Bringing order to chaos. Simplicity to complexity. Vision to practicality. The strategist is there to align stakeholders, solve problems and achieve ambitious objectives. But doing so is not a straightforward task. Not unless you have a strategic framework to depend on.
A strategic framework is a visualization of the components that make up the strategy, their relative position to each other, and the way they need to connect and interact in order to achieve the objective. It includes the metrics needed to gauge performance and the practical steps necessary to achieve the outcome. It is not an esoteric or theoretical document, but a practical one grounded in the real world. So how do you build a strategic framework, particularly in a space as nebulous and subjective as digital strategy?
We have previously explored how to build a digital strategy. These elements remain consistent. They include understanding:
- Client objectives and expectations
- The target audience and their journey to purchase
- The competitive environment
- The client positioning
- Other campaigns, messages and initiatives
We have also built on this by borrowing from the world of management consulting ideas such as Porter’s 5 Forces and the Blue Ocean Strategy. The 5 Forces that Porter identified are the threat of substitutes, the threat of new entrants, the bargaining power of buyers, the bargaining power of suppliers and industry rivalry. The concept of the Blue Ocean Strategy is to:
- Create uncontested market space by reconstructing market boundaries
- Focus on the big picture
- Reach beyond existing demand
- Get the strategic sequence right
The data needed to inform these elements exists in a variety of sources, from analytics sources to stakeholder interviews and competitive research. Viewed collectively, they can appear to be confusing and overwhelming. And this is where the strategic framework comes to bear.
Rather than try to develop our own strategic framework, it would be best to borrow from the leaders in the space, the management consulting companies. A good place to start is the classic McKinsey Frameworks that still apply, particularly the GE-McKinsey nine-box matrix and the 7-S framework.
In choosing which of these types of frameworks or others like them to apply to the world of digital strategy, be sure to choose one that allows for the speed with which our industry moves and changes. This can be achieved by combining a very high level strategic framework with individual connected sections that map out the digital touch-points, showcasing how they interact with each other to create a seamless user experience. The combination of these elements, the strategic framework and the experience map allow for a consistent strategic focus in the face of rapid technological change and also give you the opportunity to visualize how individual tactical changes or enhancements are directly connected to a strategic outcome.
The strategic framework is the mechanism for clearly visualizing the business and the context in which it exists, connecting disparate elements together to drive an outcome. Without this framework, we simply can’t deliver on a digital strategy.
Next week on octopus, we will continue to explore the role of the digital strategist. Please be sure to comment below. I’d love to hear from you. Please subscribe for alerts about new episodes and content. Thank you for listening to octopus. I’m Nasser Sahlool.