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The 7 Elements of Strategy (for high performance)

Unless you are a clairvoyant, the future is unknown. Can you define a strategy for the unknown?

A man standing alone on a dock going into the ocean, looking out at the horizon, seeing nothing... Describing the future
Where do you think you´ re going? Photo: Joshua Earl/Unsplash

Strategy is what you do. Collectively. Every day. Every hour. Every decision made. Minor or major. Every project and relation. Every party or celebration. Every client you loose or win, every employee coming or leaving. Every detail. Every resource allocated. Your strategy is a pattern of your investments over time.

Studies at University of St Gallen and London Business School define the relation between an organizations belief in success, understanding of strategy, dedication, management quality and its level of productive energy. (You can read this by Professor Heike Bruch if you want to dig into the subject of energy and high performing organizations).

The practical answer to this is complex, but if you base your directions on purpose based thinking and purpose based strategy - if you build upon something understandable, something your stakeholders believe in and your organization gets excited and feel dedication about, you increase your chances to become attractive, to grow, to be profitable, to hire the right people, to create a culture of energy, quality and future orientation.

Be bold, but not pretentious. The Seven Elements of Strategy is the process of going from wishful thinking to become a lean and mean machine on a clear mission

Purpose or opportunism? What kind of strategic thinker are you? (Article in Norwegian only)

The challenge is to make 85% of your total costs truly flourish.

In competence and tech industries, actually in all office-based workplaces, either governmental or private - of all costs, people-related costs are about 80-85% (reference is Norway). The purpose of management is obvious: The main task for management is to attract, keep and develop talents - of any age - and to make sure they flourish and work together to the max benefit of a defined mission, subsequently resulting in a company with higher performance.

Create a driving force and dedication in the organization. This is purpose based management.

Most managers and CEOs express the opinion that people and culture are their most important asset and resource. This perspective should be reflected in how you describe and communicate the why and how, the vision, mission, ambition and role in this world.

By clarifying your true reason to exist (relevant to all your stakeholders), you give direction for development and change, for innovation and improvements, for financial investments and general (or targeted) attractiveness.

Make your people proud and committed, build your team and support a desired culture, no matter if you are big or small.

What is the purpose of purpose? Read at least this article in Harvard Business Review

When it comes to The Future, one thing is certain; we know close to nothing.

We guess, we follow others and we act on prognosis to make them self-fulfilling. Some times it is ok, some times not. That is why your plan to move forward must build upon your perspective, your belief in something. Define your strategic narrativ from your vision, mission, ambition and how you are going to deliver. Nurture your culture, your qualities, the value you provide, how you add something good to your universe.

Show me another car brand willing to crash their car for a photo-shoot? This Volvo ad is one of the most beautiful car ads I know. Most car brands love their own lines or design and they talk about driving experiences. Diving into the sea of sameness.
The Volvo mission was to deliver the safest place to be if a road accident happened. The vision could have been "no kills in car accidents"?

The purpose based approach does not end the idea of 3 year plans, not even 8 year plans...

I attended a program at INSEAD outside Paris some years back. I remember some of the outtakes from there especially from the late Professor D Heau. He told us that the definition of strategy as a plan to reach the goal is equal to wishful thinking... But still, we need plans. And it is not a good idea to close down the departments of trend-studies even though they look back to look forward. It is not recommended to end the qualified guessing going on in your departement for prognosis. But I would recommend more scenario-thinking. It is up to you.

To be visionary and guided by a mission statement increase your possibility to be innovative, relevant and even disruptive. If you dare to attack your own business model.

Breen/StrategiSprint is about defining a vision based upon your idea of what the world needs, a reason to exist, a raison d'être. What role do you believe is needed, what challenges should be met, what tensions should be released or solved in the universe you define. I can not think of a greater achievement than the moon landing in 1969. The vision. The mission. The innovation. The dedication... The strategic initiatives. The pattern of investments... The plan. The 8 year plan.

A man on the moon illustrating John F Kennedys speach in 1961.
A eight year plan, from 1961-1969. Bringing man to the moon and safely back. A mandate based on a mission. Amazing. Photo: History in HD/Unsplash
“We choose to go to the Moon ... not because they are easy but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win...” (John F Kennedy, 1961)

The Seven Elements of Strategy

This Seven Element approach is how strategy is processed in Breen/StrategiSprint. The agenda is always adapted to the specific challenges you have, but these are The Seven Elements that are discussed.

  1. Open up your visionary thinking and perspective. This is about describing your purpose as a torch in what else can be the sea of sameness. Define your universe (not your target group), define the value you add to it, describe your role, your purpose. Be bold, but not pretentious

  2. Describe your mission related to your vision/perspective. Write and rewrite your mission statement. Make it work. Some call this your why

  3. Envision your ambitions. In Breen/StrategiSprint we do this in three parts: What is your ambition in positioning, what is your business-ambition and what is your ambition regarding how the world perceive you, talk about you, relate to you. If your mission is complex, define your business platforms and discuss your brand hierarchy.

  4. Describe desired culture and competence - the basics for organizing and management, for employer branding and culture, for delivering and quality, for marketing and relations.

  5. Define foundations for branding and identity. Write your strategic narrativ and include your personality and style. How are you? How do you act? How do you look, smell, sound, feel?

  6. Develop and describe basic communication strategies - what are you saying to whom and why. What should your different target groups and stakeholders know and feel about you, how to build a position that helps your to get successful in 1-3? Do not forget the internal target groups.

  7. Define strategic initiatives with purpose, responsibility and deadlines. These are the WHATs, the logical next steps, mandates for projects of change (what to do more, less or new), how to create growth and sustainable profits. This directs the strategic implementation and creates the truth about you, over time it is in the initiatives and your doings that you deliver your mission and use your strategic narrative as torch, inspiration and source for energy

Alignment of a mission statement is the basis for purpose based management. Breen/StrategiSprint is a 49 hours workshop, specially designed and facilitated for management teams motivated to get forward



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