Years ago, while reading The Strategy-Focused Organization, I came across “What is Strategy?”, by Michael E. Porter, The Porter article is very insightful, tremendously helpful for any organization attempting to determine what next steps to take.
Note: This is the article where Porter’s most famous line comes from (i.e., “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”)
Maybe you’re like the team I was part of then and you’ve spent months (I actually think our team spent several years) developing a new purpose/mission statement and then took the same, somewhat languid, approach to dream up a compelling statement that would capture the essence of our vision. Cool. Wish it had been more front-burner. But still good.
But, the question that I had then was this: Once we articulate that vision will we have the guts to focus on the things that will actually get us to the preferred future we dreamed of? And that is where strategy fits in. And that is where many attempts to actually DO SOMETHING fail.
Porter makes several really helpful points. Here’s the first: Operational effectiveness is necessary, but not sufficient.
Here’s his point…every management tool or technique that has been developed (Total Quality Management, Six Sigma, reengineering, change management, etc.), while designed to produce greater operational effectiveness, do not replace strategy. It is the combination of operational effectiveness (doing the best job possible with the resources that you have) and strategy (the intentional choice of certain activities over others) that will produce the greatest results.
Here’s the question for today: once you know where you’d like to go are you willing to choose to do only those activities that will get you there?