The Single Sentence Strategy Statement

Like any message, your corporate strategy is most effectively communicated when it’s short. Easy to say, easy to hear, easy to understand. As I said yesterday, strategy distilled to a single sentence makes a lot of sense.

Here’s an example of a one-sentence strategy statement:

Acme Corporation will add 35,000 net new customers by December 31, 2014 by offering premium, web-based, price comparison software to mid-sized,English-speaking North American commercial construction companies using a “high touch” sales and support approach.

Can you pick out the goal, time frame and context? Can you see Acme’s unique approach?

Condensing their strategy into a single sentence means that it can now be easily communicated to everyone in their organization. This framework saves staff time and energy by pre-empting or easily answering many of the little questions that arise each day:

“Can I attend the European trade show to see what their market is like?”

“Will we bundle hardware with our offering?”

“When will our Spanish version be ready?”

“Will we match our competitor’s price?”

“The residential construction association called. Should I do a presentation for them?”

Their strategy statement influences the larger decisions such as pricing, hiring, product development, sales approach, IT deployment, office development – in fact, every decision can be shaped by this one sentence. It helps management align their entire workforce.

Can you write your firm’s strategy in a single sentence?

P.S. The answers to the five questions above (in case you really need them) are no, no, never, no, and no.

P.P.S. I am grateful to David J. Collis and Michael G. Rukstad, the authors of “Can You Say What Your Strategy Is?” published on page 82 in the April 2008 edition of Harvard Business Review. Great stuff!