Mastering the Building Blocks of Strategy
Creating strategy in today's environment of complex, ever-changing priorities and conflicting agendas is a daunting task. Decision makers can greatly increase their odds of building a winning plan of action by investing the necessary time and effort in developing a thorough, thoughtful approach to strategy. One pitfall to avoid is making the creation of strategy a "rigid, box-checking exercise." Formula-driven approaches tend to ignore the basic truth that strategy creation is a journey and a frequently messy one at that. The next challenge is shaping keen insights from diverse parties into good strategies. This requires deep interpersonal engagement and debate among senior leaders, along with the ability to deal with ambiguity in charged and often stressful circumstances. The article's authors outline a middle path — an end-to-end way of thinking — that views the creation of strategy not as a project, but indeed as a journey.

The authors write that organizations do best "when they ground all their strategy-development efforts and processes in an understanding of the building blocks of strategy." One of the central building blocks is figuring out the starting position of the organization (i.e., where and why it creates value). In addition, organizational leaders need a forecast, or rather a point of view, on how the future may unfold. By combining insights into an organization's starting position with a perspective on its future, board members can develop and explore alternative ways to move forward and ultimately succeed. Once a strategy is selected, an action plan can be created and resources can be allocated to deliver it. These core building blocks are book-ended by a couple of others. "One is an initial block to ensure that the team properly identifies and agrees to both the questions asked and the decisions made as the strategy is developed," the authors state. The second and final block is the constant monitoring and refreshing of the strategy as conditions change and new information becomes available.

McKinsey Quarterly (10/13) Bradley, Chris; Dawson, Angus; Montard, Antoine
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