Tag Archives: strategic focus

Acronyms: Does BS Stand for Business Strategy?

What do you think of when you see the acronym “BS?” Do you think of business strategy? Maybe you should.

I have nothing against real business strategy. I’ve posted on strategy often here. My favorites include 3 stories your business strategy depends on and defining small business strategy. My sense of it, boiling down three decades of small business — plus a fancy MBA degree — is that good strategy always looks, after the fact, like it was always obvious.

Strategy is focus, business strategy, small business strategy

Real business strategy is mostly just focus. It’s about what you don’t do, sort of like how a marble sculpture is formed what’s removed from the original block. Focus on what you and your business do best, what you do better and different, and then focus on a specific set of potential customers and focus again on building exactly what they want or need.

For example, a consultant who responds to an inquiry with “no, that’s not what I do” is executing strategy. A restaurant that doesn’t offer take-out or drive-through service is executing strategy. A gym catering especially to women is executing strategy.

But I do object to strategy as business buzzword, off-putting, arrogant pomp and positioning, a series of meetings, excuses not to get things done, or it’s obvious. Strategy frameworks are cool sometimes, and can make for good meetings; but real business doesn’t have a lot of time to sit around cooking up strategy.

Many years ago, when I was a vice president of a consulting firm named Creative Strategies, I realized that consulting on strategy is as hard to sell as consulting on sex or driving, because those are things most adults are sure they’re innately good at. And if you see strategy as logical focus, maybe that’s true.

One of the perks of having the MBA degree is license to be cynical about business jargon that .     So if I say that strategy is mostly either obvious — which is good — or useless; you can’t just dismiss that as ignorance. Well, okay, you can; but I hope you don’t.

I really enjoyed working for Creative Strategies, the consulting firm, and I still think strategy exists in a series of paradoxes. It can be wildly creative, seeing ahead of time what will seem obvious to all after it’s been executed. But success is one part strategy for every 99 parts execution; and that one part will seem like it was always obvious as soon as it’s been executed.

(image: istockphoto.com)

3 Ms for a Dragging Strategy: Map it, Manage it, and Milestones.

Here’s a good suggestion: Map your strategy to get the best results. That’s a post by Karen Keller, an executive coach. She makes three good suggestions for this situation: 

So what do you do when your strategy doesn’t seem to be working the way you think it should? You need to take the time and find the right direction you want to be heading.

She suggests three conceptual mapping tools: a strategic map, a compass, and landmarks. 

I like the metaphor because it fits the real world of management and planning process. The plan is like the map, tracking and metrics and regular reviews and revisions are the compass — tells you what direction you’re going — and milestones are landmarks. The milestones, like landmarks, tell you where you are. 

For more on that, my summary of strategy, planning process, and milestones

How Do You Define Small Business Strategy?

Yesterday I got this comment to my post Maybe You and I Aren’t As Good At Strategy as We Think, from last November:

I’ve been wondering: How do you define “strategy?” Is it possible to brainstorm to arrive at one? What are the “parts” of a good strategy?

strategy outlineThat’s a really good question, worth a blog post, or actually, maybe a book, or a series of books (not that I would be the author) or a whole graduate curriculum. But I do have 37 posts in the business strategy category of this blog, including this post from last October, which had this summary:

It’s really about focus. You can’t do everything, so you do the right thing.
You can’t please everybody, so you select who you please based on common sense, your strengths and your weaknesses, and how you’re different.
You can’t sell everything, so you sell what you’re really good at, what makes you appealingly different, and what sets you apart.
You can’t do everything so you do what’s most important, what gives you the most benefit per unit of resources, what aligns you best with your target market and your focused business offering.

In my Plan-as-you-go Business Plan book I divided it into three interrelated parts: identity, market, and focus.

Your Business Identity: This element is about you and your business, what I call your identity. How are you different from others? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What is your core competence? What are your goals?

Your Market: Telling the market story is about knowing and understanding your customers. Understand why they buy from you, what their wants and needs are, what business you are really in.

Strategic Focus You can’t do everything. In restaurants, you can’t credibly offer great food at bargain prices with great atmosphere. If you say you do, nobody believes you anyhow. So you have to focus. Make this focus intertwined and enmeshed with your choice of key target customer and your own business identity. All three concepts have to work together.

I hope that helps to answer that question from a reader. I’m glad she asked.