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Customer Strategy

5.01 Understanding The Customer In-Depth

Stradigo

Understanding the Customer In-Depth — 5.01

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This blog will focus on understanding customers in-depth, and what it takes. In our book, we differentiate between customer orientation and understanding the customer in-depth. This blog explains how they differ from each other.

Drawing of two people standing beside each other. One wears blue clothes the other one wear green.

Customer perspective?

Let’s think about the term customer focus. What is it exactly? It’s a good term, and it means that we focus on the customer, like if we observe something with binoculars or through a magnifying glass. The key is to have the correct type of focus that fits your situation. Your situation brings requirements, and they need consideration. You may think this feels trivial, but it is very tough to make an organization understand the customer on a deep level in my experience.

Customer perspective inside-out

Very often, the organization puts focus on delivering a particular product or service to the customer. It is an inside-out approach, which is not a customer-focused approach. There’s another way to do this.

Customer perspective outside-in

Customer perspective outside-in

Here is an example of the alternative way that we think is the better way to this. What if it was possible to get access to information the customer sees the situation? Documentation is the bridge that allows us to achieve a deep level of customer understanding. We have analyzed the customer to such an extent that we have produced written material about it. Let’s think about your business for a bit. How much documentation do you have about your products? How much documentation do you have about your customer? Is the ratio a 50-50 split? Perhaps 30-60, or 10-90?

The goal you should aim for (in our opinion) is to conduct your business from an outside-in perspective. Take time to think about how the things you do genuinely help your customer? What is the Purpose of your activities? How does everything translate into practice? How do you turn everything into a great offer that is highly beneficial for your customer?

Internal processes

Flowchart representing process thinking with the aim of reaching a target group.

Let me tell you how I arrived at these conclusions. Here’s the story. The business world invented process thinking in the mid-’80s, which was a huge sensation at the time. Before process thinking came about, everything was about operations. We had sales, product development, and production, and everything took place in-house. The management did not group people into silos, nor did anyone think about how the operative work flowed to the corporation’s customer.

Then the business world invented the term target group. The target group is a term that represents this way of thinking very well, the paradigm, if you will. Target groups, as a term, describe this way of thinking so well that it inherits the flaws of the paradigm. You can see it as a soft spot. One of the weaknesses is that the customer gets seen as a target! It’s a bit like looking at the customer through a hunting rifle scope while aiming at the customer’s forehead. People are not game to be hunted. If you think of people like this, then you should seriously re-evaluate how you perceive reality. 

When intelligent people drew this whole chain of thought into a single coherent picture, people realized how things worked in the organization. People also saw the things that weren’t working because they were now plainly visible on paper. People marked the problems with red flags, and then they began fixing the issues. However, there was still one big mistake in this thinking process. The other side is missing. What side, you ask? The customer’s side.

The Zipper model – Two processes meet

A simplified drawing of a zipper. The zipper represents how two models meet.

A new realization took place in the mid-’90s. There were two processes! The other side of the process became known as the customer’s side. Intelligent people connected these two processes like the zipper in a Ziplock. During this time, I was pioneering and created the zipper model. Let’s look at this model in greater detail. Here is the zipper model:

The Zipper model. The model represents how the customer and organization connect with each other through specific touch points.

As you can see, it takes our and our customer’s processes into account. The process steps get paired. They connect at specific meeting points, also known as touchpoints. I have created zipper models for clients hundreds of times over the years. This model has continuously improved over the years by becoming ever more hands-on and straightforward. Simplification is at the very heart of the Stradigo brand, our way of doing.

It’s a joy to see how fast we can pull the information from the professionals’ heads.

Usually, this process begins with the customer defining their goals, and we try to make them aware. We do this so the customer would understand we can help them realize these goals. If the company likes the approach, we can start building the zipper. By creating the zipper, the customer’s business improves.

When the customer’s process gets drawn as a zipper model, the challenge becomes how to focus on the right things. Customer processes can get drawn out as very vast chains. However, it is impossible to serve the entire customer process from start to finish. The purpose of a business is not to do everything, and it cannot do it. Very few companies could feasibly even attempt to serve everything. It takes too much money, effort, and business size to be a realistic prospect for most. That is why an organization strives to respond to and solve a specific part of the customer’s process. 

Text: Worry – Need = Solution. The difference between a worry and a need is a solution.

Worry — Need = Solution

Here is something fun to think about: What is the difference between a worry and a need? I realized that these two words are the opposite sides of the same coin. They address the same phenomenon. I’m sure I have given hundreds of presentations about this, asking people to think about the difference between these two words. Many good answers exist, but one, in particular, is particularly helpful: A Need is an answer to a worry.

Here’s an example. If I’m thirsty, thirst is my worry. But what is my need? What is the answer to thirst? It could be an ice-cold beer or a glass of water.

Every salesperson has an inherent desire to make the customer happy and satisfied. Salespeople think with their common sense and conclude that the customer’s needs must be satisfied. How does one get to know the customer’s needs? Once again, the salespeople begin to think with their common sense. LET’S ASK THE CUSTOMER!

At that very moment, people don’t notice that they are delegating the responsibility and competence to answer the client. Because the need is the answer, the customer’s know-how and capability to answer limit what they can tell you at any given time. The salesperson likely is far more competent to provide an answer than the customer.

We have concluded that instead of asking about the customer’s needs, we must listen to their worries. Then, the salesperson takes responsibility and presents the potential customer with something that solves the concern, which may interest them.

If the customer knows their needs, they are often a bit old-fashioned. They don’t know about our newest tricks. That’s when you can say:

“Sure! We can do things that way, but you might be interested in this. This is our new way of doing that.”.

Then the customer becomes interested and wants to know more about the solution you mentioned.

Customer’s worry – Your solution

Take responsibility for the customer’s needs! A worry hides a question. If you want to be an expert, this is what you do: Every time a customer asks you about anything, you immediately, after a meeting, try to figure out a way to solve that worry. You could present them with a sales pitch that provides an answer to that worry. By refining the pitch, you end up with something that doesn’t even look like a pitch. It behaves like a meeting where you help solve the customer’s worry. They worry; you have a solution to it. If you match, an opportunity to work together presents itself. The fewer questions the engaged potential customer has to ask you, the better your presentation is. You keep refining your presentation until you don’t get questions.

Customer Situations

Customer Situations

Here comes the important thing with the zipper. The approach is something that can be considered new. We hadn’t realized it back in the 1990s. I think this is solid. The point is this. When the customer goes through their process, they regularly bump into situations where they realize they could use help. They stop and either try to work things out by themselves or ask for help from a professional. Solving things by themselves takes however long it takes and gives them the quality that matches their current know-how. The result can be much worse than what a professional could achieve, yet the Dunning-Kruger effect or some other reason may compel them to do it by themselves. Just because the customer can do something a certain way doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the optimal decision.

When these situations get identified, the customer’s process crystallizes and simplifies. We have identified many problem situations while interacting with our customers, and I can say as of this moment that there seem to be around 15 situations. When we know what they are, we give them a name.

Situation — Worry

Text: “Situation. Worry, worry, worry.” Yellow explosion. Person in green shirt.

The customer is sweating when they have loads of worries in one situation. We, however, have been hearing these same worries year after year. I always joke about pulling these worries and situations out of the customers’ heads with tongs.

A professional has met many customers and heard many worries. The professional knows these worries better than the customer because they have met many people going through the same situations.

It might be the first time the customer is running into this situation. So, how would they know all the answers to this situation if it is their first time? They will identify a few questions immediately, but the professional might know 30 more worries waiting behind the corner. Identifying these situations is very important and helpful! Because then the salesperson can offer a better solution to the potential customer’s problem!

Understanding the customer in-depth

Four steps. Customer process, situations, concerns, solutions. Three persons cheering about the four steps.

The logic is the same for the whole process as a simplified version. Back in the old days, we used to hold five full-day workshops to create the Zipper model. Now we can do the whole thing in a fraction of that time. Logically, we always begin with the customer’s process. Once drawn into a picture, situations get identified and appropriately assigned to the correct spot in the process.

It’s tough to get the staff to jump into a customer’s situation. They always return to their side of the process and begin to think about what their goals are. That’s when I say: Forget about your world for once!

Jump into our customer’s shoes and begin to think about what the situations are. It’s not easy at all to give them names. It’s pretty demanding but doable when editing comes into the picture. When the situation is clear, it is possible to think about the worries. A professional can easily help to identify 10-30 worries per situation.

When you have identified the worries, choose one of the solutions and think of a situation that it applies in. When there are many situations, the solutions form a puzzle. The customer might be lacking one piece of the puzzle, and that’s why they aren’t able to get the complete picture of their situation. As professionals, we can help them out.

Customer Situations

customer situationsCustomer Situations

Speaking from experience, I can say that one Zipper workshop can deal with as many as 200 worries. During the workshop, customers (who participate in the workshop!) get asked if they recognize these worries. Every single time they answer: “Yes, that is our world.”

Professionals know a great deal about the customer’s world. Still, when the situation gets visualized with pictures, the customer realizes they can’t handle it alone, and they ask a professional for help. And when you understand the customer in-depth, you are the professional.

Understanding the customer in-depth

Understanding the customer in-depth

Even the best professionals will have trouble addressing things they have never thought of before. A lack of awareness causes issues for the professional. Nobody can throw out 30 worries on a whim. When the worries related to the various situations get drawn into a clear image, the salesperson can talk about them to a prospective client and demonstrate that they can help the prospective client solve the various issues.

Sales take place once both parties agree to do something. To get deals, you must be able to demonstrate you can provide a concrete solution. If you work from the zipper model, you will have a powerful tool at your disposal. Thanks to this fact, I strongly encourage you to build a zipper model for yourself. If you want help with this, feel free to reach out to us. We are more than happy to help you build one as fast as possible. It’s a faster way to results than doing the R&D on your own.

Understanding the customer in-depth is the key to success!

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Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Typical Mistakes

4.01 The Biggest Mistakes in the Strategy Process — Mistake 1: Not involving people

Stradigo

The Biggest Mistakes in the Strategy Process — Mistake 1: Not Involving People | 4.01

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This is the first blog of three to address the biggest mistakes that can happen during a strategy process. Today, I will be introducing the cardinal mistake in a strategy process, the lack of involvement.

Strategy framework that describes the Stradigo strategy process. The process includes three phases; 1. Direct, 2. Prioritize, 3. Act.

Three loops

This model that describes the strategy process consists of three rotating loops. The management directs the company in the first loop, which means strategic decisions, and implementation follow-up takes place quarterly. The second loop is where everyday leadership activities take place. People identify sub-goals, and implementation follow-up takes place weekly. People lead themselves for the most part during this loop. The third loop consists of everyday operative work, and it constantly rotates in every company. 
The deciding skill is how to connect these three loops. But when trying to link them together, various types of problems may arise.

Mistake 1: Lack of involvement

The first great mistake and the cardinal mistake in a strategy process is to not. involve people in the thinking process. People can be efficiently involved today because technology makes this very easy, convenient, and efficient. The traditional way would be far more expensive, so it is not common to invite the whole organization to participate. The old way is outdated, and you should seriously consider updating your assumptions about what it means to involve people in the strategy process. The default answer is that you should include everyone because it is possible to do it very efficiently.

Lack of exitement

Drawing of a group of five men being excited and cheering near a large group of people who are not excited.

The staff lacks excitement because the management hasn’t involved them in the strategy process.

In the old world, the management sits down in a conference room and thinks about the company strategy. After a long and arduous negotiation, they finally decide the strategy and are excited that it is ready. A press conference is held, which the staff is happy to attend. Even so, in the end, the employees can have unanswered questions. They can also be confused about what it all means for them in practice. 

If you desire to hold a formal briefing for the staff, you encounter a few problems:

Group of five people being excited and cheering near a large unexcited group. Red Text: 1. Explaining, 2. Selling the idea, 3. Forcing people to converse.e management doesn't involve people

When the management doesn’t involve the staff they will have to explain the strategy, sell the idea, and force people to talk about their idea.

You need to explain to people what the strategy is to sell them the idea. They either will or won’t buy what you present. How can you get them to understand? One CEO came up with the worst words in Finnish that I have ever heard — Keskusteluttaminen. In Finnish, it means something like forcing people to converse. To put it bluntly: “Make those idiots converse so that they would finally understand what’s going on.”

STOP!
Group of five people cheering excited & cheering near a large unexcited group. Drawing covered by a large indigo x.

Stop! Don’t do it like how I explained above. Involve your staff!

Instead, see your strategy process as a genuinely fantastic opportunity to have people think genuinely together!

Let's work genuinely together!

Drawing of a strategy process with multiple boxes that describe how all staff can be involved in the process and work authentically together.

Let’s work genuinely together! Involve all staff and reap the rewards. Everybody wins.

First, a one-hour kickoff takes place with everybody present. People are all asked questions about topics like growth and problematic issues. Next, come the workshops. Thanks to technology, workshops can be held with a larger group. People get asked to volunteer themselves.

After the workshops, the partly done, unfinished, strategy gets previewed to the entire staff, and they have the opportunity to give feedback and share their opinions. At the very end, the organization holds the finalization workshops, and the final output gets shown to the entire staff.

Thanks to the fact that people can take part from the very beginning, minimal persuasion needs to occur. Everybody had the opportunity to steer the process. Strategy implementation began during the kickoff meeting. By the time the strategy process completes, somebody in the organization may already have started using some ideas in practice. 

Avoid the cardinal mistake in your strategy process!

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Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategy Implementation

3.01 The Presence Of Strategy In Everyday Business

Stradigo

The presence of strategy in daily work — 3.01

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Many organizations experience problems with the strategy becoming present in everyday business. You see, when you create the strategy, it easily remains hidden somewhere out of sight, and nobody looks at it until the next time the strategy is updated. A present strategy is what you need.

Three loops

Strategy framework with 3 loops. Direct, Prioritize, Act. This framework is used by Stradigo.

This is an image of three loops from the strategy journey.

Here is, once again, our strategy model with three loops. In the first loop, we direct the company and find a direction we think will bring us success. In the second loop, we start steering the strategy implementation.  Big goals get broken down into subgoals, which the management prioritizes. When goals are defined, we proceed to loop three, everyday operative work.

The link connecting the first and second loop often breaks. It’s one of the reasons why organizations fail to implement their strategy. If you want to ignite your company’s strategy, make the loops rotate and keep them linked.

Summarizing everything on a single page

This is a drawing describing how a Strategy 1Pager is created by summarizing information and how it continues into implementation.

The key with creating a Strategy 1Pager is to summarize everything to a single page.

The strategy crystallizes from many ideas. The unique thing about our work process is that we hold strategy meetings with the whole staff, where everyone is allowed to give comments. Meetings take place at the beginning, the middle, and the end of the strategy process. Workshops occur with expanded group composition.

A significant number of ideas are gathered, refined, and prioritized. In the end, the strategy gets crystallized onto a single page, Strategy 1Pager. Then the implementation process begins.

Strategy 1Pager

In this drawing five people look at a Strategy 1Pager. The 1Pager includes a sector, a sun and an indigo arrow pointing at the sun.

Meetings, meetings...

This is a drawing of five groups of people meeting around five different tables. In the centermost table one person is pointing at a large screen.

Several meetings take place in companies. The question is, is the strategy present in the meeting agendas? Unfortunately, I suspect that it is not actively present in that many meetings.

Operative tasks eat up the time

Operative matters quickly eat up all the time that people have reserved for thinking about the strategy. In another blog, I told you that important and urgent issues compete against each other. In this competition, urgent matters always win.

The talent is to have the strategic goals present during the meetings. How is it done in practice? There are better and worse solutions to that; however, I’ll explain one excellent approach and a new possibility for you.

How you lead and follow up progress

This is a drawing of five people looking at a dashboard of goals. The goals are marked with red, yellow and green dots.

Use a digital board. Track progress through it.

Let’s move the strategy onto a digital board! Everybody can see the whole strategy and write comments onto cards, which get grouped according to goals. When your big goals are present on the board and separated into specific tasks, traffic lights show how strategy implementation progresses.

When the essential tasks are listed, staff can notice that one or several goals may no longer be optimal. Goals and tasks can influence each other, which creates an interesting dynamic. This dynamic between goals and tasks is a component of agile leadership, a living strategy. Staff can also notice quite fast if the goals have been completed. Once complete, the team can fill the void with new the following objectives.

The point is in how people lead themselves and follow up on the work. Is the work in sync with the strategy? When we have a digital board, it affects our work. The media is the message! When the board makes the things we pursue visible for us, we go towards our goals much more efficiently. This way the strategy becomes present.

The Purpose

This is a drawing of five people looking at a dashboard of goals. The goals are marked with red, yellow and green dots.

Every business needs to have a Purpose, the sun, for it to exist. Some have written it down; others have not. The purpose is not only about earning money for the shareholders – even though it is essential. But we make more when the purpose is an answer to what you do for our customers.

If you involve the customer in this purpose, you suddenly earn more money for the shareholders. You get better success because you think outside-in instead of pushing out products from an inside-out perspective. That’s why the purpose must be visible on the strategy page.

A strategy implements the purpose. It helps you to implement it more efficiently for your customers. In the end, the strategy can be just a few sentences long—an elevator pitch.

The strategy consists of focus areas. What are the areas that need focus? These focus areas are written down clearly in the strategy. The next thing is identifying the big goals. There can’t be too many focus areas; three or four is often the right amount. Otherwise, your attention gets split on too many things, and nothing gets finished in time.

To reiterate the marmalade phenomenon: Every organization has a spoonful of marmalade and a certain number of toasts to butter. The management can’t pick too many toast pieces; otherwise, you won’t taste the marmalade.

In a large corporation, two focus areas can be too few, but five can be too many. In a smaller company, two or even one focus area can be enough. If a storm erupts, focus areas need prioritization. The company reduces the number of things receiving focus. In that situation, a big company might have only two focus areas. Storms can come from black swan events (unexpected events), like a global pandemic.

Goals and targets

This is a hierarchy of multiple levels. From top to bottom. Purpose, Strategy, Focus Areas, Goals & Actions. The words are connected by red arrows.

It’s very vital that your company has a way to prioritize things, a hierarchy if you will.

It isn’t easy to implement a strategy if one merely goes with the flow and invents goals out of thin air. When the whole staff is involved in the strategy process, critical operative thinking always happens. The strategy and the focus areas get seen as high-quality ideas.

Without a satellite perspective, the ideas according to which the company operates lack sufficient perspective, in my opinion.

If you don’t understand your purpose for the customers, you don’t necessarily focus your energy on the most important things. If you only think about operative goals and tasks, you’re arranging deck chairs on the Titanic a few moments before the ship hits the iceberg. You also have to examine the road into the future.

Helicopter perspective

During the five-day war in Kuwait, general Schwarzkopf held daily press conferences. He said that it’s possible to make good decisions from the grassroots perspective; however, when one rises to the helicopter level, “then you know what to do.”

We can use Schwartzkopf’s approach as a good example. An organization, with a clear upper-level view, defines better goals for itself. Even in a one-person micro-enterprise, it’s beneficial to understand what should receive focus!

In smaller companies, the focus areas might often change, even every couple of months. The implementation of the focus areas takes longer in larger companies. They complete more comprehensive strategy rounds now and then. After that, it’s perfectly acceptable to look at the strategy quarterly. How is it doing, and has it progressed?

Safe stability is gone

These days companies need people to think about the most critical topics more frequently and faster. To those who believe that their industry isn’t changing rapidly, I say good luck. I’m afraid the time of safe stability is gone. One of the few safe things a company can do is stay constantly alert and sense what customers need. React immediately to sudden changes.

Following the big picture: trends and competition, etc.

The company staff must follow up the strategy implementation constantly.

You need continuous follow-up

A series of meetings is called a management system. The management system provides answers to various questions. What kind of meetings? What are the themes and mission of each session? How often are meetings held? What is the meeting agenda? What are things measured during the meeting?

Take a look at your management system and follow up on implementation progression progress now and then. During bad times if you don’t reach the goals, the management system meetings are held more frequently. A loose follow-up can lead to an inefficient way of working. Inefficiency can cause you not to reach the goals you’ve set out for yourself. That’s why it’s imperative to lead the strategy through the organization.

Leadership inside the organization

This is a drawing of five groups of people meeting around five different tables. A person is pointing at a large screen. Red arrows connect the groups.

Look at the above image. Let’s pretend the management group is in the middle. It follows up on upper-level goals, but, in the meantime, every team in the organization has also interpreted what those high-level goals mean to them personally.

Now comes the trick. Everyone can, and should, have access to a digital board of their own, which links to the other boards through an internal logic. The goals and tasks are easily made visible on the board. Through this approach, the company ensures that the upper-level goals are, within reason, broken down into subgoals.

Some time ago, I was facilitating the strategy creation process in a large corporation. The process took place over multiple days. On the second day, the idea was to set goals for the fourth quarter, but suddenly the conversation changed the process agenda and gave birth to a new Strategy 1Pager. And that’s what we did. The strategy didn’t change, but we noticed the focus areas needed to be updated.

Bottom up!

Together we defined the new big focus areas and created everything from the bottom up. We browsed through the essential topics. The most critical matters passed the filter. As a result, the Strategy 1Pager contents changed. In retrospect, a person could think we made an extensive strategy round, but we only ended up changing the focus areas.

Even though the corporation in question is a billion-dollar company, it’s beginning to be quite agile. Agility has developed over several years. Decisions aren’t carved in stone. When we modified the 1Pager, we merely documented the new situation! It was a surprise to everyone; it wasn’t the plan to even make a new one-page strategy. The strategy stayed the same even if the focus areas changed.

Every team has a separate function. The important thing is how the teams begin to implement them.

Today's point: Continuous Prioritization

This is a drawing of a sector with black borders. Inside the sector is an indigo-colored pointed arrow that leads towards a sun outside the sector.

The point of the day is constantly prioritizing by using a digital board.  Strategy becomes present in everyday life—staff sails within the sector defined by the chosen strategy. Every day staff senses from which direction the wind blows. Sensing like this enables everyone to act with agility.

The Purpose gives the staff and customers energy. People get inspired when actions align with the purpose. The team goes along because everybody works towards a great thing. A great purpose means customers get help. Customers are thrilled when they can access the expertise they need.

If you want the strategy to be present in your everyday life, you must prioritize constantly. The strategy must be part of the meeting agenda in the weekly meetings! It may sound overwhelming, but it’s not. You only need one board, in which the strategy is visible all the time!

Do this correctly, and your strategy will become present and steer your daily activities!

Ignite your strategy! Read more.🔥

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Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategic Leadership

2.02 Kickstarting strategy implementation

Stradigo

Kickstarting strategy implementation — 2.02

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Once the strategy is ready, how does the organization kickstart the strategy implementation?

Strategy framework with 3 loops. Direct, Prioritize, Act. This framework is used by Stradigo.

I’m excited about the above strategy model! It’s simple, and it shows the journey clearly from a helicopter perspective.

Kickstarting strategy implementation: The Three Loops

In the first loop, the company’s direction becomes defined. Everyone receives an invite to join the creation process. People challenge their assumptions and the prevailing thinking inside the company. Tough choices get made, and, in the end, the whole strategy becomes visible on a single page. We call this one-page strategy a Strategy 1Pager.

Let’s take a look at the second loop, prioritize. That’s when the company steers itself through strategy implementation. Don’t expect things to get going by themselves. The management has to kickstart implementation. The ideas written down on the Strategy 1Pager, are often high-quality ideas. That’s why sub-goals, prioritization, and resourcing are essential. People are given responsibilities for specific tasks to steer the implementation and to follow up on their progress. The second loop needs to rotate weekly, which is much faster than the first loop. The first loop rotates quarterly. The second loop is all about following up on the goals.

The third loop represents everyday work. If the company runs into unsolvable problems inside the third loop, it typically occurs inside the second loop. If the problem, for some reason, can’t be solved inside the second loop, then the issue gets addressed inside the first loop. 

Text that reads “From PowerPoint to a living digital board.”

PowerPoint vs. Digital board

The strategy, typically, is presented as a PowerPoint slideshow. By doing this, the aim becomes to deliver the strategy in a clear form. Unfortunately, PowerPoint slides are static, which means they don’t function as a living document. Companies can make the strategy alive by setting up a digital board that tracks implementation. Whiteboards with sticky notes can work, but this approach is location restricted. A living digital board with cards and columns avoids issues caused by on-location challenges and the analog nature of pen and paper. You can feasibly use any software out there that you like. At Stradigo, we prefer to go with either Trello or Planner because they are popular. People are familiar with them. Familiarity is useful.

Digital boards have a use as a strategy steering tool. Prioritization becomes very straightforward. Free software, like Trello, give us all the functionality that we require to benefit in practice. I recommend some of the many free alternatives. The base functionality is the same in most digital board software out there. If your organization already uses a specific IT ecosystem, then you may already have software in mind.

The significant reason to use a digital board is to have a shared surface everybody can write on simultaneously. It becomes a platform for the company where each column on the board represents one focus area.

A whiteboard with three columns and cards. The cards have green, yellow and red dots. Each column is titled as a goal. Five people look at the board.

See how the strategy implementation becomes reality

The idea of using a digital board is to have a common platform where everybody can write at the same time. Each column on the board makes up a single focus area. Each card on the board, inside the columns, represents a specific task, a bit like sticky notes on a whiteboard. This truly helps with kickstarting the strategy implementation.

When the company prioritizes actions, it acquires clarity about implementation needs and what order things must occur. Thanks to this, the strategy remains relevant and active in front of everyone’s eyes without pause. An agile strategy has been born. Follow-up the strategy implementation frequently, for example, through weekly or bi-weekly meetings. Frequent follow-up creates a bridge between the plan and operative work. The entire organization sees the same board and acts on it.

The shared digital board is visible to the whole organization, allowing everybody to see how the strategy implementation becomes a reality. Deploying this type of setup is an opportunity for every organization, no matter what size it is.

An interesting phenomenon also happens. When the strategy is on a digital board, it starts to live. It remains up-to-date because the staff updates it almost every week. Likewise, the focus areas live with the times and adapt to suit the needs of the organization. I’m not talking about minor things but significant focus areas—the type of focus areas visible in the strategy, significant decisions. Nowadays, I believe that a company shouldn’t have four focus areas because that is too much to handle. Three would be the optimum number so that that focus won’t split between too many places.

The Marmalade Phenomenon

Drawing of a spoon with marmalade, five sheets and a smiling face.

I have spoken earlier about the marmalade phenomenon, which, in my opinion, is the best piece of advice for leaders. It goes like this. Every organization has a tablespoon worth of marmalade, representing resources, capabilities, machines, IT, staff, etc. The management must choose the right amount of toasts to use it on. Not too many and not too few. After that, the spoonful of marmalade gets spread onto the chosen number of toasts. For example, if there are 31 pieces of toast (big tasks), there’s not enough marmalade for them all, and so the toasts taste only like dough. If that happens, people start to demand more resources. Whenever I tell this story, I follow it up with a harsh comment:

“You have the exact amount of resources you are worth! You need to know how to choose and prioritize!”

The amount of money coming in determines the number of available resources. The question is how you use your available resources. If you lead badly, you butter too many toasts. What is the right amount of toasts? That is the question.

During the strategy journey, a risk exists that the three loops of the strategy journey can detach. I have covered the strategy loops in greater detail in separate blog entries. The organization may store the strategic plan inside a PowerPoint file, where it remains forgotten until it a review takes place a year later. If the strategic plan is in a digital board form, the second loop will rotate weekly, and the strategy remains living. The necessary actions, the tasks, are constantly present and visible in front of all staff members. This is how you kickstart the strategy implementation!

The strategy ignites, and a successful journey begins! Read more.🔥
Drawing of a campfire.

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Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.