Strategy for Dummies

Greg Knopp, Vice President at American Council of Engineering Companies and GAIN Advisory Board Member

Greg Knopp, Vice President at
American Council of Engineering Companies and GAIN Advisory Board Member

If you Google “strategy” or “strategic planning” you could spend the next several years reading different perspectives, such as competing theories (Chamberlain vs, Minztberg anyone?), its importance (everything from business to the NFL draft), or its methods (don’t forget your SWOT Analysis, which is always fun to say to an annoying colleague).

It’s obvious that a person or organization should have a strategy in mind when setting up long-term goals, but could strategy be the most confusing, overused and misunderstood concept in the world today?

The word strategy has ancient Greek military roots and generally meant the “art” of troop leadership or in reference to the office of the commanding general. It’s currently used to mean a high-level plan to achieve one or more primary organizational goals. To achieve your strategy, we‘re told to break it down into secondary goals – as well as groups of skills or objectives (often referred to as tactics) – to accomplish the overall mission.

This issue of the PIN newsletter includes articles on the importance of strategic planning to meet your political program goals, including PAC fundraising and disbursements and important election year activities. Be sure to make them “SMART” – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based.

Michael Porter, a distinguished professor at the Harvard Business School, known for his theories on economics, business strategy and social causes, likes to say that strategy is about making choices and trade-offs; it’s about deliberately choosing your route and rules, and is as much about what you will not do, as what you will. Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO of Facebook, advises that almost any strategy is better than none. He warns that “the biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that changes quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”

In its purest form, strategy is about looking at ways to solve a problem or looking at a problem differently. However, Naveen Jain, a successful tech entrepreneur, believes success doesn’t necessarily come from breakthrough innovation but from flawless execution. He believes a great strategy alone won’t win the day, rather, success comes from mastering the basics of the plan, in his words, “the blocking and tackling.”

Let’s not make this more complex than it is. If you want to succeed, having goals and a plan is a good place to start. Germany Kent , journalist, model, producer, social media diva, activist and the author of the best-seller The Hope Handbook, has a basic, seven-point plan for helping you on your journey for strategic success:

  1. Start

  2. Don’t make excuses

  3. Celebrate small steps

  4. Ignore critics

  5. Be consistent

  6. Be open

  7. Stay Positive

Seems simple enough.

Some final advice from William Hague, a leader in the British House of Commons: “There’s only one growth strategy: work hard.”

Good luck!

This article was originally posted by the Public Affairs Council.