Strategy is choosing to win and increases your chance of success (or de-risks the overall effort). Conversely, companies without winning strategies eventually will fade away. Roger Martin, author of Playing to Win: How Strategy Works, defined the five common mistakes that lead to a poor strategy.
Five Traps of a Poor Strategy
Do It All Strategy – Doing everything and failing to make any choices. Strategy is about making choices, and such a strategy is absent of choices.
Don Quixote Strategy – Taking on the strongest competitor first head to head or choosing to initially attack an opponent’s stronghold as part of an opening strategy.
Waterloo Strategy – Taking on multiple fronts at the same time fighting multiple opponents (and doing so weakly)
Dream That Never Comes True – Building high-level aspirations that never translate into a strategy
Program of the Month – Buying into a generic strategy that looks very similar to your competitors. Chasing the same goals in similar ways is a recipe for failure.
Understanding the five traps of poor strategy is a good start to knowing when you are not making the right kind of strategic choices. I was surprised how strategy is misunderstood in the corporate world. So many organizations believe they have a strategy when they do not. Some companies chase what is en vogue at the moment, constantly shifting their direction. Other businesses try to be all things to everyone avoiding making choices.
Developing a strategy does not have to be complicated. Willingness to define where you want to take your business and what choices and trade-offs you are willing to take. Roger Martin has a blog that makes strategy straightforward and accessible that I recommend reading.