Don’t Let Your Strategy Templates Take The Lead
Uh oh. Now you have to get to work.
As it turns out, coming up with the idea was the easy part. But doing your homework on the true market potential for your idea, the competitive landscape that exists around your idea, the industry forces that might influence your idea, and all the things you need to do to actually produce, market, and sell your idea – well, that’s where the real work begins. And, unfortunately, any of these questions, if left unaddressed, have a way of sucking your otherwise successful business venture into the vortex of “Oops, I didn’t think about that.”
The answers to all of these potential little oversights collectively make up what is often referred to as your business strategy. Yes in technical terms, a business strategy is a plan to achieve a goal. Sounds simple enough. But having a plan isn’t necessarily what makes people anxious. Having a plan that considers all of the right things – that’s what tends to trip people up. And that’s when you might be tempted to turn to those nasty little set of documents commonly referred to as “strategy templates.”
Judging by that setup, it will probably come as no surprise that I am not a big fan of developing business strategies using templates alone. To quote from my latest book, Creative Strategy Generation:
“Your strategy not only has to connect to others, it has to connect with you as well. Don’t try to put your story together based solely on templates or a formula. These can be used as a guide, but, ultimately, every strategy must have its own unique story.”
As important as it is to have a business strategy, I think it’s even more important to have a creative business strategy. And although I am not necessarily opposed to using templates to help guide you through the strategic process, I am definitely opposed to letting those templates take the lead.
So, when it came time to develop a companion toolkit for the creative strategic process that I wrote about, I wanted to give people the tools they needed to help them apply the process, but without encouraging them to develop their strategies by simply “filling in the blanks.” To do this, I decided to eat my own dog food and turn to what my own customers told me they needed the most help with.
In my research, I found that the single biggest challenge people have in developing their strategic plans is in being able to tell the story of their strategies. So, the templates in my Creative Strategy Generation Toolkit have been developed with exactly this need in mind. (Available to participants of our product management training workshops)
Using the concept of The Strategic Arc that is featured in the book, the templates included in the toolkit will help you compose your strategic story by following a modified version of what is commonly referred to as “the dramatic arc.” This model is shown below, along with a list of the nine templates that fit within its context.
- Baseline Analysis
- Opportunity-Based SWOT
- Vision, Goals & Objectives
- Target Market
- Strategic Actions
- Strategic Investments
- Strategic Results
- Strategic Summary
In short, the templates included in the Creative Strategy Generation Toolkit are designed to help you develop your strategic plan by guiding you through the process of telling your strategic story. This serves the dual purpose of inspiring a creative thought process while also helping you to compose the strategic presentation that will ultimately be needed to accompany your plan. In addition, all of the templates in the newly released 2.0 version of the toolkit are provided in both fillable PDF and PowerPoint formats so they can be customized to fit your specific needs and adjusted to accommodate your unique strategic story.
So the next time you find yourself looking for a set of templates to help you develop your product or business strategy, ask yourself exactly what you want those templates to do for you. If you want to create a strategy that follows a strict set of academic rules, there are plenty of tools out there that will allow you to do that. But if instead, you are looking for a set of tools that are designed to inspire creative thinking and help you compose your own unique strategic story, then you may want to join us in one of our product management training or product strategy workshops and receive access to the Creative Strategy Generation Toolkit V.2, give it a try!
Want to try out our toolkit before you purchase?
Get Actionable Tips from Industry Experts Delivered Weekly!
More than 300 product managers have already subscribed!