5 min read

Fast Strategy: 4 Types of Strategic Moves You Can Make Now

Do you ever feel like strategy work is too messy, too complicated, or too wasteful?

You're not alone.

Many small to medium-sized business owners and operators face these challenging feelings.

And as a result, they often waste a lot of time and energy either in avoidance….
…or they overdo it for where they and their business are at right now.  

Either way, it drains the spirit & leaves a bad taste in the mouth after experiencing either.

But what if I told you there is a fast, effective way to realign your company’s strategy?

In this article, I want to show you the FAST Strategy process that will help your business to:

  • Break the inertia that plagues executive and management teams
  • Removes most of the dread of doing strategy work
  • Provides a fresh perspective that can help resolve current stalemates + sticking points

Plus, we'll dive into the 4 Types of Strategic Moves you can make NOW!

3 Steps to Clarity: The FAST Strategy Process

To start making strategic moves, you first need to gain clarity on where to focus your efforts. The Fast Strategy process consists of three simple steps:

  1. Write down one strategic statement: Ask your executive team to write down a specific, concrete statement. Have them share what they believe is an important strategic focus for the company.

    For example: “We need to grow in North America by getting more distribution partners onboarded.” Or “We need to set up a company in Europe to be able to establish that market.” Or “We need to reposition ourselves by focusing on tier 2 type of customers, as the tier customers are too big for us.”
  2. Discuss and understand each statement: Gather your team to discuss each statement. Dialogue together so that everyone understands the logic behind each one.

    Answer questions like:
    - What's the opportunity or challenge?
    - What's the strategic move we could make here?
    - What are the specific actions needed to make progress on this?
  3. Prioritize via the 4 Strategic Moves: Once you have reviewed all the statements, sort them into one of four categories. Each category represents one of four strategic moves that you can make from this point.

Execute: If both the challenge/opportunity and the strategic move are clear: It's time to execute! These are the no-brainer actions that everyone agrees should be done.

Experiment: If the challenge/opportunity is clear, but the strategic move is unclear: It's time to experiment. In the next section, we’ll go over how to allocate resources to test different paths toward achieving the strategy. When it is unclear, and there are multiple viable paths, it is in your best long-term interest to have the ability to test and see which one works best.

Explore: If both the challenge/opportunity and the strategic move are unclear: You need to explore the situation further. Spend some time researching the topic, pay to consult with some expert(s), talk to customers, and network within the industry to learn more about your options.

Eliminate: If the strategic move is clear, but the challenge/opportunity is unclear: It's best to eliminate it. These are likely pet projects that don't solve a challenge or seize an opportunity.

For example, in one of my clients, the head of IT thought it’d be a good idea to start offering IT services outside the company. She saw an opportunity to generate additional revenues, pretty much like Amazon did with AWS. But the company had no competitive advantage over any other IT service provider, and focusing on external customers, created a lot of frustration internally, as IT was always busy with these external customers and not available for internal support.

Allocating Resources: The 70-20-10 Framework

To ensure you are focusing properly across the different Strategic Moves you can make…

A good base framework for resource allocation is the 70-20-10 framework:

  • 70% of resources go to Execution
  • 20% of resources go to Experimentation
  • 10% of resources go to Exploration
  • 0% of resources go to Eliminated Items

Here resource allocation is all about striking the right balance between Execution, Experimentation, and Exploration.

It takes a vigilant eye and team culture to ensure that things that should be Eliminated do not leech away your resources.  

Apply your resources in the places where they will have the most leverage and create the most impact.

How To Hold A Successful FAST Strategy Meeting

To ensure a successful FAST Strategy session, follow these guidelines:

  1. Encourage specificity: Statements like "we need to grow" are too generic. Instead, focus on statements like: "We should expand in our primary market through a strategic partnership with three major non-competitive players in our same market."
  2. Allocate sufficient time: Give every statement the time and space it deserves so that everyone fully understands it. Rushing through this step will make it harder to accurately do the remaining steps.
  3. Ask deeper questions: For each statement you evaluate, answer questions like, "What's our ambition here?” “Who's the customer or stakeholder?” “What would we offer, and how would we do it?"

Benefits of the FAST Strategy Framework

By implementing the FAST Strategy framework, teams see these happen immediately:

  • Silos break down better collaboration is fostered amongst the team
  • Experience a structured, focused, but still participatory approach to strategy discussions
  • Quickly identify areas where your resources should be allocated
  • Kick-start the strategy process and provide momentum for further strategic work

Over time, you will see continual growth in deeper benefits like:

Benefit #1: Clarity

The Four Types of Strategic Moves framework provides clarity on what needs to be done and how to prioritize initiatives.

This helps your business to focus on the most important actions it can take. By doing that, you avoid wasting resources on initiatives that won't deliver results.

Benefit #2: Flexibility

The framework is flexible and can be adapted to fit the needs of any business. It allows for experimentation and exploration, which can lead to new ideas and breakthroughs.

Benefit #3: Alignment

The Four Types of Strategic Moves framework helps build alignment around the strategy.

By prioritizing initiatives and actions that can deliver the most impact, teams can work together towards a common goal.

More importantly, they’ll feel the momentum and impact of their work…

…and will not feel the drain that comes with wasting time and resources on activities that ultimately are not aligned with the company's objectives.

Benefit #4: Accountability

When a business uses the Four Strategic Moves framework, they can better hold themselves accountable for their actions. By setting specific goals and monitoring progress, teams can ensure that they're on track to achieve their objectives.

Benefit #5: Resource Optimization

The Four Strategic Moves framework helps businesses optimize their resources.

Resources are consciously allocated to where they will best drive current results & create best future opportunities.

Putting It All Together: FAST Strategy in Action

Using FAST Strategy and the 4 Strategic Moves will help your business prioritize its efforts and get your team aligned.

By creating a prioritized listing of things to do, you can then assign each action to an upcoming Sprint.

Whatever cadence you run to get things done, use it to create tangible progress on your strategic priorities each week.

And remember, FAST Strategy is just one step of the journey.

And it is not a substitute for a comprehensive, long-term strategy.

While it can help your business prioritize initiatives and make progress quickly…

…it ultimately is aimless if you do not have a clear vision and roadmap for the future.

FAST Strategy should be seen as a complement to, rather than a replacement for, traditional strategic planning.

Lastly, Fast Strategy is not a one-time exercise.

Ideally, it is a recurring process that you refine as you do it each month, quarter, or year (depending on what makes sense for your team).

Firmly dedicate yourself to a culture of continuous improvement and a willingness to embrace failure as a learning opportunity.

We all know we get our fair share of such learning opportunities in business (and especially as we adopt new ways to articulate & execute on strategy).

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