Strategic thinking for the rest of us

Strategies are applicable to both the corporate and our personal lives. Without strategies or a structured approach to planning, we might as well float around in the ocean of life. Floating and waiting where our company, career or personal life takes us.

There has got to be more to life than waiting for waves influencing our direction. Well, there is something better and it’s not limited to companies. From October all the way through December, most of our engagements are for facilitating Corporate Strategies. It is interesting that creation of Strategies is not a normal exercise for a lot of companies here in the Philippines. It is a very important exercise that a lot of our local companies do not practice or do not practice well.

The art of creating or modifying strategies is simply looking a few years down the road and asking what will our industry look like in 5-7 years?

Both in corporate strategy and personal life, we often forget to focus on growth. Company strategies and personal goals are half-baked if they are not rooted in growth somehow. When designing business plans or new products we need to take into account scalability. Can my product, service or business grow? Will there be room for growth or is there a limit to the product and service I provide? This goes the same with personal strategies. Am I planning to grow in the coming few years? It is a waste of time to plan to be in the same situation for the coming five years. That is boring and meaningless.

Agile programming has become a recent hit because it allows the company to keep development projects moving forward. Parts of the application are being programmed or coded then it is immediately tested. The traditional “waterfall” approach was to write thousands upon thousands of programming codes before the system actually hits testing phase. This usually takes weeks and even months.

The same should hold true for strategies. There are no perfect strategies. Strategies need consistent reviews and adjustments. We cannot predict a hundred percent the effectiveness of our strategies. Corporate Strategies need not be written in stone. The same with personal or career strategies. There will always be at least two uncertainties. One, the soundness of the strategy. Two, our ability to execute it well. We need to keep our eye on these two in order to have a successful strategy and execution of plans.

Strategies are usually looked at as high-level concepts and activities. Like most things in life, it can be simplified. Simple is good. Simple works. Simple strategies bring better results.