Recent Posts



The 6 A's of Strategy

Strategy development is difficult in practice and definition. Of course, when it is difficult to define your objective, then achieving it is more difficult. The focus of strategy development is generally on crafting analysis rather than execution. Strategy processes tend to answer the questions what they want to do, why they want to do it, who will do it, and how they will do it. Usually, left unanswered are the execution questions of when and where the objectives are achieved. This process leads to the undesirable outcome where a good strategy fails due to poor execution. Even this conclusion may not be correct as it fails to include execution as part of the strategy process. The 6A strategy process integrates these questions into components to Assess, Analyze, Alternatives, Align, Act, and Adapt. While there is no certainty of success, a coherent framework provides consistency to the strategy process, so that the chance of achieving the mission and realizing the vision increases.


Definitional Clarity. Strategy is actions taken that are designed to meet stakeholder expectations by defining where the long-term path of the organization leads, what path is taken to achieve the objective, and how the organization aligns resources to its advantage as the journey along the path evolves. Within this definition, there are three parts: where are we going (vision & mission), what plan will deliver the results (planning), and how to align the organization (implementation).

Business leaders tend to focus on one part of the strategy process: vision and mission, planning, or implementation. While they are all part of a strategy process, focusing on one component without the others will leave the strategy incomplete. Strategy is properly viewed as linked elements of a process with the objective of achieving the mission. The goal of the 6A Strategy process is to connect the various tools of strategy into a simple framework.

Achieving 6A. Using a process framework does not deliver a successful strategy. Business is highly competitive and continually evolving. Leaders and laggards can change places quickly, as Apple and RIM discovered. The framework, however, does provide a coherent and consistent process that helps to reduce the risk from a selected strategy. The primary objective is to identify the occurrence of strategic drift and when a response is necessary.

The 6A Strategy program contains two stages: strategic planning and strategic execution, which are connected by the selected strategy. The planning stage where we Assess, Analyze and determine Alternatives that will result in the selected strategy, while the execution stage is where we Align, Act, and Adapt to implement the selected strategy. Together they lead to a strategy process that aids in the achievement of the mission of the business so that the business vision is realized.

Envisioning the Mission. It is said that all journeys begin with the first step, which is not exactly correct. First, you have to decide in which direction you are going to step. Of course, you could just walk randomly; however, this does not require a strategy. Alternatively, an enterprise may have a vision and mission without engaging in any strategy discussion, which makes achieving the objective a function of luck.

As with all strategy, 6A strategy begins with the setting of the goals. The first step is where are you going or the vision. The particular purpose of the vision is to inspire people to deliver the selected strategy. Critically, it answers the question of why is the enterprise undertaking this mission (e.g. simplify strategy, reducing risk). The answers may focus on solving a customer need, growth in the business, encouraging cultural values, or any other objective that inspires people to do their business. The key is that there is an incentive for people to make a difference and perform at a high level.

The mission of the enterprise contrasts with the vision by stating where we are. Broadly speaking, the mission defines what the enterprise does, how it does it, and for whom. More narrowly, the mission defines what customer want is addressed (e.g. how to develop a successful strategy), how the enterprise meets this desire (e.g. providing a framework for analysis), and who are the company's customers (e.g. business leaders). With the objectives defined, the work begins as planning and execution commence.