Tools and frameworks

The most important tools and tips are included in the book and, rather than repeat them here, I will add further ideas. Because there is an endless list of possible additions, I would be interested in what you think needs further discussion. So, please let me know your own ideas or send me questions and comments about what would be useful to add. Email me at Jo.whitehead@ashridge.hult.edu

External environment

 

What is the internal situation

 

Bringing the external and internal situation together

 

How might the situation evolve

 

What are the options?

  • More ideas on business models and strategy options

  • Sparking creativity in teams and seven steps to better brainstorminig - One of the points made by this McKinsey Quarterly article is that it is only by bombarding your brain with new stimuli that you will become more creative. This reminds me of a participant on my Strategy Tools programme (May 2011), who described a programme at their company to be more innovative. The many sessions did not, by themselves, generate a lot of new ideas. But the whole organisation became more creative and started generating ideas as a consequence of the programme. The article also talks about the use of analogies - which is a version of an approach I use which is to ask, what would this product be like if it were a (some unrelated thing, like a fish).  Read an extract from Seven steps to better brainstorming. You will need to register to get the full article, but it is free and will allow you to access other McKinsey Quarterly articles.

  • Business week article on creative companies

 

Which option is best

 

More strategy topics, tools and tips

  • Broadening your skills in strategy

  • Strategy templates: These are based on what I teach on my programmes and will make only partial sense as a standalone product. I hope they help (see notes on powerpoint slides for guidance), and do let me know if you have any comments.

  • More Business Strategy tools - These (free) publications provide surveys of what tools we most commonly used.  The first is by some academics: "Most popular strategy tools". The second covers all "management" tools and is by Bain. It is updated annually. "Survey on most popular tools" and "Description of trends". Key Strategy Tools by Vaughen Evans has 80 tools many of which would fit nicely into my "6 questions" framework (although he has a slightly different approach).  Mindtools has a host of strategy tools. It is a pretty useful site - although the tools are not presented in a way that relates them to each other. For an alternative source of strategy tools, click here.

  • What makes for a good or bad strategy -  Dick Rumelt wrote an interesting book on what makes for a bad strategy. He highlighted four potential problems:

  1. Failure to face the problem. ​In my language that means failure to define the primary issue (step four of my strategy process). 

  2. Mistaking Goals for Strategy. A strategy consists of a goal and a plan to achieve that goal. If there is no plan, or no realistic plan, then the strategy is very risky. This is why I recommend that a strategy process needs to debate the goal - not just accept it. 

  3. Bad strategic objectives (too many, or too vague). This comes from not being clear about the primary issue and/or not being precise about the plan. 

  4. Fluff. Meaningless statements. I encourage a rigorous thought process.

Rumelt also suggests some reasons for bad strategy: 

  1. The inability to choose. I emphasise the need to define and select between options. 

  2. Template-style strategy. Templates can be useful if they are customised to the situation. However, if they limit the amount of thoughtful reflection on the six questions they are a problem. 

Finally - he suggests the kernel of a good strategy:

  1. ​A diagnosis. Steps 1-4 of my process.

  2. A guiding policy. An overarching description of the chosen option.

  3. Coherent actions. Not covered in my book!

 

  • Click here for a link to an article on the book (you will need to register to get the article but this is free).

  • It is hard to be sure if these are really the right 10 tests but they are definitely good common sense!. (you will need to register to get the article, but registration is free). 10 tests for a good strategy.

  • Communicating Strategy

  • Implementing Strategy - My colleague, Stephen Bungay is an expert in implementing strategy. This article summarises ideas in his book, The Art of Action.

  • Corporate Strategy - ASMC is an acknowledged leader in research into corporate strategy - with work and publications going back 25 years. The classic article is Corporate Strategy: The Quest for Parenting Advantage which you will need to be an HBR subscriber for. Another article you may find of interest is Parenting Advantage: The Key to Corporate-Level Strategy by Marcus Alexander, Andrew Campbell, and Michael Goold.

    The Boston Consulting Group recently released an interesting study on what corporate strategy tools are currently in use.

  • Functional Strategy - My book is aimed at helping you develop business strategy. However, people sometimes ask me for an approach to developing a functional strategy. Click here for some templates that I have used to help functional people (e.g., HR, IT) develop a strategy using the 6 questions.

  • Case studies - If you are interested in interesting business cases, one approach is to consult the European Case Clearing house at http://www.ecch.com/educators. You will have to pay for the cases (unless you are an academic) but it provides quick access to most of the well written cases available and could, for example, be a way to get information about a particular company or issue.

  • The Strategy Process - This is a very partial selection of additional articles as the topic is a big one and I cover it in some detail in my book. One particular area I have focused on is how to handle the biases that inevitably influence strategy. In fact, I co-authored a book on this! A summary article can be found here. You can also find out more at the book website.  

 

My colleague Andrew Campbell has written an article you might find interesting. What's wrong with Strategy, HBR, Nov-Dec 1997 is about the nature of a true strategy process, which he believes should focus on defining the purpose of the organisation, and providing value creation insights from which strategy can be further developed through practical testing of new approaches.

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