Business Strategy Is an Explanation of How to Win

Business strategy should concisely answer who the most import customers are, how to attract them, and what the entire company must work towards to win that market.

From What makes a strategy great:

Great strategies accomplish this with the following characteristics:

  • Simple: Reshapes complexity to be manageable and actionable.
  • Candid: Dares to spotlight the most difficult truths.
  • Decisive: Asserts clear decisions and accepts their consequences.
  • Leveraged: Magnifies strengths into durable competitive advantage.
  • Asymmetric: Defeats uncertainty with higher upside than downside.
  • Futuristic: Solves for the long-term.

Putting this into practice is difficult so I find that it’s useful to write a draft and then ask the list above as questions:

Is the strategy simple? People don’t expect much from simple ideas. Anything too complicated is a sign that a lot of things have to go right in order for it to work (execution risk). Elegance is a heuristic guide to truth.

What difficult truths does it reveal? Confronting the most challenging parts of the market, the customer persona, and the state of the world is important—at some point contact with reality must be made—better to be considered now than when putting the strategy into practice.

Is it decisive? If it sounds too wishy-washy it probably is. When will you decide if not now?

Does it compound in an obvious way? Look for elements of the strategy that build on itself and compound for long periods of time keeping in mind most of the benefits occur at the end. There also should be room to make many bets that have out-sized rewards with small effort.

Is it long-term and ambitious? Look for meaningful changes in the world if you are wildly successful and what must be true in order for that to happen. Build on that to take it one step further.