Business Builders: Strategic Thinking, More Than You Might Think

By: Mark Frasco
Business Builders: Strategic Thinking, More Than You Might Think

I’m thinking… how many times have I heard a leader claim they are clear on their plan for strategic growth?

How about you? There’s your answer, hundreds. Some will explain the markets they pursue. Some will tell you the size of their target or describe a certain buyer type. Others will even share goals, described as a percentage of total sales by product group or geography. 

Generally, us business leader types are good at this. Based on our experience and intuition, sometimes a datapoint or two, with confidence we convince those around us that we have a vision for business growth. The best of us write it down, some even show it around.

But, isn’t it more than that? We know it is. Business growth is hard. Strategic growth is even harder and reserved for only the highest performing organizations. How do we find this rare air?

Strategic Thinking, More Than You Might Think

Strategic architecture, designing the framework of your growth plan, is a good start:

  • What are you planning to sell that the market wants or needs? Describe your products and/or services. Which ones should be emphasized? Why? Is the revenue and margin potential for each clear? Which are critical to today’s environment? Which must be developed for the future?
  • How do you plan to supply it? What is your process, deal flow? Do you offer different commercial arrangements? What is your pricing strategy?
  • Who will buy what we sell? How would you describe your high-value target, buyer type?
  • Why would they buy it from us and not our competitor? What are your value propositions, driving force, competitive advantage? What is the dramatic difference you make in the market? Can you prove it?

If that was easy for you, go through your answers again and challenge yourself to go one level deeper in detail or logic. Once you’re ready, begin to think about completing the plan with goals (amounts, percentages, and values). When you look at your goals, will it be easy for you to determine that you have accomplished them?

Michel Robert, in Strategy: Pure and Simple, describes strategic thinking as the integration of two critical elements. As outlined above, many of us have the plan stored somewhere in our mind or organized in a binder on the shelf. That plan is the easy part. The second element is the structure to operationalize the strategic growth plan. How will you install the process of strategic change and success?

Strategic growth has a lot more to do with the structure and process that is installed to operationalize progress and results than it does the plan itself. Next week we’ll talk about operationalizing the growth plan.

Stay tuned. Over the coming weeks, this Business Builders blog series will attempt to eat this elephant one bite at a time. Let’s take the first bite.

Your assignment: Using the framework above, determine your strategic architecture. Organize it by question, but there is no grade for neatness. Stars, arrows, circles and highlights are encouraged at this point.

For you visual or auditory learners out there, this video will help:

This article was written by:

Mark Frasco
President & Founder
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