Strategy as a Negotiation

One of the most over-used and misinterpreted words in the English - whether British, American, Indian, Canadian, Australian form of the language - is the word "Strategy".  Consultants tie themselves in knots over defining it and justifying the high bills of their time and their research. Corporate leaders spend vast amounts of time holding meetings about it.  "Strategy" isn't it's own discipline.  And "strategy-making" isn't an activity, it's really a synonym for what's really going on - a negotiation over scarce resources.

Strategy describes how an organization will achieve ends (goals) through the allocation of the means (resources) available to it. 

Strategy development is, therefore, at its essence a negotiation between a leadership group to agree on the ends, and the distribution resources to meet those ends.

Should leaders not reach full agreement on the ends, then the execution will underperform as energies are misdirected in other directions, or worse, in undermining the goals based on self interest.  

Once the goals of a strategy are agreed, then the next round of agreement is the proportion of resources that will be allocated to each area to meet those goals. This is often the more personalised and intense part of the discussion.

Strong Strategy vs Right Strategy

There are too many uncertain and unpredictable variables in markets to determine a "correct" strategy.  A strong strategy is one in which diverse, expert perspectives have been heard, clear goals have been set and endorsed by the leaders, then allocations of resources have been transparently agreed.  It's a remarkable simple series of steps that are often disregarded in the murky world of hurling more data charts at each other in polite fight for positions over alignment of interests.

It's the Agreement, not the Document

To make the execution of strategy work, 90% of resources need to be allocated on ensuring voices have been heard, that agreements have been made and leaders are committed to the strategy. The document is simply a short, succinct capture of that agreement.  The work is not done when a pretty document is created, the work is done when a group of leaders enthusiastically set off on a path committed to executing the agreed strategy.




Envoy SummitsScott Wayne