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A Great Idea Is Not a Strategy

It always makes sense to learn about your customers' wants and needs. Great ideas for how to satisfy those wants and needs can come from up, down, and outside your organization and can become invaluable inputs to your strategic planning process.

But a list of ideas, even a sorted and filtered list, is not a strategy. Too often organizations chase promising ideas rather than develop a strategy. This is like trying to acquire a team of top athletes without first deciding which sport you intend to play. You may be able to build a team around a top athlete, just as you may be able to build your business around one fabulous idea, but that is the exception, not the rule.

A good strategic planning process looks at market needs, wants, and trends. It welcomes a plethora of ideas for providing value for which customers are willing to pay. But, most importantly, it rises above these individual inputs to develop a strategy that answers the bigger questions:

  • Which combination of offerings and markets would allow us to win profitably?
  • How will we win?
  • At what must we excel to win profitably?

If you chase even a few exciting ideas without creating a cohesive strategy, you are likely to find yourself stretched in too many directions:

  • New and multiple markets and marketing methods
  • New sales channels, relationships, and sales cycles
  • New customer priorities, requirements, decision-makers, and decision processes
  • New regulations, competitors, and barriers to entry
  • Multiple products and brands
  • New expertise, production capabilities, development cycles, quality levels, and employees
  • New investments

How many of these can you conquer with sufficient speed and effectiveness to beat the competition, win an abundance of customers, manage cash flow, deliver expected quality, and make a good profit? Not many. Don't chase an assortment of ideas. Develop a strong, cohesive strategy that allows you to focus your resources and win. 

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