If your objective is to get to Philadelphia from Los Angeles, then taking an airplane and an Uber ride might be your best strategy because it describes how you will get there.

Well-written strategies move you closer to the successful accomplishment of your goals and gets you closer to realizing your vision. Strategies that are not strategies at all will almost always result in missing key goals and objectives. The problem arises from the fact that many people are not clear about what defines a good strategy.

Let me explain…

Consider one common type of objective… “Grow top-line revenue by 20% in 2022”. This objective tells us WHAT you want to accomplish. But in itself, it’s not enough.

Then the question becomes HOW you will achieve that sales increase. That’s where strategies come in. One possible strategy for growing top-line revenue might be to “significantly increase the number of LinkedIn connections in the coming year”. A well-conceived strategy answers the question of HOW you plan to achieve a particular objective.

In our experience, a lot of strategy statements found in business plans don’t answer that HOW question. Here are some actual examples:

  1. Decreasing profits from a particular product line
  2. Cost overruns on the production of a key product
  3. Increasing competition in a major market

When the HOW question is answered, these strategies might read like this:

  1. Increase margin on repair parts sales with selected price increases
  2. Eliminate cost overruns on the production of our bicycle tires
  3. Increase the advertising budget in the Chicago market

Strategies are specific and set the direction and methodology for achieving your objectives. They are not meant to be secrets. They are, instead, common knowledge and openly shared in every industry. When you decide upon a strategy, you have to spend time explaining the logic behind it. This action helps create buy-in.

To best build a business plan you will need to identify all the top priorities, set objectives, and have lower-level teams create action plans to address them. This approach allows for some innovation and creativity to leak into the process, which is a good thing. To further render the strategy successful, some companies provide ample departmental autonomy and decentralized budgets.

When a new business plan and its strategies are introduced, getting buy-in should be your number one priority. This is a change event. Changing people’s habits is a tough assignment. Sometimes a work reassignment is needed to get the right people on the right team and to open the transferred employee to different ways of thinking and doing.

Your objectives, strategies, and action plans, when quantified, will demonstrate how well you are activating the strategy by moving the dial on your objectives. Simple concept, but the activation of strategies requires a measurement regimen that needs to be constantly monitored and reported and corrections made to each of the three key components as needed to ensure you hit your objectives. One way our clients do this is through use of our simple and easy to use One Page Planning and Performance System.

Keep in mind, no matter how elegant and spot on your strategies may be, executing them successfully is your next big thing. This is where your team will devise action plans. Knowing who is going to do what and when they’ll do it and holding them accountable for results will activate your strategies and through measurement and reporting to help you determine your progress.

Strategies are the activator to reaching your objectives. Be sure that they express HOW you intend to achieve your goals.

Need guidance to be able to set good objectives and devise strategies designed to achieve them? Take a tour of our system…