What is Strategy?

9 Straightforward Steps to Build Yours.


James Macdonald
19 November 2019

Strategy. Everyone seems to be working on one. Honestly though – what exactly IS Strategy? 

“In reality strategy is actually very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement like hell.” – Jack Welch

Depending on who you’re presenting your strategy to, it might be a little more complex than that, but Jack Welch had it right. You have to pick a direction and you have to stick with it.

Simply put: Strategy is a vision of where you want to be. Nothing too ground breaking here. The art of strategy is to define this vision so that you and everyone in your business can embrace it, and then formulate an easy to understand plan of action. 

Failing to plan is planning to fail right? In fact, 95% of Strategic Plans are not executed. So how do you make sure you don’t fall into that trap? How do you make certain you are in the 5% who follow through to success?

Well, kind of easily as it turns out. 

Start with projecting out into the future – where would you like your brand to be in 5 years? This takes you out of the day-to-day and allows you to think on a much bigger scale.  

It’s like riding a bike over a narrow bridge. If you spend all your time looking down at where your front wheel is going, you’ll lose balance and fall. You need to keep your eyes on the horizon. This maintains your balance and allows you to negotiate any obstacles that pop up along the way.

Now – the next step is to break this down to 12-month priorities. Once this is complete, we break this down further to 90 days. Ask yourself “What do we need to get done in the next 90 days to take us closer to the 12-month goal?”

In turn, 90 days then gets broken into fortnightly actions to get things done. When financial investing, this is referred to as the “little and often” method. It is responsible for some of the most successful investment strategies in history. And what’s more important than investing in your own brand’s future?

The steps to Strategic Success: 

  1. Identify the long term objective or goal for the brand/business unit. (5 years plus)
  2. Identify  strategic key areas of focus for 12 months. 
    1. Identify 2-3 KEY projects/strategic initiatives to focus on (Whether you to focus on two or five initiatives you are likely to deliver only two with excellence – aim to nail two)
  3. Re-visit and cement (and create where necessary) your Mission Statement, your Vision, your Values, and most importantly your Why. 
  4. Conduct PEST Analysis. What are the Political, Economic, Socio-Economic and Technological influences facing your brand right now?
  5. Conduct SWOT analysis. Identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats facing your business right now
  6. Identify key Strategic Issues – the major immediate and near-future issues your brand faces
  7. Establish Strategic Plan – based on the above key issues being identified, write down specific goals you need to achieve in the next twelve months
  8. Develop personnel plan – who is responsible for what? Create a sense of purpose and accountability  
  9. Create action plan – who is doing what? By when, and accountable to whom? Ensure you are the 5% by completing the ‘“little and often”. 

If you’d like to find out more, or have 39 Degrees help you and your brand with their strategy please get in touch with James on 027 447 4042 or drop me an email

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