We define strategy as the answer to the ‘how to grow faster?’ question. That is to reflect the number one obsession for most CEO’s and senior executives – accelerating profitable growth.
Business strategy is principally concerned with the answer to the ‘ how to grow faster?’ question. Although it can be very frustrating when a person answers one question with another, the answer to the ‘how to grow faster?’ requires just that approach. That means many more questions – as per the Formula for Growth:
The question of how to accelerate growth can only be answered when the component questions have been answered:
Who will deliver growth? This is the essential people and leadership dimension.
Why do we want to grow faster? That is our growth ambitions/imperative and mission, vision or purpose. Just as in F1 – it is about getting the whole purpose of the organisation (machine), to get the nose across the finish line.
Where will we grow fastest? Often called Market Strategy, or Market Segmentation. Just as in F1 it is the front wheel that sets direction.
What products and services will deliver fastest growth? Often called Product Strategy, or Strategic Positioning. This is the other direction setting variable (set in parallel with ‘3. Where will we grow?’).
What if? What processes, systems, structures and controls will be required to manage growth and deliver upon growth. Just as in accelerating a car – the controls become very important.
How will we deliver on growth? These are the two rear wheel’s that propel the car forward. Those familiar with the Formula will know that we look at this in terms of activity and effectiveness (in respect of marketing, sales, service and operations) or what is being done and how it is being done.
As you can see these questions follow the ‘who, what, where’ framework which makes the issue of strategy a very practical one indeed. It certainly is preferable to wading through strategy buzzwords, or reading about the 10 different schools of strategy. However, just because the questions are easy understand that does not necessarily make them easy to answer. Strategy and growth are complex.
Rather than asking ‘what is your strategy to accelerate growth’ we often simply ask ‘what is your FAST strategy’ or more simply ‘How FAST is your strategy?’ But FAST growth is only one dimension of a great strategy. We use FAST as an acronym to describe all of the other factors that are essential to the ability of a strategy to deliver (and sustain) faster growth (and profitability).