March 15, 2010
The title of this entry is taken from an article of the same name, which appeared in the Harvard Business Review in 1996. The article was written by Michael Porter (“we’re not worthy”) and is viewed as a classic in business circles. I have returned to this article on numerous occasions and always come away reminded of the basics of strategy (not to be confused with the process of strategic planning, which can only be done well once we understand fully what strategy actually is). I’d like to share some of the basics of strategy with you.
First, as Porter reminds us, operational effectivenessis a given. If you develop a plan that is aimed at doing more things, doing things better, or doing things more efficiently, you do not yet have an organizational strategy. What you have is…well, it is a plan for operational effectiveness. A plan that is truly strategic in nature encompasses the following:
The key concept in all of this is organizational choice. The opposite of this is organizational tentativeness or, worse yet, organizational paralysis. The whole point of strategic planning is to determine where your organization needs to be positioned for long-term viability and effectiveness. Even if we can’t predict what the journey to that position will look like in all its operational detail, we at least ought to be firm in who we are, where we fit in, and where need to be headed.
Thus is the essence of strategy.
Need Additional Assistance?
If you are interested in going deeper into your nonprofit strategy or if you wish to review your organizational strategy more
broadly, click the link below to schedule a 30-minute phone or zoom consultation with Mike Stone.
Sign up to stay connected