What is strategy?
What is strategy?

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What is strategy?

Aims and objectives

The terms ‘aims’ and ‘objectives’ are also sometimes used interchangeably in how organisations talk about themselves. But we can make a useful distinction between a general intention (aim) and the subordinate objectives, which support its achievement. Effective objectives are specific, measurable, agreed, realistic and timed – the famous SMART acronym (though you will probably encounter slightly different versions of what the letters stand for from one business writer to another).

In Activity 6 you’ll start to learn how to set strategic objectives.

Activity 6 How to set strategic objectives

Timing: Spend approximately 20 minutes on this activity.

Watch this video with Russell Yeomans. Explain what he thinks about the role of strategic objectives. What does he recommend to managers setting strategic objectives?

Download this video clip.Video player: Strategic objectives
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Transcript: Strategic objectives

[Music playing]
Russell Yeomans:
Providing strategic direction can be easily over complicated. I’m a great believer in frameworks – reasonably simplistic, easy to understand frameworks.
But ultimately, our strategic framework starts in what I would call a classic consulting manner, really, about sort of working with managers to set what we call ‘the big, hairy, audacious goal’.
So it’s spending that time, thinking three, four years ahead about where you could be. Set the big goals. Have a bit of a reality check in terms of where you are. Look at what options you’ve got. And constantly be analysing how you go in against those objectives.
For us, our key contributor – which is probably similar to any professional services firm – is net income per consultant – or co-member, as we call it. So what the goals are within that.
And then building a strategic framework behind that. So those are your sort of big, easy to articulate goals both financially and numbers-wise, etc.
And we’ve broken it down into four. I’ve worked with organisations that have worked with up to 12, which I think is a bit too many. But key strategic objectives that again should be able to be articulated in a consistent manner. And for us, it’s talked about on a day-to-day basis through the business.
The first strategic objective is constantly driving up the NIPC figure.
The second strategic objective is all around head count. It’s the right head count at the right time. It’s managing that head count well on an ongoing basis both in keeping ahead of future hires, but also managing talent within the business. Because it’s not a classic Jack Welch 15 per cent model, but it is important for us, for our business, or current environment, that people have to hit minimum expectations to continue to deserve to be part of our growth.
The third sort of key strategic initiative for us is customer first, communication and collaboration. And then the fourth strategic direction for us is all around culture and engagement. So how do we constantly create that environment that people are going to be part of, that they feel a vital part of?
And that is consistent both on a international level, but also country by country. So every office that we’ve got is working out what those strategic objectives mean for them. And it’s a framework that’s reasonably easy to understand, that we don’t think needs to be changed on an ongoing basis over the next couple of years.
I’m building an international business that’s growing at a fast rate. And I think when you’ve got a fast-growth environment it does need a tweaking of maybe what the long-term strategic direction is, because it is a high-growth environment. And there will be a time to maybe moderate the behaviour of the organisation as you become more established in various markets.
I think as far as the Reed organisation go, which is, I think, one of the key reasons we attract people to us, is that Reed have been a 50-year-old family business that have been operating with the same set of values throughout that time. To not necessarily be the biggest, but wanting to be the best. To be fair and open and honest and innovative.
So there’s a core set of values that have stayed consistent over time, and I think that’s really important, because I have worked previously with organisations whose ‘big, hairy, audacious goals’ sort of things, they do change. And maybe there’s a three–five year time frame for things like that.
But I think where values and strategic direction keep changing, anyone that’s been there more than three or four years begins to get cynical, and struggle to sell those. So it’s having that framework that can stand the test of time.
End transcript: Strategic objectives
Strategic objectives
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