One of our guiding principles here at thinks is not only to do things right, but to do the right things. Erika Andersen, in her book Being Strategic: Plan for Success; Out-think Your Competitors; Stay Ahead of Change, shows you exactly how to do that. Building on a simple premise – that strategy flows from a consistent effort towards a well-defined goal – Andersen describes a useful process for all types of business. As she notes:
“Being strategic means consistently making those core directional choices that will best move you toward your hoped-for future.”
And much like the approach she advocates in her book, Andersen continually reinforces these principles, moving consistently in the direction of helping her reader become both a strategic thinker and doer. Andersen builds steadily towards the goal, focusing first on how to assess current reality, then on identifying obstacles, and finally on defining both the key strategies that will drive your business forward and the path you’ll use to get there.
Of course, the best strategies in the world don’t matter if you can’t execute, and it’s here that Andersen really shows the most value. The book shines a bright light into the dark corners of how to turn the most common obstacles – peer resistance and your own preconceptions – to your advantage. A very elegant solution, indeed.
Ironically, this week provided a real-world example of how effective companies that really understand strategy can be. Amazon’s purchase of Zappo’s yesterday illustrates precisely what Andersen means by “consistently making core choices toward a hoped-for future.” What Amazon displayed so ably is the difference between their core strategy – “become the premier online retailer of footwear and apparel” – and a tactic like “launch our own footwear and apparel brand.” By picking up Zappos, Amazon immediately gets closer to their “hoped-for future” than they had with their home-built Endless.com brand.
Buy Being Strategic. And don’t be surprised when you find yourself making the core directional choices that move you toward your hoped-for future, too.
Oh, and I recommend you catch Andersen’s appearance on the CBS Early Show tomorrow. She’ll talk about the book and provide guidance on how you can be more strategic. Should be worth viewing if you get the chance.
UPDATED: Here’s the video of Andersen’s appearance on the Early Show, in case you missed it:
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