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. TIME THOUGHTS WEBSITE 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 institution. 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. GENERAL FINDINGS 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) 30 EXAMPLE VISION STATEMENTS 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 statement 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 resource. 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). UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD How to identify and agree your mission statement 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 institution? 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. GENERAL FINDINGS 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) 50 MISSION STATEMENTS FROM TOP NONPROFITS 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. (15) 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. Read more: http://businesscasestudies.co.uk/business-theory/strategy/businessstrategy.html#ixzz2leWGUAtG Follow us: @Thetimes100 on Twitter | thetimes100casestudies on Facebook How to Formulate Strategy for a Start Up Organization 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 startup. 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? Edit Steps 1. 1 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. 2. 2 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. 3. 3 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. 4. 4 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. 5. 5 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. 6. 6 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. 7. 7 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. 8. 8 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. 9. 9 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. 10. 10 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. 11. 11 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.