Strategy is about making choices that help you win and reign as King/Queen over a realm/region of an industry. Waging war, conquering territories, and reigning over them is something that kings and queens have done for thousands of years of recorded human history. You can come up with a strategy for anything by thinking in terms of waging a successful war campaign, winning, and reigning over a territory.
The 6 Questions of Winning
The 5 W’s and 1H are 6 questions whose answers are considered basic in information gathering or problem-solving. They are often mentioned in journalism, research, and police investigations. They constitute a formula for getting the complete story on a subject. A report is only be considered complete if it answers all six questions starting with an interrogative word:
Who was involved?
When did it take place?
Where did it take place?
Why did that happen?
How did it happen?
A good strategy is always found at the point of alignment of all 6 questions of winning.
To get that alignment, it helps to ask the 6 questions in an iterative manner.
Since strategy is all about winning, the questions, rearranged, go as follows:
Why do we want to win?
What is winning?
Where are we going to win? Since where you win is determined by where you play, this question can be posed as, where are we going to play?
When do you want to win? – Knowing when you want to win is essential to coming up with a good strategy. Doing something in 10 years requires a different approach to doing the same thing in 1 year.
How are we going to win?
Who is going to help us win? – This speaks of the people, processes, etc, i.e. the capabilities and management systems needed to win.
The GROWTH Framework
You can get to an excellent strategy by making the following six choices in an iterative manner. Don’t forget that strategy is a series of choices we make that allow us to win. They are choices about what to do and by default, what NOT to do. To win, you say yes to a few things and consistently say no to everything else.
The GROWTH mnemonic represents the six questions or 6 choices in an easy to remember fashion.
- Goals, aspirations, and purpose of winning. Why do we want to win? What do we want to win?
- Realm / Region to focus our efforts to win. Where will we play? What realm will we choose to fight for rulership? What region do we want to make our territory?
- Onset and conclusion. When do you want to start and conclude? Knowing this has a huge impact on how you go about choosing how to win.
- Winning methodology/recipe. How will we choose to win against the competition there?
- Talents, treasures, and time we will need to build to win in our chosen manner. Who are going to be our talents? Our talents, treasures, and time represent our strengths. Our strengths, working together, represent the organization’s core capabilities. Core capabilities are activities that, when done supremely well, help the organization to win in its chosen realm and in its chosen manner. To win, you have to play to your strengths. You have to focus on your talents!
- Human Resource Management & Evaluation of Progress. These are management systems we need to operate in order to both build and maintain our necessary talents, treasures, and time. These systems are crucial because they will manage the continuous implementation and continuous evaluation of all the preceding strategy steps. Without proper management, the entire strategy will fall apart. This is everything needed to support our capabilities. It must include effective quality improvement (PDSA) etc.
** Number 6 above simply represents a management system that supports the preceding five steps, especially the capacities in 5 to do their work well. It involves continuous evaluation and improvement and other support needed to get the job done.
QI stands for Quality Improvement.
The GROWTH framework works the same as Roger Martin’s 5 questions of strategy. All questions have to be answered together, simultaneously. These questions have to fit with one another, link with one another and reinforce one another. Changes are made in an iterative manner until a strategy is chosen that agrees with all the questions.
Here is what Roger Martin says about creating strategy: “To create a strategy, you have to iterate — think a little bit about Aspirations & Goals, then a little bit about Where to Play and How to Win, then back to Aspirations & Goals to check and modify, then down to Capabilities and Management Systems to check whether it is really doable, then back up again to modify accordingly.”