What is Strategy?

Curt Fowler

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Despite all the consultants in the world wanting you to believe that you could never comprehend strategy at "their level", strategy is quite simple. Strategy is simply a plan to get from point A (where you are at today) to point B (where you want to be at a future date).

All of us use strategy each and every day. Most of us have a strategy to accomplish even the simplest things in life, even just getting out of bed. Does anyone else place their alarm across the room??

I have strategies for fitness, sales, family, church and how I plan to become a gazillionaire (all are a work in progress).

If strategy is so simple, then why do we so regularly fail to accomplish our goals in business and life?

We fail because we set goals and assume strategy naturally follows. Strategy involves intentionality, making conscious decisions that will shape your future. Of course, you have to set goals. But it's the strategy that ultimately makes those goals a reality.

Let's look at a common example: Weight loss. This is my favorite example because other than a few genetic freaks in the world, we've all had to deal with this or will in the future.

Let's say my goal is to lose 10 pounds. Sounds easy enough, right? In order to get down to business, I need to make this goal SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Responsible Person, and Time Specific).

    Specific: 10 pounds sounds pretty specific, but I'll need to get on the scale to     determine how much I weigh today before this gets really specific. Let's say I weigh     170 today. 170-10=160 pound goal weight. So, my goal is to weigh 160 pounds.

    Measurable: How will I measure the success of my goal? Probably, my bathroom     scale. Measurable, check!

    Attainable:  Is losing 10 pounds attainable or even advisable? If I give myself enough     time to achieve the goal so that my weight loss is safe, losing 10 pounds is certainly     doable for me. I've got the pounds to spare.

    Responsible Person: Who is responsible for this goal? Just me. Responsible, check!

    Time: What date in the future is this goal due? If I start this goal on January 1 and     say I can safely lose 2 pounds per week, then I should be able to accomplish this     goal in 5 weeks or by February 5th.

So, my SMART goal is to weigh 160 pounds by February 5, 2014. The big question is, how am I going to do it? This is where strategy comes in to play. Here a few questions you'll need to ask yourself to begin creating your strategy:

  • Why do you want to lose weight? Not your superficial why, but your real why. The why that will motivate you when you think you are starving to death (by the way, you are not).
  • Have I tried and failed at this goal previously? Why? What am I going to do differently this time?
  • How am I going to declare this goal publicly and be held accountable?
  • What am I going to eat or not eat?
  • How many calories will I consume each day?
  • How much will I exercise?
  • What will my checkpoints be (weekly weigh ins, measurements, etc)?
  • How will I adjust my plan if the results are not what I need to meet my goal?

NEVER, EVER be afraid of setting huge goals and falling flat on your tail. (in business or in other areas of your life). Failing is a pre-requisite for success. Without failure, you can never learn, you can never grow and you can never achieve great things. I have a one and a two year old at home. One of them walks and one is very close to figuring it out. If my one year old quit trying to walk after her first, fifth or even her fiftieth fall she would never learn to walk! The same goes for you. If you quit, you'll never learn the lesson.

Keep your child like determination, forget about your ego and set SMART goals and the strategies to achieve them. 

"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure..than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat." 

             - Theodore Roosevelt (26th President of the United States)

About Curt Fowler

Curt Fowler is the President and Founder of Fowler & Company, a business advisory firm founded to help its clients maximize the value of their organizations. Curt is a Certified Public Accountant and earned his Masters in Accountancy from the University of Georgia. He also earned an MBA in Strategy and Entrepreneurship from the Kellogg School at Northwestern. He has spent 20 years studying and learning from some of the best businesses in America including Verizon, Sara Lee, Cox Communications and many more.