Jeremy Harvey helps businesses solve their complex issues. He has been working as an executive leader and consultant for over 15 years across North America, Europe and the Middle East. Jeremy became a Boardroom Metrics Accomplished Executive in May 2011.
I love quotations; they can sum up thoughts simply and elegantly. Some people even quote me from time to time!
Anyway, here’s one more for you: In his book ‘Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done’ Larry Bossidy stated that, “If you can’t describe your strategy in twenty minutes, simply and in plain language, you haven’t got a plan”.
“But”, people may say, “I’ve got a complex strategy. It can’t be reduced to a page.
“That’s nonsense. That’s not a complex strategy. It’s a complex thought about the strategy.”
And he was right, strategies should not be evaluated by weight, they should be evaluated by quality and simplicity combined.
A good strategy has to be compelling, directional and as easy to follow for a board member as it is for someone on the factory floor.
Let me give you a cooking analogy (those of you who know me at all will already be aware that I am often seduced by good food and wine!)
Anyway, when you “reduce” a liquid in cooking you boil away the unwanted water and are left with a sauce with a concentrated flavour. If you reduce your sauce too much, then you begin to lose some of the volatile flavours and your sauce becomes bland. In other words to get the perfect reduction you need to boil away the water for just so long so that you leave yourself with all flavour that you are trying to concentrate, but not to the extent of losing any of the flavour itself. A tricky balance.
Well a good strategy is like that. You may start with something that is far ranging, but you need to reduce it to the point where only the core essentials remain, but none of those essentials are lost. Sometimes it can be very hard for the team that writes the strategy to reduce it to its core essentials (for much the same reason that many writers need good editors). But in my experience it is worth the effort; it is worth the time and it is worth the cost to go through the thought process of determining the core elements of your strategy (I call them Critical Success Factors), and then communicating them to all your stakeholders.
As dear old Einstein said (or is reputed to have said) “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.”, He was right about that, and probably with that other stuff about relativity too!