Strategy: Keep it simple (but not stupid)

Here’s a short video that reminds us of the power of keeping things simple.

I believe it is important to distinguish simple from simplistic. Simple means “easy to understand,” which is imperative when aligning an organization behind a strategy. The video talks about a local newspaper whose strategy is “names, names, names,” which it found to be the key for making the paper a must read. In Dell’s rapid growth phase, the strategy was “better products and service for lower prices.” Both strategies are powerful and simple to understand.

Simplistic means “oversimplifying by ignoring the complexities.” It means dumbing things down, which can be problematic for developing and communicating strategies. Simplistic strategies are not distinctive. They lack compelling reasons for the target to make a purchase. “Cut costs to be competitive” is simplistic. GM and Chrysler tried this. Sure they needed to cut costs, but they still did not have a strategy for winning.

As you work on your strategy, strive for keeping it simple, but avoid being simplistic.