Strategic planning has a problem.
Digital has changed the way we do business, and the traditional approach of lengthy deliberation and maximum information is broken. Your strategy risks being obsolete before it’s finished.
Yet, the companies who succeed in this new digital environment continue to put strategy and insight at the heart of their business.
How, in the words of Tim Leberecht, do we run fast and go deep at the same time?
Over the last 12 months, we’ve been exploring methods for ‘speeding up’ the strategic planning and delivery process for digital.
Rapid Strategy is the result.
This process takes principles from agile, design thinking and innovation methodologies, and combines them with best practice strategic planning, where hard choices are made to achieve business goals.
Our approach understands what the architects of the Agile Manifesto talked about; to quote Jim Highsmith, “we plan, but recognise the limits of planning in a turbulent environment.”
The outcome is a faster, more responsive approach to developing and implementing digital programmes, without sacrificing insight or quality.
Here’s how Rapid Strategy works:
Rapid Strategy is effective for three primary reasons:
1. The minimum to get you moving
Strategic planning often begins with a lengthy discovery process. Here, key facts and information are uncovered via in-depth audits or exhaustive periods of research.
Given the rapid evolution of customer behaviours and digital technologies, the first issue we wanted to address was: how do you get the industry, business and customer information you need, without taking months to get it?
The answer is: you don’t. You don’t try to get the full picture. Instead, decide “what is the minimum you need to know to move forward?”
This gets to the heart of good strategy – the ability to make hard choices and prioritise one area of focus over another.
If your organisation is stuck in a digital rut, or suffering paralysis by analysis, then by learning to work with incomplete information, you will be compelled to get out of the blocks and begin making progress.
“An organisation’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage”
— Jack Welch
2. Useful information, quickly
Imagine you’re a commander on a battlefield. You’ve prepared a strategy, and a set of tactics, that you believe have the best chance of defeating the enemy. You have one shot to get it right – success or failure, glory or defeat.
Now, imagine if you could test multiple different strategic ideas against the enemy, before committing your troops to the battlefield. Imagine if you could mount a series of guerilla raids that glean a mountain of useful insight, without great cost or sacrifice, and without revealing your position. What advantages might that provide when the time comes to say ‘Charge!’?
With Rapid Strategy, you can.
At the heart of our approach, is the use of quick, cheap and discreet experiments to test business assumptions.
Used this way, assumptions become powerful tools for business learning. When we ask the question, ‘what is the minimum we need to know to move forward?’, an assumption is often the starting point. Using this as our minimum, we can test and challenge it, to ensure we move forward with reliable information.
“Invest in experiments to quickly, cheaply and easily gain insight into solving problems and exploiting opportunities.”
– Michael Schrage, The Innovator’s Hypothesis
From these results, serious strategic decisions, and tactical refinements, can be made more quickly, and oftentimes with greater certainty, than using traditional methods.
3. Agile execution, bespoke teams
A strategy is not a strategy without a plan of action. Execution has always been critical to success, but as the line between strategy and tactics becomes increasingly blurred, this becomes even more true.
It is always more helpful to see a strategy in action, than to see it as a theory on the page. If agile talks about ‘working software’, we talk about ‘working strategy’.
Rapid Strategy advocates for this approach; short, rapid phases of execution, building on the stages before it, and accumulating to deliver a larger piece of work.
We deliver this via a partnership model, assembling and managing bespoke teams of trusted experts around your project. This ensures the appropriate fit and capability, in turn delivering optimal value.
We strongly believe that Rapid Strategy will deliver greater digital clarity, value and performance to your business. If these sound like results you would be interested in, please do contact us.