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What Makes a Good Strategy?

Dennis Stevens
Reading: What Makes a Good Strategy?
In this clip, Dennis Stevens explains the necessary components that make up a good strategy.
  • A diagnosis of the problem
  • A guiding policy for dealing with the challenge, and…
  • A set of coherent actions designed to carry out the guiding policy
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Video Transcript

The things that belong in a good strategy are a diagnosis of the problem. We’ve gotta be able to talk about what the actual problem is. We have to be able to have a guiding principle or a guiding policy for dealing with the challenge. How are we going to close the gap that we have? And we need a set of coherent actions designed to carry out the guiding policy. That’s the plan part, but having a plan that doesn’t tie to the policy or the rules of the game that we’re doing to close the gap that we’ve identified, the gap between our ability to execute and where we need to in order to achieve the strategy. That stuff has to be pretty clear. And that lack of connectivity, I think is a problem. And when you have ambiguity, it’s very, very hard to pivot until you get done, right?

So I think the lack of clarity in the assumptions and the lack of connectedness of the work that we’re doing makes it really hard for organizations to pivot. I think this connectedness, this clarity becomes more and more important as we have to move faster and faster. Particularly when projects start to compete for shared resources with each other. So what happens is you’ve got some of those basic platform things and you’ve got 30 projects all competing for that platform now, right? Cause we have all these integrated products and it’s very hard to prioritize the individual feature request against that platform because they’re all number ones. You guys have heard that conversation? So how do we start to prioritize at a higher level, and this is a fallback from fire and forget and get my thing started cause it won’t get killed.

So we have to get all those projects into the pipe on day one. So that’s like a broken part of the process. And if working on a thousand things at once, or being pulled in 20 directions at once resonates with you? That is not a result of bad execution or bad technology, that’s a result of bad connecting to strategy. Right? Because you can’t get away from the dependencies because you got to solve the problems you’ve got to solve. This digital interactive stuff is stuff that has to happen, right? So how are we going to solve that problem? And I don’t think it’s necessarily by getting better at how we execute software. I think that’s an important component of it. But I think it’s insufficient.

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LeadingAgile COO and Co-Founder, Dennis Stevens has been helping organizations solve the challenges associated with product development in larger, more complex enterprises for over 25 years – leading major projects and Agile transformations in many global enterprises. He helped bring Agile to PMI: serving on the steering committee of the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner, as past leader of the PMI Global Community of Practice, and is currently the Vice Chair on the Software Extension to the PMBOK.

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