Complicated strategies often fail. Watch this short video with Donald Sull, London Business School professor, telling Harvard how by asking three questions you can break down complex strategies into simple steps that make a difference:
Strategies are important. But sometimes even great strategies have absolutely no impact on an organisation. And unfortunately the problem is often the strategy itself. It’s too complicated and has to be simplified.
Can you remember the strategy?
If not, how can it make a difference? To be remembered a strategy has to be understood. And for that to happen, it has to be simple. Any strategy that’s too complicated to execute will fail. So how can you distill a thick and complicated strategy document down to its simple essence to be understood, remembered and acted upon?
First it’s important to note that Sull’s definition of strategy is how firms create, capture and sustain economic value i.e. what the customer is willing to pay and the cost of producing your product/service.
So how do you significantly increase how much customers are willing to pay? Or cut costs? “In most organisations it’s just a couple of things that have an impact on those two aspects”, says Donald Sull.
Donald Sull’s three questions
- What are your company’s key drivers?
- What are your critical challenges?
- Have you identified your must-win battles?
Just focus on the main issues since if you create a laundry list simplicity will go out the window. And do look at both internal and external drivers, challenges and must-win battles.
If as a management team you can take your complicated strategy and simplify it by focusing on value creation, critical challenges and must win battles you will, according to Donald Sull, bridge the gap between strategic insight and effective execution.
Do you agree with Donald Sull that simplifying your strategies make them more effective? Are you also of the opinion that complicated strategies don’t work? Do you agree with him that by asking the three questions he outlines a company is able to come up with a strategy that works? How do you simplify your strategies? Or, to put it in another way, how do you create strategies that work? Maybe complicated strategies have worked for you?
Video: Harvard Business Review – Picture: David Blackwell