Simplify Your Strategy

Why is it that great strategies end up having no impact on an organization? 

The usual answer is we had a great strategy but a lazy execution. In most cases when a company fails to execute its strategies, the strategy itself is a large part of the problem. 

For a strategy to influence action, it must be remembered. To be remembered it must be understood and to be understood a strategy must be simple.  Any strategy that is too complicated to execute isn’t a strategy, it’s a book report.  A complicated strategy needs to be  distilled to its simple essence that can be understood, remembered and acted upon. 


A few important questions.

This is possible by answering a few important questions: How strategy is defined is how firms create, capture and sustain economic value. 

An economic value in simple terms is just the gap between what the customer is willing to pay for your goods or service and strategy. Then it is about things that will move these needles, significantly increase willingness to pay and hold it there or significantly cut costs and hold it there. 

For most organizations, it isn’t numerous drivers that will lead to accomplishing desired strategic outcomes, it is a few things and getting clarity on those key values of value creation is the first question you have to answer. 

First question: To simplify a strategy, the question to ask is “What are the critical few challenges?”  This isn’t a laundry list exercise to fill up flip charts about a number of tasks. It is about a management team coming together to a shared agreement on what the top five obstacles are that need to be overcome that would ensure the organization creates economic value.

Second question: What is our shared understanding of the challenges? These could be external obstacles, competitive dynamics, regulation, or internal culture. The important consideration is that managers come to a shared understanding of what those obstacles are.

Third question: To execute your strategy, “what are our must win battles?”  It is one thing to understand how to create value and another to get agreement on the obstacles, but how to translate insight into action is by understanding “What are the battles we have to win organization wide in the next 3-5 years that if we could win these battles we would be assured to overcome the major obstacles to value creation?”

If as a management team, leaders can take a complicated strategy and distil it down it’s simple essence; value creation, critical challenges, must-win battles.  It is possible to bridge the gap from strategic insight to effective execution.


Service coverage

The variety, breadth, and depth of the projects where Arcus can be a resource are made unique by each client’s specific needs. By providing a very small sample of projects we’ve completed, we can help you understand how and when to use our services. Visit the links below to find out more about a specific problem or opportunity you would like to address.

Below is a sample of the range of services that Arcus has provided to clients.

  • A survey of 2,350 consumers and 1,320 business leaders for feedback on sustainability trends
  • Architecting a multi-year change strategy for a Fortune 500 company
  • Mentoring a CEO on organizational change
  • Excellence transformation of a leading B2B services company
  • Creating a new sales deployment model for a healthcare company
  • Developing a position evaluation and compensation model for a professional medical association   
  • Improving services to customer segments by deepening their understanding of customer attitudes

“Arcus manages to consistently deliver tangible results on market research and strategy projects. They combine deep business expertise, powerful research capabilities, and innovative thinking to deliver substantial value.”

– Vice President, Nikon