Strategy as a Menu

When an organization starts out, it has a simple strategy. It has some goals and a set of activities to use to achieve them. Then, if that organization is successful, it’ll grow. It starts taking on more and more activities and before you know it, the simple strategy is lost or is morphed beyond recognition. In some ways this is ok–a strategy should evolve over time. But not passively. It needs to evolve with intention.

At some point, the people in the organization need to sit down and assess that list of activities with well thought out criteria, then name the set of activities that they are really good at and say no to the rest. Saying no is hard because some of the activities that you say no to are ones that you enjoy. But they kill focus. So put them away for now.

If strategy were a menu, we could think of it like this: Don’t keep adding things to the menu ’til you have an eight-page laminated nightmare that’s “fun for the entire family!” Instead, design and write out a simple one-pager, print it out on nice lightly textured paper with an elegant font. It should tell the story of exactly who you are and what you can deliver. Then target the folks who want to dine at your table.

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