Strategy As A Solution - what you can learn from the Roman military
I help my clients do one thing: save time and make more money.
Sounds simple enough? But the reality is that businesses, however small, are a complex ecosystem of competing priorities. The real skill in running a business comes from understanding how to balance all those nuances to maximum effect.
I call that Strategy As A Solution
The word strategy actually takes its roots from Roman military; the plans of war and battles designed to achieve a long-term aim of world domination.
Perhaps your business isn’t trying to take over the world, but it probably is trying to compete with others to find a space it can occupy. So the roots still hold true that it’s about the smaller battles you succeed in to achieve your overall long term aim.
The problem I often encounter in SMEs is that this planning (the how we will achieve domination?) is the starting point for them. But to me, there are two steps before the strategy is formed that if not well defined will undoubtedly result in wasted time and reduced profit.
How can I be so sure? Because the conflict between competing priorities paralyses decision making, which causes wasted time, that in turn costs more money or loses opportunity for sales.
Picking your battles
Let’s work backwards..! The question preceding ‘how we will achieve domination’ is ‘what do we want to achieve’. Or to put another way what’s the long-term aim?
Obvious, but as I said nuance is key here. This simple question is a veritable pandora’s box of sub-questions. Why is that our aim? What might get in our way? What are our strengths and our opponents weaknesses?
In business terms we’re really talking here about a well-formed business plan. Wars are won on the intelligence they gather to analyse the situation and external/internal factors to success.
Many SMEs are ideas driven, so you start at the solution and drive towards it through a ‘strategy’, but by not doing a thorough job of this analysis up front you waste time exploring it as you go, making mistakes that you could have foreseen or predicted.
What makes a strategy ultimately effective is having a couple of likely scenarios mapped out so that when something unexpected comes your way, you can react to it faster and more effectively. The thinking has already been partially done so you save time when it’s most critical.
Hence; pick your battles. A good business plan allows you to decide quickly which battles you will tackle and which you will leave in order to achieve your aim.
Understanding your identity
I said at the start there were two key questions before the strategy, and for me the real starting point for all this is ‘Who are we?’.
Sounds a bit modern and existential? Well the Roman’s knew who they were. They believed themselves to be superior and wanted to spread this across the whole world, they wanted to be known as the best, and to be revered.
Without this identity they wouldn’t have embarked on the strategy to begin with. They didn’t start with the idea that world domination might be fun to do.
To flip that around, how can you pick your battles if your long-term aim doesn’t align to who you are, i.e. the motivation for the long-term goal. If the Romans had a different meeker identity, they may not have been able to agree on the best way forward for world domination, because it goes against who they are.
In my clients that were struggling to get their idea to fruition, it all came back to an undefined identity. Once they determined this, they had a clear sense of what battlegrounds they wanted to take on, and where they were ultimately going.
Drill Sergeant Audeo Fortis
To recap; the 3 key questions to building a solid strategy that will save you time and make you money are:
- Who are we? (Corporate Identity)
- What do we want to achieve? (Business Plan)
- How will we achieve it? (Strategy)
If you want to get started, we suggest starting at the beginning and watch the video below to find out if your corporate identity stacks up.
If you want to really save time and make more money, then contact me for your free business review.