On Strategy Frameworks

When and how to use them?

This post is part of a series on strategy and planning for growth.

A couple of "professional strategists" felt personally attacked by yesterday's post. I'll insist: Doing strategy is not about seeking complexity and working with countless abstract ideas and jargon. But the opposite.

Most of the time, strategy is intuitive. You will know a strategic issue when you “see” it. And as those challenges and obstacles to fulfilling your business vision jump out, you start exploring and identifying potential plans of action to address them.

But what if those strategic issues are not that obvious? Sometimes it might be hard to find out what the core challenges are in the middle of a sea of information. Or you suspect there's something wrong that deserves attention but don't quite know how it works or how you can affect it.

This is when you can turn to strategy frameworks.

Strategy frameworks are tools to help you think more clearly. As we saw, the goal is to bring new value to the market. Having a structured approach to analyzing your current situation can make it easier for you to identify what deserves more of your attention.

Some popular strategy frameworks include the SWOT analysis, the PEST analysis, Porter's Five Forces, the Ansoff Matrix, and many more. I won't get into details since there are hundreds of them. Of course, each has its pros and cons and is better suited for specific companies in a specific context.

This takes me back to this blog post I wrote a few weeks ago - the framework you choose to use when analyzing your consultancy matters just as much as the process you go through to rethink it. I was referring to frameworks for reviewing your business model, but the same can be said of any strategy framework. The tool you chooses shape your process, and the process will bias results.

So if you do choose to use a framework for your strategy work, I highly recommend you ask yourself:

  • What are the pros and cons of this framework?
  • For what kind of businesses is this best suited?
  • For what kind of situations is this best suited?

Never trust a strategy consultant or advisor that cannot articulate why he recommends a given framework and what it might be missing. The goal is to help you think more clearly. But it might lead you to time-consuming or oversimplified analysis that provides you with no valuable new insights.

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