Who is your strategy document for?

If you’re a leader within a large organization, sooner or later you’ll need to develop a strategy — recommendations on how to respond to an event or take advantage of a change in the world. You’ll do some research, talk to people and think a lot.

When the vision is clear in your head, typically the next step is to get everything down on paper so your strategy can get vetted, approved and implemented. Here’s where everything slide sideways quicker than a Texas driver in an ice storm.

One Size Does Not Fit All

You need to remember that a LOT of people need to know about your idea, from the top executive to the worker who will eventually implement your vision. And they need to be treated differently. “Maximize shareholder value” might have meaning for the CEO but it sure sounds like vapour to someone who is working with customers all day.

But Everyone Loves a Story

Execs may claim to be all about the numbers, but they still need to get some emotional attachment before your big idea will really resonate. Storytelling, examples, pictures, colour all help spread your idea and make it stick with people, no matter who they are.

So what should I write?

If your idea is important, and it needs to spread, then you’re going to have to spread your idea many ways. Time to get over the false hope that a single document will inspire everyone in your company to see the light. Here’s some ideas on how to get different audiences to respond to your strategy:

  • You can’t avoid the standard documents: Execs probably require standard documents like business cases, standard item descriptions and presentation layouts. They’re not fun but they’re required. Do them.
  • Make it fun and make it real: Leave the business case in your desk and take a strong presentation on the road to talk to workgroups. Lots of colour, pictures, stories and a strong image of the future. You’ll gain credibility and some allies.
  • Give them something to share: An entertaining ebook that describes your vision and the journey to achieve it is a great giveaway to help your allies spread the word for you.

It’s worth it!

Sure, it’s a lot of work building a collection of documents and presentations to get your ideas across to a variety of audiences. But it’s a really big idea, right? Right? If it’s not worth the effort then you’re better off stepping back to the research / talking / thinking phase.

Photo by Noeluap.