, Supporting. The proposition
is that these words reflect the scope of our activities over the student lifecycle from
initial enquiry to final award (promoting the University; promoting educational
aspiration; developing life and learning skills, developing employability, supporting
students, etc). We considered whether the three concepts were in a linear or circular
relationship and toyed with a number of different layouts. On the final strategy
document, the mission appears as follows, alongside an image which is intended to
reflect the importance of teamworking, collaboration and partnerships (as expressed
elsewhere in the strategy).
How to identify and agree your mission
This section deliberately focuses on how to identify and agree your mission statement
and not on who should be involved in this process. Questions regarding who should be
involved and how it should be coordinated represents a different set of challenges
entirely and are broadly the same regardless of whether forming your mission
statement, vision statement or values. As a result this guidance is included at the end of
this stage and is designed to encompass all three.
Before getting embroiled in the details of precise wording and phrasing your most
important task is to have successfully identified the major elements by which you wish
to define your institution’s raison d’être. Examples of what we mean by an ‘element’
include such things as ‘international reputation for research’, ‘leading edge facilities’ or
‘excellence in vocational training’. They represent the nub of what you feel represents
the best of your institution and what it strives to achieve.
During this process it may help to ask yourselves the following questions:
1. What are the first 5 words that spring to mind when asked to describe your
2. What is it that you do best?
3. What makes you different?
4. What would you like others to think of you?
The next stage in the process is likely to be one of shortlisting, only possible if
accompanied by a considerable degree of discussion, compromise and trial and error. It
should be fairly easy to move from the original long list to a shortlist of real contenders,
simply by discarding those elements which received only very limited support, or which
are only slight variations on others. Moving from a shortlist to the final number of
agreed elements may prove a trickier proposition, not least because they may all be
worthy entrants which, if length were no issue, would all be included.
Here is where a process of prioritisation may prove useful. Ranking each element in
terms of its perceived importance to the institution serves two purposes: Firstly, it
makes it possible to define a cut-off point, beyond which otherwise worthy elements will
not make the final cut (i.e. ‘we are only going to include the top 4 elements that we have
listed’, for example). Secondly, it starts to give some shape to the statement itself by
dictating the logical order in which each element should be described, with logic
dictating what you consider to be the most important element coming first.
From here on in it’s a question of phrasing, reviewing and rephrasing until you are
happy with the end result. In many respects the process of defining the final wording of
your mission statement is akin to writing poetry, with no word wasted or included
without good reason, plus a similar need for the text to scan and flow as smoothly as
possible. Otherwise, it’s all too easy to end up with a series of worthy, but disjointed and
unconnected statements where, instead, what we are looking for is for the sum of the
whole to be greater than its parts.
It is also worth paying particular attention to the range of adjectives used throughout
the statement to ensure that you have not inadvertently slipped into unjustifiable
hyperbole: are all your facilities really ‘world class’? Do you really have an ‘international
reputation’ for research? etc. Focusing instead on what you believe to be most important
to your institution, rather than simply repeating or trying to better well-worn generic
claims should help in this regard. As ever, it is advisable to avoid jargon and to use plain
English and short sentences wherever possible to ensure that your message is not
weakened or lost.
As the above guidance implies, it is our view that the mission statement should be an
accurate summary and reflection of the institution and what it strives to achieve as it is.
Where it strives to be in the future is something which should be defined in its vision –
as described in future sections. However, it may be that in certain exceptional
circumstances – for example following the granting of university status or other such
major changes – that it is necessary to also take a more future-focused approach to
defining your new mission statement and perhaps looking to some of the goals
identified during the formation of that vision to help craft a mission statement that
describes how you see the new mission of the institution going forward, rather than
simply reflecting the past you have left behind. Such complexities help remind us that
individual circumstance and operational necessity may often require a more pragmatic
and less clear-cut approach than it is possible for us to describe in this guidance.
Although crafted with longevity in mind it is also important to periodically review your
mission statements to check that they are still current and valid. This may be
particularly relevant after the kind of major organisational change mentioned above, but
may also be required simply due to the passage of time and the gradual impact of
change. A scheduled review process, perhaps annually or every few years can help
ensure its continued relevance, always starting with an assessment of the statement as it
currently stands and whether each element is still accurate and helpful. If there are
aspects of it which should be removed or altered following the rest of the guidance in
this section should help you to identify what they can most usefully be replaced with.
The best mission statements are clear, memorable, and concise.
Avg length for the full 50 organizations listed here is only 15.3 words (excluding brand references)
Avg length for the first 20 organizations below is only 9.5 words (excluding brand references).
The shortest contains only two words (TED)
The longest contained 235 words (UNHCR)
TED: Spreading Ideas. (2 words)
Smithsonian: The increase and diffusion of knowledge. (6 words)
USO lifts the spirits of America’s troops and their families. (9 words)
Lifestrong: To inspire and empower people affected by cancer. (8)
Invisible Children: To bring a permanent end to LRA atrocities. (8)
The Humane Society: Celebrating Animals, Confronting Cruelty. (4)
Wounded Warrior Project: To honor and empower wounded warriors. (6)
Oxfam: To create lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and social injustice. (10)
Best Friends Animal Society: A better world through kindness to animals. (7)
CARE: To serve individuals and families in the poorest communities in the world. (12)
The Nature Conservancy: To conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. (11)
JDRF: To find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research. (14)
Environmental Defense Fund: To preserve the natural systems on which all life depends. (10)
Public Broadcasting System (PBS): To create content that educates, informs and inspires. (8)
National Wildlife Federation: Inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future. (9)
American Heart Association: To build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. (10)
Heifer International: To work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the Earth. (14)
ASPCA: To provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.
Kiva: We are a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate
poverty. (16)
New York Public Library: To inspire lifelong learning, advance knowledge, and strengthen our
communities. (10)
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their
natural communities. (15)
March of Dimes: We help moms have full-term pregnancies and research the problems that threaten the
health of babies. (16)
Monterey Bay Aquarium: The mission of the non-profit Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire
conservation of the oceans. (12)
Amnesty International: To undertake research and action focused on preventing and ending grave
abuses of these rights. (15)
American Diabetes Association: To prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people
affected by diabetes. (16)
charity: water: We’re a non-profit organization bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing
countries. (14)
Cleveland Clinic: To provide better care of the sick, investigation into their problems, and further
education of those who serve. (18)
In Touch Ministries: To lead people worldwide into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and to
strengthen the local church. (17)
Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender equality. (15)
Teach for America is growing the movement of leaders who work to ensure that kids growing up in
poverty get an excellent education. (20)
National Parks Conservation Association: to protect and enhance America’s National Park System for
present and future generations. (13)
Save the Children: To inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve
immediate and lasting change in their lives. (20)
The U.S. Fund for UNICEF fights for the survival and development of the world’s most vulnerable
children and protects their basic human rights. (18)
Feeding America: To feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and
engage our country in the fight to end hunger. (22)
Creative Commons develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes
digital creativity, sharing, and innovation. (15)
Make-A-Wish: We grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the
human experience with hope, strength and joy. (21)
AARP: To enhance quality of life for all as we age. We lead positive social change and deliver value to
members through information, advocacy and service. (25)
American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing
the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. (21)
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and
improve the quality of life of patients and their families. (18)
Habitat for Humanity International: Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings
people together to build homes, communities and hope. (16)
National Multiple Sclerosis Society: We mobilize people and resources to drive research for a cure and
to address the challenges of everyone affected by MS. (21)
San Diego Zoo is a conservation, education, and recreation organization dedicated to the reproduction,
protection, and exhibition of animals, plants, and their habitats. (20)
Audubon: To conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their
habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity. (24)
Boy Scouts of America: To prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes
by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law. (25)
Mayo Clinic: To inspire hope and contribute to health and well-being by providing the best care to every
patient through integrated clinical practice, education and research. (24)
Susan G Komen for the Cure is fighting every minute of every day to finish what we started and achieve
our vision of a world without breast cancer. (24)
Ducks Unlimited conserves, restores, and manages wetlands and associated habitats for North
America’s waterfowl. These habitats also benefit other wildlife and people. (20)
Doctors without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) works in nearly 70 countries providing medical
aid to those most in need regardless of their race, religion, or political affiliation. (21)
NPR: To work in partnership with member stations to create a more informed public – one challenged and
invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures. (28)
The Rotary Foundation: To enable Rotarians to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace
through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty. (24)
Strategy theory
Business strategy
A business strategy is the means by which it sets out to achieve its desired ends (objectives). It
can simply be described as a long-term business planning. Typically a business strategy will
cover a period of about 3-5 years (sometimes even longer).
A business strategy is concerned with major resource issues e.g. raising the finance to build a
new factory or plant. Strategies are also concerned with deciding on what products to allocate
major resources to - for example when Coca-Cola launched Pooh Roo Juice in this country.
Strategies are concerned with the scope of a business' activities i.e. what and where they produce.
For example, BIC's scope is focused on three main product areas - lighters, pens, and razors, and
they have developed superfactories in key geographical locations to produce these items.
Two main categories of strategies can be identified:
1. Generic (general) strategies, and
2. Competitive strategies.
The main types of generic strategies that organisations can pursue are:
1. Growth i.e. the expansion of the company to purchase new assets, including new businesses,
and to develop new products. The Inland Revenue has expanded from being just a tax collector,
to other functions such as collecting student loan repayments and paying tax credits.
2. Internationalisation/globalisation i.e. moving operations into more and more countries. For
example companies like Gillette, Coca-Cola, Kellogg's, and Cadbury Schweppes are major
multinationals with operations across the globe.
3. Retrenchment involves cutting back to focus on your best lines. The Americans refer to this as
'sticking to the knitting' - i.e. concentrating on what you do best.
Competitive advantage
Competitive strategies are also important. Competitive strategies are concerned with doing things
better than rivals. To be competitive a firm shouldn't just copy the ideas of rivals. They should
seek to out compete rivals. There are two main ways of being competitive.
1. By selling goods at lower prices than rivals. This is possible when a firm is the market leader
and benefits from economies of scale.
2. By differentiating your product from those of rivals - which enables you to charge a higher
price if desired.
The airline industry is divided into two main segments. At one end of the market are the
premium price category firms such as British Airways that concentrate on differentiation. They
offer better service to passengers, more legroom, in flight entertainment, and more individualised
attention. At the other end of the market the emphasis is on being the low cost producer and is
exemplified by 'no frills' airlines such as Ryanair. Ryanair focuses on short haul destinations and
keeping its planes in the air as frequently as possible in a 24 hour period.
Economies of scale - The advantages that large firms have from producing large volumes of
output enabling them to spread their costs over more units of output.
Differentiation - Making a product different from rival offerings e.g. through packaging and
labelling, customer care, additional extra features, etc.
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How to Formulate Strategy for a Start Up
Edited by Shyamsunder Panchavati, Teresa, Garshepp, Maniac and 1 other
There are excellent articles on business promotion, marketing, and sales
strategies. However when it comes to strategic planning for running an
enterprise especially in the small and medium scale sector. The entrepreneurs
are often found groping in the dark. The purpose of this article is to
uncomplicate this complicated process and present it in an easy to understand
“How to” format. This article is positioned for an entrepreneur with some
management education or background running an enterprise or managing a
The best practice is not often the best strategy.
Strategy is a way of thinking, not a procedural exercise or a set of frameworks.
To stimulate that thinking and the dialog that goes along with it, it is essential to
design metrics based on sound and practical parameters, and follow a set of
action oriented steps aimed at helping executives assess the strength of their
strategies. It is imperative to design steps focused on testing the strategy itself
(in other words, the output of the strategy-development process), rather than the
frameworks, tools, and approaches that generate strategies, for two reasons.
First, companies develop strategy in many different ways, often idiosyncratic to
their organizations, people, and markets. Second, many strategies emerge over
time rather than from a process of deliberate formulation.
How to go about it?
Understand strategy and its importance: You need a strategy that beats the market realities.
There are certain common denominators for all the companies that operate like customers,
suppliers, competitors, and potential entrants (competitive products). Now each of these try to
demand and command attention in furtherance of their own cause. All these also can work
towards reducing the gap between the capital investment and returns (profit/loss). It is prudent
to manage these denominators in a way that reverses the trend and makes returns, a healthy
multiple of capital investment.
Identify the source of advantage and exploit it: There are many sources of advantage for an
entrepreneur -- two of the most important being, location and special capability. Now these are
scarce commodities and any strategy plan conceived around attributes puts the organization
ahead of the rest of the competition and positions you along with the best of the competition,
and makes success that much less complicated.
Position the organization appropriately: Focus on the markets and the marketing factors that
synch with the nature, culture, size and technological advantages and constraints. Determine
and discriminate between the markets while allocating funds. The strategy should reflect a clear
understanding of markets and should result in intelligent defining of the segments that could
result in refined resource allocation. This should of course be preceded by microscopic market
research at granular level to see direction of trends in those markets.
Do not follow the trends, but set one: Far too often it has been observed, that the strategies
are woven around the existing market trends. This is considered a way of playing safe, but how
safe it is, is the question. The word “trend” itself denotes a temporary existence and ease of
replaceability (imminence of change). The strategy should be to peep into the future and
identify what could be tomorrow’s trend. Identify and formulate the strategy accordingly, or
better still plan a strategy that could make you a trend setter.
Base your team strategy on privileged insights into futures, not on past history: It is a common
practice, to collect heaps of information on the history, do some arbitrary interpolation or
extrapolation and then base team strategy on this data. This will no doubt allow your team to
sustain past commitments without losses -- but if growth is your objective and market
leadership the ultimate aim, you'll need to have an insight into the future. A glance into people’s
pulse regarding what they have versus new things they would like to have -- gives a fairly
accurate insight into the future. It pays to organize frequent market research (controlled
advancements are not moved forward randomly). With the availability of so many social media
platforms, it is now easier to gauge people’s aspirations by seeing and assessing interests and
frustrations in your network.
Plan to enable success, but respect the glorious uncertainties of the market. An all weather
strategy often keeps you always afloat compared to one planned for normal (current) market
behavior. Planning for the event of a failure (such as maintaining liquidity by renting or leasing
versus owning capital assets) is always better than failing to plan.
Uncertainties of the future can be classified into four levels.
Level one gives a fairly clear view of the future, and an inkling of what to expect.
Level two is a little more hypothetical about the action and outcomes, but
rather concrete expectations. Level three works on the law of probability for
likelihood of returns. Level four represents total ambiguity (on a hunch for
example) about the outcome and delivers shockers.
A formulated strategy can reasonably be expected to provide for the first two
levels. Strategy for the third and fourth levels depends upon various factors, and
should be best left to the ingenuity of the entrepreneur and enterprise.
Stage your strategy to have a correct balance of commitment and flexibility: Commitment (of
resources) and flexibility (variations) are inversely proportionate and more often than not, they
are malefic to each other (jumping in contravenes edging in, one toe at a time). It is all about
trade-off between the two, and success depends on the timing and intuition. If it is a leap in the
dark, how you land your market for your new product depends on your expertise and
experience in creating a new markets -- or vice-versa.
Make your strategy to be understood and "bought into" by your team: Your planning should
be done in such a way that it is backed by a strong conviction in the team who must deliver on
the plans. This is possible, if you take into confidence the department heads during the planning
stage, take their views, and where ever feasible implement them. Ownership at the planning
stage naturally ensures ownership and informed support at the implementation stage.
Translate your strategy into an implementable action plan. First, define clearly what you are
moving from and where you are moving to with respect to your company’s business model,
organization, and capabilities. Develop a detailed view of the shifts required to make the move,
and ensure that processes and mechanisms, for which individual executives must be
accountable, are in place to effect the changes. Quite simply, this is an action plan.
Be sure that everyone knows the timetable for what to do and being proactive, not reactive.
Be sure that each major “from–to shift” is matched with the energy and assets to make it
happen. Since the totality of a major change often represents a corresponding organizational
transformation, make sure you and your senior team:
Draw on research and experience offering solid advice on successful change
management revealed by the large body of information of actual, successful change.
Align your strategy to the required resource allocation: That is the final -- but most important
point -- don’t forget to make sure your ongoing resource allocation processes are aligned with
your strategy so that when you do implement changes, you have the resources to fully take
advantage of matching resources to the opportunities in your new niche, product and market.