February 11, by LSB

Is your strategy working? Confront the brutal facts

New article published by Dr. Marc Sniukas, Associate Professor of Management & Innovation at Luxembourg School of Business.

When you start thinking about your strategy, you first need to honestly evaluate what is going on, both inside your organization and in the market. Especially if there’s a lot of change in the environment like we have seen for the last couple of months.

Below is a list of questions to ask yourself and discuss with your team.

Step 1: What’s happening inside?

You first need to understand what’s happening within your company. I suggest you look at two things: your strategy and what I call the “9 pillars of your organization”.

Assess your strategy

Start by describing your current strategy. Pick any framework that you prefer working with, as long as it covers these four essential questions:

  • What business are we in?
  • Who is our ideal target customer?
  • What products and services do we offer?
  • How are we doing this?

Below is a table from my first book, which further decomposes these questions, if you’d like to dig a little deeper.

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Other frameworks that work well at this stage are Lafley and Martin’s Strategy Cascade and my adapted version based on Art of Opportunity.

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Once you have described your strategy, ask yourself:

  • Is this our theoretical strategy, or do we really live it?
  • How well is it executed and lived?
  • What works well?
  • What does not work well?
  • Is it still fit for the current situation? If not, what do we need to adapt?

Assess the nine pillars of your organization

Once you have evaluated your strategy, assess how well your organization is doing along the following nine pillars:

  1. Ambitions: Are they clear? Are they ambitious? Are your priorities clear? Maybe you have some short priorities for the current pandemic but also think about longer-term ambitions you’d like to achieve.
  2. People & Organization: What’s the mood currently? What capabilities do you have? Are these the ones you need to realize your strategy and achieve your ambitions?
  3. Culture & Leadership: What are the core tenets of your culture? What’s your leadership like?
  4. Experiences & Engagement: How do you engage with your customers? Are you offering experiences?
  5. Branding: What’s your brand? Does it represent who you are and who you want to be?
  6. Operations: How fit are your operations? Do you leverage technology?
  7. Customer & Data: Do you have data about your business and your customers? How well do you use it? Do people have access to the data, or is it buried in Excel files?
  8. Financials: What’s your financial position? Cash Flow, margins, revenues, profit, the war chest.
  9. Ecosystems: What’s your ecosystem like? Do you have strong partnerships that enable you to create superior value?

Looking at these nine pillars: what are your strengths? What are your core capabilities? What weaknesses do you see?

To do a quick check, you can evaluate your performance, maturity or your satisfaction of these nine pillars on a scale from 0 to 10. Ask your colleagues to do the same. Doing this will produce great insights for lively conversations!

Step 2: What’s happening in the market?

After you have evaluated and drawn a clear picture of how well your current strategy is performing and what is happening within your organization, you need to also look at what’s happening around you.

Diagnose your market by looking at customer satisfaction, competition, market potential, etc. All the classics of strategic analysis. Use Porter’s 5 Forces, for example, or use more modern tools, like the Blue Ocean Strategy Canvas, to visualize your industry’s competitive factors and understand where there are blue oceans.

But don’t only analyze the here and now. Think about your industry trends, what disruptions do you see or could potentially happen in the future?

Summarize your insights by answering two questions:

  1. What is happening?
  2. How does it impact our industry?

Step 3: What does that mean for our strategy?

Having completed the steps above, the next conversation to what is “So what?” Align on the challenges you face and the issues that need to be solved.

  1. What’s the potential for our strategy considering the changes in the market? Does it still fit?
  2. Do we have the capabilities needed? Are we still fit for the future?
  3. What key issues do we see?
  4. What can we continue doing?
  5. What do we need to change?

Or maybe, all is well, and you have confirmed that your strategy is still valid. At least you’ll know and can feel confident about it.

Next week we’ll look more closely into your ambitions…just in case they might need a little review.

Until then…

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LSB Team

Luxembourg School of Business

Whether you are leading an organization, managing a team or interested in advancing in your career, the Weekend MBA help you achieve your career expectations.


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