Strategy. Hit or myth?

BGI Group Ltd Blog

Nowadays there seems to be so much fake news about, it’s only a matter of time before we get fake weather: tomorrow will be very hot with lots of snow.

As a break from all this fakery, we’d like to give you a piece that promises to be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!

We’d like to start by talking about strategy.

Strategy is one of those things that crops up continually in business meetings, a bit like coffee and biscuits. But unlike coffee and biscuits, what purpose does it serve? Is it something that will help drive your business forward, or just a word that’s been devalued by overuse and misuse?

There are many myths about strategy. We’d like to debunk them…

Myth one – Strategy is only necessary if you’re a huge multinational

False. As far as strategy’s concerned size doesn’t matter. It’s a vital part of any business, regardless of how big you are. Whether you’re a minnow or a mammoth you need a strategy to get you where you want to go. A few scribbled notes on the back of a beer mat, or a four-page action list doesn’t really count. Strategy can mean the difference between the success and failure of your business, so, whatever size you are, it needs to be taken seriously.

Myth two – Strategy is expensive

False. There are people out there who’ve made a good living by making strategic planning very expensive indeed. We’ve all met people like that, who not only promise you the earth; they charge you for it too. But does a £100,000 car get you there any quicker than a £10,000 car? Not with our traffic. Strategy doesn’t have to be expensive. If delivered in the correct way it should be clear, simple and not a drain on your resources. We know that your cash is hard earned. It needs to be spent wisely. If you want your business to succeed, don’t ask – “can I afford it?” ask, “can I afford not to do it.”

Myth three – Strategy takes too long

False. Putting the right strategy in place should not take you from now until next Christmas. Business people, however, often use this as the excuse for not having one. I’ve got a lot on my plate. My inbox is full. I’ve got back-to-back meetings. A lot of people think that just putting in the hours will solve the problem. But a long day at the coalface doesn’t mean you’re going to strike riches. You need to find the time to put together a strategy that looks at every aspect of your business, including your workload. You need to find out what’s fundamentally wrong with your business in order to fix it. And if your business is ticking along nicely, you still need a strategy to ensure that it stays that way, and you’re prepared for the inevitable bumps in the road. Strategy is time well spent.

Myth four – I don’t need strategy; I’ve already got a business plan

False. A business plan is better than no plan at all, but it has its shortcomings. While it plays an important role in raising capital, its shelf life is too short to deal with all of the peaks and troughs that lie ahead. Only strategy can deal with both the short and long-term objectives of a business, to ensure that growth ensues.

Myth five – Brainstorming is strategy

False. Brainstorming is a bunch of people spending hours in a room covered in yellow post-it-notes, who’ve convinced themselves that their day out of the office will produce the golden eggs to make their business fly. But while they probably got a buzz from all the coffee they’ve drunk, have they really got to grips with the issues facing their business? The answer, and let’s circle it in red on the flip chart, is a big fat “no”. Strategy is a discipline, not a free-for-all. It requires careful examination of the issues facing a company, usually by the business owner themselves. It needs forensic examination of the numbers, to see what’s right and what’s wrong. If you really want a day out of the office, do it when you’ve implemented your strategy, and reaped the rewards, not beforehand.

Myth six – Fluff is okay

False. Fluff is for navel-gazers. It has become all too easy nowadays to open the lexicon of business terms and come up with something that sounds like it might be quite important. We’ve all come across people who are fluent in jargon, trying to appear clever by rearranging the language into something strange called “business speak”. If you want to come up with clever words, play Scrabble. Strategy is about coming up with clear, coherent business aims, written in plain English.

Myth seven – A goal is a strategy

False. A goal is a target; it’s not the means of hitting the target. The goal in archery may be to hit the bull’s-eye, but the strategy to achieve this involves training, practice, and a choice of bow, arrows, and handgrip. That is the very reason that so few goals are attained. People focus on the end result- hitting the bull’s-eye, without thinking about the strategy needed to get them there. Yes, it’s great to have a goal; otherwise, what’s the point in getting out of bed in the morning. But you need strategy to give yourself a fighting chance of achieving it.

Myth eight – To succeed in business you just need to go out and win!

False. This isn’t strategy it’s motivation. While it’s great to be fired up, raring to go, it won’t get you very far if you’re ill prepared. In sport you get many teams who are highly motivated. They bash the changing room walls before games, blast out heavy rock from ghetto blasters, high-five each other, and then go out and get well and truly beaten. That’s because the other team wasn’t just motivated they were prepared. They had better talent at their disposal, they had better tactics, and they’d done their homework on the opposition. It’s the same in business. The people who succeed aren’t just the ones who are fired up; they’re the ones who have a carefully defined strategy for their business, one that will help them succeed where others fail.

So who are we to claim the title of myth debunkers? We’re a business called BGI, and over many years we’ve proven, for a multitude of businesses, that strategy works.

Take the Certainty Score test to see where your strategy is right now, it takes just five minutes.