by Tony Vidler
Is there a cunning plan for your practice to thrive amidst the changes coming at the financial advice sector from all directions? What is the plan then?
What is the strategy?
Those 2 questions might look like the same question, but they are not quite. The cunning idea, or the strategy, is THE single thing that will make the most significant difference to the commercial performance of a practice.
At its most simple level strategy could be defined as “my cunning idea to achieve my objective”. That’s what it is all about in reality: it is how one is going to achieve better or superior results compared to others in the same market. Strategy isn’t the goal, which is a common misconception. Strategy is about deciding where you are going to compete and how you are going to win in that space. Your goal or vision is simply the end result which will be achieved if the strategy is successfully executed.
Even though many professionals SAY they understand the differences between these concepts, and that they really truly know what strategy is, it seems they struggle to express what their own business strategy is. The discussion inevitably shifts rapidly to the tasks, or tactics, that are going to be undertaken to achieve the goal and that is called “the plan”. Yet there is typically no clarity about how these tactics combine to form a winning strategy.
The cunning plan is not very cunning at all if there no clear understanding about how all those marketing and process development tasks add up to a winning approach. Those tactical tasks matter of course, and no plan will succeed without them – however focussing upon the tactical without understanding how they contribute to achievement of the strategy generally leads to a high degree of “busy-ness” without necessarily achieving progress. Practices find themselves running hard….on the same spot.
Great strategy has an outward focus that centres upon engaging with the target market or commercial opportunity, and gives guidance on how the firm will choose to compete to achieve its goals. It provides the framework for the rest of the decision making.
Great strategy assists people within the firm to determine how best to use resources, time and effort to compete or differentiate by delivering value.
Delivering value is what it is all about isn’t it? If a service firm is delivering value successfully then it will prosper. If it does so exceptionally well then it will achieve superior results in comparison to the market.
So perhaps the better question to have asked at the beginning is:
What’s the cunning plan for delivering exceptional value to our target market this year?
I am willing to bet that if you do have a cunning plan that is focused upon delivering exceptional value in the area where your firm wishes to compete, and if the cunning plan is executed well, then your firm will thrive regardless of the changes occurring all around us.