Keep it simple

When one thinks about ‘organization strategy’, a 50 slide deck with complicated graphs and 20 colors comes to mind. Somehow we imagine strategy to be a scary beast that seasoned management arrives at after careful research and planning. That is why most of us find it hard to articulate our company strategy. We save the deck away carefully after the presentation and only open it a year later to try and remember what was articulated and how we can make the numbers look like we got there.

Honestly, what could be farther from strategy? The core purpose of strategy is to align organizations, rally them behind the vision and have it executed by every rung of the organization. How will you achieve all that by something that can’t even be explained in a conversation?

Real strategy is simple. It is something that “the doorman understands”, as Subroto Bagchi says in his book, The Elephant Catchers. His idea is simple too – strategy needs to be something so simple that everyone gets it. Only then can people get behind it. Because the proof of a good strategy is in its execution, and for that you need the organization aligned 100%.

But more important than being simple, continues Bagchi, a great strategy is an act of emotion. It is far-fetched, it is unreasonable, and it is powerful. Only then will it be memorable. Only then will it stir up the troops, because the battle to scale is not an easy one.

I am sold on this concept. I think an obvious corollary of this idea is the immense importance of actually having a strategy – a vision. An idea so simple and powerful that it gets everyone pedaling in the same direction, overcoming all the fears and apprehensions of scale and change. No one every got inspired by senior management locked up in a room and deciding on the company’s 5-year plan while everyone went along with business as usual. But with a leader who clearly articulates the one thing that the company needs to achieve as a team, repeats it at every occasion and to every employee – well, now we’re in business, quite literally.