What Is Strategy

Strategy is a word we use frequently. It is a member of that stock collection of organizational jargon that includes words such as goal, objective, plan, and team. The words are used so often that we assume they have a common meaning to everyone in the organization. But assumptions about the meaning of words have caused wars, so there is high value to validate exactly how your organization is defining what it means by strategy.

Here are a few of the most commonly referenced definitions of strategy:1

"Strategy is the framework that guides those choices that determine the nature and direction of an organization." —Benjamin Tregoe and John Zimmerman,

Top Management Strategy

"Strategy answers the questions: What should the organization be doing? What are the ends we seek and how should we achieve them?" —George Steiner, Strategic Planning

"Competitive strategy is a combination of the ends (goals) for which the firm is striving and the means (policies) by which it is seeking to get there." —Michael Porter, Competitive Strategy

As you can see, there is no single, definitive definition of strategy. In truth, it doesn't matter which words you use to define it; what is key is that all members of an organization have a clearly articulated and shared understanding of the elements below. When you have each of the following items, consider that you have a set of strategies:

• A position or mission comprising a set of products, services, customers, markets, geographies, channels, technologies (ends)

• A set of quantifiable goals (ends)

• Overarching approaches by which you will achieve the ends (means)

• Specific plans to apply those means and resources to achieve the ends (project portfolio management)

In visualizing the link between strategy and the project portfolio in Figure 4.1-1, we will assign the term strategy to the element of means or approach that will be used to accomplish the ends.

Assuming that leadership has identified the mission, goals, and strategies, the critical next level of detail is identification of specific projects that will carry out the strategies. These projects become candidates for inclusion in the organization's project portfolio. This map may be referred to as the strategic plan. When you follow it from right to left, it describes exactly what you will do to deliver on each strategy, which should result in achieving the goals and mission of the organization. Applying effective project management process, a fifth level of detail, is added to the plan. Each project candidate is defined in greater detail outlining outcomes, resource requirements, and potential time lines and accountabilities. The more explicit the plan is, the higher is the probability that the goals will be achieved. Figure 4.1-2 provides a snapshot of sample goals with links to strategies and potential projects.

Figure 4.1-1 Strategic Linkage in Project Portfolio

Figure 4.1-1 Strategic Linkage in Project Portfolio

Ends: Means: What:

Desired Methods Actions outcomes to achieve we will them take

Ends: Means: What:

Desired Methods Actions outcomes to achieve we will them take

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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