The 11 key elements for vision and strategy work.

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This spring my team and I have been working on many strategy projects with our clients. Normally the season for strategy work is at the end of the calendar year or start of the next. But now, after the pandemic the markets have opened, many companies feel they need to revisit their strategy. As we have designed so many new strategies lately, we want to share our insights on the 11 key elements in vision and strategy work. Something to consider when you work on your strategy.

1. Your DNA as a solid base.

Strategy starts with deep understanding. You need to know who you are in order to understand where you would like to go. Mapping your business models and key strategic choices on a timeline since your company was founded reveals great insights on how and why value creation evolved. It reveals your strategic moves and DNA as well as where you were more or less successful in the past.


2. Map your business model portfolio.

You are not adding value by means of a single business model. Your geographic and market spread, resulted in different business models that each live in their own context and having their own lifecycle. By mapping your business models as a portfolio that is developing, you can better define where value is next and how you can create synergies in your markets with each of the models.


3. Strategy is about growth.

Designing a vision and a strategy does not have to be hard. You just have to commit to articulating a vision and strategic choices that truly revolve around value creation for existing and new customers. You need to define specific growth areas for each of your businesses and explore and define where value is next at the business model level. What are your options for growth and making impact? Where should you be shifting with your business models? An entrepreneurial and growth mindset is the mindset you need to take your company into the future. A future where you make a big difference in the life of customers as well as making a positive socio-environmental impact. If you focus on value and positive impact, solid new revenue streams are generated as a result.


4. The mental picture of the future.

When you look at the future more often, you see more. But companies hardly do that. They work and act in the now. What is often lacking, is that board members, management teams and operational teams do not have a common mental picture – you can call this a visual – of the market and the role and overall value creation of your company in the next three to five years. Invite a graphic designer and futurist to the visioning and strategy design process to explore this. This will bring clarity for everybody and reveals opportunities on where to play.


5. Prototype your vision.

A vision is a picture of a desired future. When you trust this to paper, you assume that your team understands what this will look like in the near future. If your future is about being the best in class company, offering the best digital experience with one click, what would that look like specifically? How is that going to show up for your customers? How is that going to make a big difference? Invite digital designers to the team and build simple and cheap prototypes to understand and make the key elements of your vision come to life.


6. Digital as an enabler.

All companies eventually become digital or are already digital. Digital should be an enabler of more and better value and leveraging digital technologies should be considered in everything you do. So, in any vision and strategy, it should be clearly indicated what digital means for your customers, and how it powers value creation and business operations. Once you have this clarity, you can make the required investments in systems, people, capability development, Machine Learning/AI/IoT, or any other digital technology with more confidence.


7. Smooth customer experience.

Apple Pay allows us to pay easily and smoothly with our mobile phones. Amazon allows us to order instantly and receive our goods the same day with a smile. Do I need to say more? Your customer experience should at least match the experience of what customers experience from home shopping or delivery. You need to be at par to remain relevant.


8. Co-creation goes beyond the boardroom.

Strategy is not for the board and highbrow consultants only. Vision and strategy is about orchestrating strategic conversations with all members of the company at all different levels. By doing this, your organization will collectively see and feel how customer needs are evolving, what is happening in the market, and where your company wants and need to play. Everybody is then involved and understands how you can win in terms of the best value for your customers. As such, all teams and individuals know how to make a difference and contribute to value-driven growth of the company.


9. Include customer insights.

You can talk about the future for days and imagine the unimaginable. As Barack Obama would say: “You can be most comfortable in your own bubble”. But staying in your bubble is not how to craft a vision and strategy. We need to go out in the real world to gain deep insights about customers and their needs. Insights from customers, either through interviews, videos, or even conversations during the offsite, gives direction and inspiration for making strategic choices. Unfortunately, very few management teams feel comfortable to invite customers to their offsite.


10. Strategy as a story and a heartbeat.

Strategy should not be about the offsite with the boardroom. It should not be this single, once a year event. It is not setting a strategic plan in stone. Strategy is about a clear direction and the journey to validate and develop that direction by continuously engaging leadership and teams throughout the entire organization. You engage by sharing stories about the journey, about the efforts, about the twists and turns, and about the results—both successes and failures. Make this sharing periodically, a so-called strategy heartbeat. This is a communication format tailored to the various audiences in your organization, that runs every other week or month in which people share stories on how your vision and strategy is materializing.


11. The company offsite.

Yeah, the offsite with all of your company employees. A great experience to have strategic conversations and validate explorations of the future. You need to spend time with your teams to think about who you are and where you want to be. You will get great insights from unexpected sources and it gives them time to internalize the strategy and their contribution to making it happen.



We at Business Models Inc. believe that these 11 elements should be part of any vision and strategy work you do.

CEO Amsterdam

Patrick van der Pijl

Author Design a Better Business, design do-er, Amsterdam, inspiration, getting things done, full of ideas, Mini Cooper, strategic smart ass, creator, rebel.

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