Characteristic #8: Developing Strategy

By | September 18, 2013

[September 18, 2013]

He who defends everywhere, defends nowhere.  – Sun Tzu

The senior executive leader is personally responsible to ensure that an effective strategy1 is developed and that their organization is properly guided along a path to achieve its objectives and goals.  Without a strategy, there is no map for this journey.

What does strategy allow us to do?

  • Prioritize objectives/goals.
  • Align resources.
  • Provide a guide for all activities.
  • Clarify the unknowns and risks.
  • Establish a realistic end-state.

Without a strategy, there is little direction, resources are wasted, and organizational drift and eventual decline will occur.  The organization begins to experience internal competition and conflicts; wasting precious energy.

It has been said that “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there”2.

Prioritization of the objectives/goals is the most difficult part of strategic development.  Getting this part right is essential.  For all that follows, once priorities are clarified, the planning and resource allocation are easier.  Those objectives/goals are few and rightly so.

The strategic development process, while it can be difficult and intense, must be undertaken with personal attention from all the senior executive leaders.  Consensus is not required in the developmental process but harmony in execution is necessary.

There are no short cuts to developing the right strategy.

So what is the process for strategic development?  There are many techniques but there is some common ground that should not be ignored.

  • Establish goals/objectives, organizational mission and vision.
  • Develop courses of action and select the most suitable.
  • Implement the strategy with tenacity.
  • Evaluate and review progress.

A strategy could be off the mark, or outright wrong.  This happens more often than one would expect.  An evaluation and review is necessary to ensure defects are identified early.  Senior executive leaders need to be alert to this phenomenon and have established milestones and metrics to assist in monitoring the applicability of the strategy.

A mature strategic developmental planning process, however, is not wasted if the strategy proves problematic.  Planning helps us have situational awareness and is a forcing function for strategic thinking.  If necessary, formal planning can begin again with renewed vigor.

Strategy is only as good as the people dedicated to developing it, leading the implementation, and review.  Therefore, anything less than the full effort will lead to misfortune.


[1] Strategy is an overarching plan to achieve a major goal.  Strategy development is the process used to build the organization’s strategy.

[2] Lewis Carroll. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1865.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

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