How to Communicate your Strategy Effectively
By Jibility co-founder Chris Benthien
There was once a healthcare provider who engaged a large consulting firm to prepare their three-year IT strategy in a comprehensive slide deck. The firm leapt into action and drew up the dynamic and forward-thinking strategy. With their lucrative fee then in hand, they presented the client with the completed slide deck and departed.
This slide deck consisted of a hefty 350 slides.
The healthcare provider then engaged our consulting team to review the strategy and create the roadmap for implementation. Deciding to reduce the bulky tome of a slide deck down to its essence, our team began culling.
Making Strategy as Simple as an Infographic
We pulled out slide after slide of ‘fillers’: slides articulating the benefits of innovation and current trends in global healthcare (the sort of stuff that any internet search would provide).
When we were done, 12 slides remained.
We took these and turned them into two A3 infographics. When we presented these back to the client, many of the stakeholders confessed that this was the first time they had absorbed the strategy in its essence.
Mistakes that Damage Effective Communication
This situation wasn’t unique by a longshot. It’s surprisingly commonplace for an organization to have a strategy that isn’t clearly understood by stakeholders, including parts of the leadership team. This can be for several reasons:
- It’s too complex.
- It hasn’t been communicated well or often enough.
- It’s being held tightly by a few key executives.
- It isn’t up to date, and so has lost its relevance.
Tools and Techniques to Refine your Strategy
Your strategy must be clear, current and concise before you even start thinking about how to implement it. There are a multitude of tools and techniques you can use to fine tune and refresh your strategy. Some of our old favorites are:
- Porter’s Five Forces, by Michael E. Porter
- Porter’s Value Chain, by Michael E. Porter
- SWOT Analysis
- Norton Kaplan Strategy Map, by David P. Norton and Robert S. Kaplan
- Business Model and Value Proposition Canvases, by Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pegneur
- Lean Business Canvas, by Ash Maurya
- Blue Ocean Strategy, by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne
- BCG’s Growth-Share Matrix
This list just scratches the surface. There are literally thousands of other tools, techniques and theories you can adapt and use for articulating your strategy. In fact, there are so many that a book has been written specifically to help you choose one: Your Strategy Needs a Strategy, by Martin Reeves.
The Benefits of Visualizations
When it comes to communicating your finalized strategy, keeping it simple is key. Visualizations and infographics are great for this. Summarizing your strategy with an infographic may sound untraditional, but keeping it simple doesn’t mean that you’re dumbing anything down.
At the end of the day, nothing beats the leadership of the organization talking to the team, investors and other stakeholders on a constant basis, reinforcing the direction in which the organization is heading. But simple summaries and clear visuals are a huge help.
The Next Step for your Strategy
Is your strategy already clear, current, concise and well-understood? Then you’re ready for the next visualization: the strategy roadmap.
Our app (called Jibility) is a dedicated tool for building strategy roadmaps, automatically generating simple visualizations and summaries of all stages of the roadmap.