If you are intending to enter a marathon, it is important to do a lot of distance running. There is no point doing sprint training or even cycling, even though both of these activities engage the legs. In sports science it is called Specificity.

This holds true for strategy development as well.

If you are having difficulty in realising tangible results from the strategies your management team is implementing, it may be they are not targeted, or specific, enough. Loose definitions of strategies and initiatives tend not to yield any results at all or, to continue the metaphor above, might yield a short-term spurt in profitability but fail to generate the long-run profitability and Return On Capital targets.

The other key thing about being specific is to ensure strategic and business plans are created in such a way that everybody is clear about what has to be done and what specific results will be generated. It is simply not acceptable for a manager to present a plan that does not close the gap between forecast performance (what you expect in the absence of any changed strategy) and the agreed target (what you want to achieve from the implementation of new strategies).

Specificity is the first step in the discipline of strategic thinking, planning and execution.

For more information, please feel free to email me at john.barrington@barrington.com.au.

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