Being Strategic: Plan for Success; Out-think Your Competitors; Stay Ahead of Change

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9780312656706: Being Strategic: Plan for Success; Out-think Your Competitors; Stay Ahead of Change
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Strategy? Tactics? Confused?

How many times have you sat in a meeting and heard someone say, "We're not being very strategic" or "We need to approach this more strategically"? If your organization is like most, everyone in the meeting nods wisely, the meeting drones on, people endlessly debate how to approach the situation at hand, and no one is the wiser as to what "strategic" really means.

Next time, say this: "Being strategic means consistently making those core directional choices that will best move us toward our hoped-for future. Is this what we're doing?"

Everybody talks about strategy, but there is a big gap between discussing strategy and using a practically strategic approach to achieving the business, the career, or the life you most want.

In this book, Erika Andersen offers you a step-by-step model and skills for making being strategic a powerful habit of mind and action:

· First, get clear about the problem you're trying to solve.
· Then, figure out where you're starting from.
· Now, envision your "castle on the hill," the future you want to create.
· Identify the "trolls under the bridge," the obstacles in your path.
· Next, outline the path to the castle: your core strategies and the tactics for implementing them.
· Keep updating your strategic roadmap as you move toward your vision.

With this model and dozens of real-life examples, Being Strategic will help you approach business―and life―strategically.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Erika Andersen is the founder of Proteus International, an organizational development firm whose clients include celebrity restaurateur Danny Meyer, MTV Networks, Rockwell Automation, Comcast Corp., General Electric, Time Inc., and NBC Universal.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One

The Castle on the Hill

I'm fascinated by castles. It's one of the many reasons I love Wales, a quirky, ancient little country with more castles per square mile than any other country in Europe. I'm fascinated by them at least partly because they provide such a grand metaphor for the idea of thinking strategically. There's a castle of which I'm especially fond: it sits up on a hill, tucked away in the far northwest corner of Wales, with the little village of Criccieth spread out around it. There's not much left of the castle now—parts of two gate house towers and some low stone walls—but you can squint your eyes and see what it would have looked like eight hundred years ago, high on its promontory overlooking both Cardigan Bay and the surrounding countryside. (For more about Criccieth and its castle, go to www.beingstrategic.com.)

Imagine what must have been required to create such an edifice, all those hundreds of years ago. Not just the building of it—the months or years of grueling labor in all kinds of weather; people and animals, tools and stone—but more than that. Thinking through the idea and then pulling together the diverse resources and support needed to make it a reality—all without benefit of modern machines, modern technology, or modern communication.

And I realize it could only have arisen from a very clear intention, sustained over time: consistently making those core directional choices that will best move you toward your hoped-for future. In short, successfully building a castle, especially on a cliff over the sea in the wild northwest of Wales in 1230, called for someone to be very strategic.

That someone was a guy named Llewellyn Fawr (pronounced "Thloo-ell in Vahr"), Prince of North Wales at the time. "Fawr" means roughly "the Great" in Welsh, so you can see what folks thought of him (and his castles) even then. Let's follow him around for a little while in our imagination, just to get a feel for him being strategic.

Llewellyn stands on the beach, looking out at the Irish raiders in their boats. He and his men have just beaten them back into the sea, and he's wondering yet again how he can keep his lands intact and thriving, how he can fend off not only the Irish but also the Normans, the Danes, and whoever else wants a piece of his domain. He thinks to himself: How can we best protect and defend ourselves from our enemies?

He thinks about all his resources and difficulties. On the one hand, the Welsh are brave and tough, good fighters and loyal to their prince. They know the land and how to best live on it and work it. Their farms and hunters provide enough to feed and clothe them, and they're not dependent on outsiders for necessities. On the other hand, like any land-based people, they're at the mercy of the weather, and they don't have a ready source for new or better weaponry. They have a number of enemies, but they're somewhat protected on the east by the high, rugged mountains. Having the sea on their other borders means enemies are easy to spot long before they arrive. He knows the Irish are spread very thin and are trying to do too much right now. However, he also knows the Normans, in the other direction, aren't spread thin—and their endless urge for conquest is deeply worrying.

He also thinks about history. He knows his father's and grandfathers' successes, and he knows their mistakes. For instance, he's learned from the past that fortifications built from wood are neither very secure nor very permanent, and that building in high places works well, from both a defensive and an offensive standpoint. He knows what his people are passionate about and what isn't important to them. They care about the land and their families and being independent—and they have traditionally cared less about abstract ideals of nation and statecraft.

With this clear sense of himself and his people—of where they've come from, what they have going for them, and what they're up against—Llewellyn starts to look toward the future. He calls together his nobles, and he shares with them his reflections on their common history and their current situation. Then he says to them—in thirteenth-century Welsh, of course—"So, my friends, given all this, how can we best protect and defend ourselves and our people from our enemies?"

After much discussion (and many cups of mead), the group comes to the conclusion that the core of that safe and strong future would be a well-built, fully defensible, and strongly fortified castle on the hill before them, providing excellent oversight of the sea to the south and west and the land to the north and east. They've got a pretty clear overall agreement on how it will work, what it will look like, and what it will do to protect them.

Having agreed to that, they bid each other good night and promise to start deciding how to make it a reality in the morning (when the mead wears off). . . .

We'll come back to our medieval Welsh nobles in a few minutes, but for now, here we are, back in the twenty-first century. And I'll bet you're wondering why I've led you down this particular path. Let me explain myself.

In the introduction (if you haven't yet read it, you may want to go back and do so, or you'll keep wondering what I'm talking about), I told you that from my point of view, being strategic is a learnable skill, like playing chess or doing carpentry. And like both of those skills, being strategic involves learning to think in specific, patterned ways and then acting based on that thinking.

I'm using Llewellyn, his men (sorry it's all men—remember, this is the thirteenth century), and his castle to talk about this way of thinking and acting because it's just such a wonderful example—and also because it allows me to then use the metaphor of "the castle on the hill" throughout the book! So, let's go back to Llewellyn and his entourage and see what they do next:

The Welshmen meet again around the council table bright and early the next day, ready to figure out how to achieve that safe and strong future they've envisioned for themselves, that castle on the hill.

First, though, Llewellyn encourages them to think about what they're going to have to overcome in order to do this. One guy, Gryffudd (pronounced "Griffith"), notes that they haven't built a castle like this before; they've only made wooden hill forts. Some others point out that the hill is really steep and while that's great in terms of defense from enemies, it's going to make it a real pain getting men and supplies up there to build the thing. Finally, Dafydd (pronounced "Dahvith") and Owain (pronounced "Oh-wayn"), the captains of the guard, point out that there's no guarantee they won't be attacked while they're building, and they'd be more vulnerable than usual, with all their able-bodied men engaged in the construction. Llewellyn agrees with everything and throws in a few more problems: the time and energy required to transport the stone and the fact that anybody who's building the castle won't be able to tend his fields.

After that, there's a lot of talking—the Welsh are enthusiastic and skillful talkers and arguers—but by the time the sun is overhead, they've agreed on the most important efforts they need to make, given where they're starting from, where they're trying to go, and the obstacles that exist. Llewellyn summarizes, "All right, my nobles, here's what we've decided: First, we need to design the castle—a castle that will protect us and that we can build with the skills and materials we have access to. Second, we need to decide how we'll build it—the whole process from start to finish. Third, we need to figure out how to defend and provision ourselves while it's being built. Is that about it?"

All the men nod their assent. "Good," Llewellyn continues. "Gryffudd, you're in charge of deciding the design of the thing. Ifor [pronounced 'Ih-vor'], you're in charge of figuring out how to build it. Dafydd, you and Owain create the backup defense and provisioning plan. Be back here in two weeks to recommend what, who, and when."

As the meeting breaks up, Gryffudd immediately turns to his cousin Hwyl (pronounced "Hoo-il"), who has been spying on the Norman fortifications in Shrewsbury, to ask him to help create an approach for designing the castle, incorporating the techniques the Normans use so well. Ifor leaves to find Teilo (pronounced "Day-lo"), who is great at organizing men and supplies. Dafydd sits down with Owain and the biggest landholders to think about a secondary defense and provisioning plan.

They're on their way to their castle on the hill.

Now, of course, I'm mostly making this up out of whole cloth. But I can only imagine it took place something like this, because there it is, almost eight hundred years later, Criccieth Castle, a monument to their clear intention and well-planned execution. So let's pretend that it all happened just like this, an amazingly clear example of the model I'm about to share with you:

DEFINE THE CHALLENGE: In my definition of being strategic, you'll notice that the last four words are "toward your hoped-for future." This implies, of course, that you've figured out what aspect of your future you're looking toward! Defining the challenge allows you to get clear about this. Generally, the most useful way to define your challenge is to find a "How can I . . . ?" or "How can we . . . ?" question that best summarizes the problem you're trying to solve or the goal you're trying to reach. For our Welsh prince, Llewellyn, the question was, "How can we best pro...

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Book Description Griffin Publishing, United States, 2010. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. We all think we know the difference between strategy and tactics - the big picture versus the details. But we mostly get it wrong by focusing too much on tactics and too little on strategy. In Being Strategic , noted consultant Erika Andersen helps the reader approach business - and life - strategically, explaining why it s important, what s involved in doing it, and how to do it. Unlike most other strategy books on the market, which focus only on organization-level strategic planning, Being Strategic offers a model and skills for strategic thought and action that are broadly applicable and thoroughly practical: explaining the core skills and practices needed at each point, and providing simple models, real-life examples and self-directed activities for learning and applying them. Andersen uses a very accessible frame story of thirteenth century Welsh nobles building a castle for protection, and weaves in dozens of real-life examples from her practice, which has helped top restaurateur Danny Meyer and many others. With Being Strategic , Andersen offers a complete course in turning around a business, or even life. Seller Inventory # AAS9780312656706

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