By Zach Yeager
Put the Strategy Back into Your Strategic Plan

Think back to your most recent strategic plan.  Is it made up of platitudes such as, “provide great customer service,” “improve efficiency,” or “increase sales?”  While there is nothing wrong with these statements per se, they are the exact same things that your competitors are writing in their strategic plans as well.

True strategy is about being different.  It aims to disrupt business as usual and find new, innovative ways to create value.  As you develop your 2014 strategic plan, avoid the standard business banalities and inject some actual strategy into your strategic plan with Fast Company’s  4 Steps to Truly Making Strategy Part of Your Strategic Plan:

  1. Commit to a different future: Don’t just guess at how you will fit in to the future marketplace, actively try to shape the future you want to see.
  2. Focus on different leverage points: Identify what your competitors are focusing on (e.g. price) and focus on something else (e.g. quality or functionality).
  3. Dream more possibilities: Strategy is not a science. Leave room for out-of-the-box thinking during your strategic planning sessions.
  4. Choose what competitors won’t copy: If your strategy is based on something your competitors can easily copy, it won’t be sustainable.

All businesses continually work to improve fundamentals such as customer service, efficiency, and sales. However, not all businesses incorporate genuine strategy into their strategic plans. By following the 4 steps described above, you will infuse your 2014 strategic plan with a strong dose of strategy and be well on your way to providing a unique mix of value that your competitors can’t match.