Two articles that recently caught my attention are:
- The Thought Leader Interview: Cynthia Montgomery by Ken Favaro and Art Kleiner
- How Leaders Mistake Execution for Strategy (and Why That Damages Both) by Ken Favaro
Before they get to the corporate five, companies need to address five much more fundamental, and difficult, questions. Let's call them the “the strategic five”:
1. What business or businesses should you be in?
2. How do you add value to your businesses? (in the comments section of the article, Ken elaborates stating "how a company contributes to the performance of its businesses relative to their respective markets")
3. Who are the target customers for your businesses?
4. What are your value propositions to those target customers?
5. What capabilities are essential to adding value to your businesses and differentiating their value propositions?"
As I have written before, building a solid fact base is critical in helping to devise a substantive strategy but as Cynthia points out "A leader builds a strategy through in-depth conversations with a group of his or her peers, testing the ideas against a variety of situations. Knowing how to do that well will serve the graduates better as leaders than any particular plan they develop at Harvard Business School.
When someone next starts talking to you about the strategic direction of the company you work for, at, in or own, ask yourself whether the conversation is centred on The Corporate Five or The Strategic Five. If the conversation is focused more on The Corporate Five then remember Cynthia's words, "Having a compelling answer to "Who are we and why do we matter?", that's where leadership starts."
If you are in a leadership role, or aspire to be in one, the last thing you want is executives leaving your meetings asking "Do they even know what business we are in?"