What is strategy?
There is not one universal definition of strategy. The word strategy comes from the Greek language and refers to the art and skill of managing military formations. On Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org) you can find some interesting definitions, for example:
- Strategy is a general plan to achieve one or more long-term or important goals in conditions of uncertainty.
- Strategy is a system of finding, formulating and developing a doctrine that will ensure long-term success if fully implemented.
- The strategy is to engage the internal and external resources of the organization in order to take action in the socio – economic context in which the organization operates.
Although these definitions are different, what we can notice is that each of them implies that based on the set action, action steps that should bring results will be taken.
Finding and defining the best strategy for achieving the desired results is one of the most common topics of individual and team coaching. These are the key elements to consider when setting a strategy to achieve the desired result.
- Long-term result, i.e. what is the result behind the result?
Helping a client understand what is a result that is even more important than the result a person wants to achieve is one of the steps that coaches often skip, especially when they have a client who comes to coaching with a goal that is very precisely set. This means that whatever your client brings as a goal they want to achieve you do not go directly into planning! The first thing you need to do is help the person you are working with understand what is next after achieving the desired result? What are the long-term results? Why are they important to the client?
The purpose of this research is to strengthen the client’s internal motivation and relax before the options research phase.
- Exploring the way or how to reach the goal?
At this stage of coaching conversation, your task is to help the client explore a variety of options that lead to great results. At this stage, use the brainstorming technique, open the options for the client. It is useful to encourage the client to think about the most different ways, possible and impossible. In this way, the client enters the process of creative thinking and thus we increase the probability that the client comes up with a completely new, different idea.
If you have more time, you can have these two conversations in two separate terms, ie they do not have to be part of the same coaching session.
- Identify key control points
At this stage, your task is to help the client set control points that lead to the successful realization of the entire project. The goal should be elaborated on a series of smaller goals and set priorities whose realization would make the best positive impact on the whole project.
At this stage you can invite the client to do e.g. SWOT analysis, you can use the model of SMART goals, KPIs, budgeting of parts of the project or the whole project, etc.
- Tactical plans
Once set, the strategy and checkpoints are an introduction to the implementation phase. It’s time for your client to translate their strategic goals into short-term plans. Short-term plans refer to the period between two coaching sessions. These plans will contain precisely defined and timed action steps. My suggestion is to invite the client to think about who are all the people who could support the project and who could get involved in the implementation.
During this period, focus on concrete and measurable results. Communicate very directly: “What exactly? How much exactly? Until when? With whom?” Tactical plans are sprints that the client needs to run between sessions in order to put the strategy into practice.
Three Cs of strategy implementation
Keep in mind that most projects successfully pass the first 3 phases, but somewhere in the implementation phase things get complicated. One way to ensure that the strategy is successfully implemented is suggested by consultant Scott Edinger, who published an article on this topic in Forbes in 2012. The three Cs Edinger suggests are:
Clarify, i.e. explain to stakeholders all the details of the strategy
All the people involved in the project must understand the strategy set by your client. This means that you as a coach have to ask a lot of open-ended questions and help the client understand the impact network in their project. Help the client simply explain all the elements of the strategy to key people.
Communicate or communicate strategy
Help the client understand what means and channels of communication he can engage to communicate his strategy. Given that strategies should have a dominant impact on the project, it is crucial to create appropriate communication channels.
Cascade – cascade strategy
The last step is to create a matrix that would allow the strategy to be applied to all members of the team or organization. Your task is to question the client’s ideas in a constructive way in order to find the right way to cascade the created strategy.