Keeping it Real. The Power of Strategic Clarity

How’s this for a clear concise strategy statement: We will be the Golden Retrievers of food pick-up and delivery. Fast, friendly and reliable. We will be the best fetchers in the business.

This is the only slightly tongue-in-cheek strategic vision of Tim Kiefer the energetic, dynamic and super smart founder of a food delivery company called The Food Pedaler (www.thefoodpedaler.com). As he was explaining his business model and growth goals he didn’t use tired traditional business jargon or the latest trendy business catch phrase. In a completely conversational tone he was able to articulate an exciting, engaging plan for building a sustainable and scalable business. Regardless of who he was speaking with, an experienced business exec or his grandma, both would have clearly understood his vision.

This is a great example of Strategic Clarity, one of the foundation stones of the Waters Group Global process. Everything about Tim’s statement works. It’s concise, memorable, relatable and repeatable. It paints a vivid mental picture. It tells employees exactly what’s expected of them. It tells customers exactly what they can expect as well. It communicates the company’s values and priorities in a way that directly reinforces its brand and culture. The Food Pedaler is an innovative, approachable, fun company. For Tim, the image of the friendly, eager to please Golden Retriever represents an important core value which is to develop relationships and make friends with their customers, partners and fans.

As effective as this strategy statement is, I’ll bet that in most company board rooms it would never see the light of day. It would be considered a cute sentiment but not a legitimate business strategy. That’s unfortunate because I believe it demonstrates how to successfully bring harmony to your company’s strategy, culture and brand so that each one is strengthened.

Try it yourself. Translate your business vision – whether it’s your elevator pitch, mission statement or whatever description used to explain your company’s purpose – to a simple statement of intent. Let your creative side loose. Don’t over think it. Try to make it as conversational as possible while still being concise. Use words that are informal, colorful, descriptive, action oriented and, dare I say it….even fun. Be sure it conveys what you want your company to achieve, what your core values are and how you intend to uphold those values. The key here is to convey intent, not every detail of how you will implement that intent. You may be surprised and frustrated at just how hard this is to do. But stay with it, even if it takes coming back to it over the course of a few days.

Once you think you’ve got the statement in as conversational human-speak form as possible, share it! Share it with people both inside and outside of your company and, if possible, with a few folks who don’t know much about what you do. Pay attention to the reactions you get. If what you get are engaged and inquisitive listeners who want to know more rather than escape from the conversation then you’re on the right path. Your goal should be for people to say “Cool, tell me more…” Rather than a glassy eyed “hmm, that sounds interesting…”

By going through this process you’ll find that the way you communicate your strategy will become more clear and relatable both internally and externally. You will be able to hone your message so that customer and employee communications are consistently supporting your core goals. And you may find a more direct and effective path to winning the hearts and minds of new customers while helping your employees become deeply invested in your company’s success. Most importantly you will find that you’re able to clearly articulate your goals and intent in a way that is more exciting, compelling and memorable. And now that she understands what it is you do, grandma will be so proud!