Have you wondered why some companies and executives are so crystal clear and persuasive in their strategies while others leave you grappling with what they are trying to do or say?
How do you develop and communicate strategies in a way that aligns behaviour and motivates action in your organization?
If you are looking for greater clarity and alignment in your corporate/ business strategy, here are 2 big ideas on effective strategy development & communications to think about and apply in your organization:
1. Developing your Strategy Visually
If you are looking for ways to create new breakthroughs in your organization, you’ll probably need to tap on all your key personnel in formulating the strategy, and secure their buy-in. How can you go about doing that?
In Blue Ocean Strategy: How to create uncontested market space and make the competition irrelevant, Kim & Mauborgne recommend that that you Visualize your Strategy. This helps everyone to see the market opportunities, unlock their creativity and understand what can/ should be done
The visualization process comes in 4 steps:
1. Visual Awakening. Executives start by drawing their “as is” strategy canvas, which presents the company’s strategy vis-à-vis the competition in a simple visual representation. This forces people to ask if the company is indeed differentiating itself effectively. (Read more about the strategy canvas in this article.)
2. Visual Exploration. Next, executives do field-work to explore 6 alternative paths to create new market spaces. They will explore these questions (amongst others): What alternative products and services can the firm offer? What are the differences and which factors of the current offering should be eliminated, reduced, raised and created? (Read more about the 6 Paths and related tools in our book summary on Blue Ocean Strategy.)
3. Visual Strategy Fair. At this phase, executives put together their insights from steps (1) and (2), by drawing their “to be” strategy canvas. These ideas can then be expanded upon and tested with both customers and non-customers.
Now, let’s take strategy communication to another level by looking at the ideas from another book.
2. Communicating your Strategy with the SUCCESs Principles
In Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, Chip & Dan Heath identified 6 SUCCESs principles for creating and communicating ideas that are understood, remembered, and have a long-term impact.
These 6 principles (Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions and Story-telling) should be applied across 2 natural stages in communication, serving a range of objectives:
1) The Answer Stage
• Objective : Develop/ get clarity on the idea you want to share => Use the principle of Simplicity (find the essential core of the idea, and sharing it in the most compact form, ideally in 1 line).
2) The Telling Others Stage
For an idea to stick, it must make the audience:
• Pay attention => Use the Principle of Unexpectedness (get the audience’s attention through the element of surprise, then keeping their attention by capturing their interest)
• Understand and remember it => Use the principle of Concreteness (making our clear, concrete, with sensory information)
• Agree / believe it => Use the principle of Credibility (use external and internal sources of credibility to make our message believable)
• Care => Use the principle of Emotions (get people to care using associations, appealing to self-interest and identity)
• Be able to act on it => Use the principle of Stories (which provide the simulation for how to act, as well as motivation/ energy to take action)[Read our book summary of Made to Stick for more details]
Making Strategy Stick
Most strategies are academic and do not drive action. Once you’ve understood the SUCCESs principles, you can use them to overcome the 3 common barriers to effective strategy communication:
Specifically, when communicating your messages (including your strategy), make them “sticky” by using these 3 principles:
• Be concrete
• Say something unexpected
• Tell stories
You can get more details on the 6 SUCCESs principles and how to create “sticky messages“ here. If you wish to pick up a copy of either of these books, here are the links for Blue Ocean Strategy and Made to Stick.