The need for a simple statement about your strategy If you can produce a simple statement that captures your strategy, you can then use it to engage your key stakeholders and get them aligned to your strategic direction. Your stakeholders in this sense can mean any group or individual whom you need to understand and engage with: staff, volunteers, beneficiaries, your public and so on…. Packaging your strategy Think about the process of ‘packaging your strategy’ in the same way as any communications exercise: define who the communication is for and what the needs of these groups are; work out how to get their interest and involvement; think about the most appropriate style and approach for them; then craft a simple and engaging statement that meets their needs. Packaging strategy involves the following four steps. Take the steps in sequence and use your work in each step to feed the next: stakeholder definition and needs analysis getting Attention, Interest, Desire and Action (AIDA) paying attention to style and approach crafting the strategy statement. 1) Stakeholder definition and needs analysis Who is the engagement audience? List the stakeholders you need to engage; consider their level of power/influence. What can they offer you? What is their level of contribution to delivering your strategy? What are their engagement needs? Prioritise the stakeholders, then examine their needs and expectations of you: messages and media. Package messages and communicate according to need; the purpose of a strategy is to create value for stakeholders – this value needs to be expressed in order to get engagement. Stakeholder engagement matrix If you like sketching out your thinking, you might like to adapt this stakeholder engagement matrix for your own use. Description of the stakeholder engagement matrix Different engagement tactics according to the level of power and contribution a stakeholder makes to the successful implementation of the strategy. The tactics are: inform needs-based solutions engage in groups engage 1:1 and groups. The more power and contribution, the more you prioritise your time with them and the closer the communication medium (for example, face-to-face). 2) AIDA Once the key stakeholders for strategy implementation have been identified (those with a high priority), an analysis of their engagement needs and expectations can take place. The communications strategy will comprise tools and techniques designed to: A – get their attention I – stimulate their interest D – create a desire in them to engage with the strategy A – get them inspired into action. AIDA diagram Description of the AIDA diagram Think AIDA – ask yourself what will get your stakeholders’ attention, interest, desire and action. The level of engagement increases with each of the AIDA goals, with ‘action’ involving the most engagement. Achieving the AIDA goals Ask yourself what messages and media will help achieve each AIDA goal. You can use this template to help set out your thinking: Key audiencesPreferred media and message Stakeholder Needs and expectations Attention Interest Desire Action 3) Pay attention to style and approach Being appreciative The power of a positive vision (desirable and achievable images that pull people towards them). People are attracted to positive things: passion, hope, confidence. Be clear about what positive outcomes you are seeking; these stakeholders are the ones that will enable your strategy, so be clear about what you need of them. Use positive language and behaviours to energise and inspire. Make communications 2-way: a conversation. ‘Conversation doesn’t just reshuffle the cards, it creates new cards’. Be clear about what people can get involved in creating (and therefore what they can’t be involved in). Planning communications around strategic change Communicate the context and the full picture. Communicate the why as well as the what. Build on the good. Maximise the sense of continuity and stability. Do not wait – invest enough time. Communicate probabilities and scenarios. Give the timescale. Make face to face the main communication channel. Explain the implications for the individual. Use involvement to get commitment – what can people have a part in creating? 4) The strategy statement The key to engagement is clarity about future direction in a statement that: is simple, short, clear, easy to communicate and internalise contains the key implementation message forming the foundation stone for engagement can be used for internal and external stakeholders. Such a statement gives: clarity of expectations (your expectations of them): alignment – all moving in the same direction clarity about what they can contribute, and a basis for the performance management cascade focus and a view of priority: integration across the organisation criteria for decision making ‘guiding light for making difficult choices’. Force yourself to be crystal clear in your strategy statement The objective of your strategy: What is your strategy designed to achieve? What will drive your organisation for the next three years? The scope of your strategy: What are the boundaries? Where will you not go? What will you not do? The advantage your strategy will deliver: what you will do differently or better than others what beneficiaries and funders will get from you (and no-one else). Use this template to help guide you through the process of developing a strategy statement (Word) Further reading ‘Appreciative Inquiry for Change Management’, Lewis, Passmore, Cantore (2008) Kogan Page London. ‘Can you say what your strategy is?’, (pdf 305.68kb) Collis and Ruckstad, Harvard Business Review, April 2008.
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- Strategy case studies