Posted by on February 9, 2014

Excerpts from ‘The big lie of strategic planning’, Roger L. Martin, HBR Jan-Feb 2014, p 78.

Traditional strategic planning comfortably treats future revenues like costs that can be managed and controlled – using tons of hours producing very detailed plans and spreadsheets.

The problem: [strategic] planning can’t and won’t make revenue magically appear, and the effort you spend creating revenue plans is a distraction from the strategist’s much harder job: finding ways to acquire and keep customers.

True strategy is about placing bets and making hard choices. The objective is not to eliminate risk, but to increase the odds of success.

Three rules: 1) Keep it simple: one-pager telling where you will play and how you will win. 2) Don’t look for perfection. 3) Make the logic explicit (so that you are able to test your thinking).

Note on rule 1): ‘Giant opportunities encourage bad strategy’ – rather than going for a small piece of a huge market, have the courage to go for a large slice of a small market. This will encourage more specific choices. When you are facing a huge growth opportunity, it’s smarter to think sequentially:  Determine what piece of the overall market to tackle first and target it precisely and relentlessly.



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