Today, I had my first class at the Utrecht Summer School, Utrecht, the Netherlands, where I am taking a course titled: A Real-World Perspective- Manage Your Business Abroad.
I learnt a lot about strategies and the major highlight; for me was the topic on strategy statement. I was able to see how it was different from the mission, values and vision statements of an organisation.
What is a Strategy Statement?
A strategy statement defines an organisation’s competitive advantage and how it wants to track the implementation of its strategy.
Why is a strategy statement important for a civil society organisation (CSO)?
Nowadays, CSOs serve communities with a heavy reliance on philanthropic and government funding in the wake of economic downturns. They, therefore, depend on unsustainable funding. Hence, building a sustainable funding solution through social entrepreneurship is what every organisation should consider.
Social entrepreneurship is solving the major problems of the world by building sustainable solutions through viable social enterprise business models.
Every organisation must have a strategy statement because ‘if you do not know where you are going, you may attempt to take any existing road which may not lead to your destination’. With a convincing strategy statement, organisations would be able to create a strong value proposition for the services they offer. The statement will enable them to strategically carve a niche for themselves, hence, attracting the right stakeholders to patronise their services.
The strategy statement should have these three elements below;
Goal: The goal is a high-level statement that outlines what exactly you want to achieve, with a clearly stated deadline. In other words, it is something that can be tangibly achieved.
Scope: The scope refers to the products and services an organisation plans to offer over a specific period and indicates where and to which target audience they will be sold.
Advantage: The advantage talks about the unique features of an organisation and the values that are perceived by the targeted audience as significant and superior to the competition.
How to develop a strategy statement for an organisation
It is possible to have two organisations with similar vision and mission statements. This can easily be so because these two, respectively, respond to the questions attributed to where the organisation wants to be and why they exist. Therefore, to create a distinction between one organisation from another, the strategy statement plays a key role by clearly articulating the goals, scope and unique competitive advantage of the organisation. These, embodied in the strategy statement, can make the organisation stand out.
The goal: The strategy statement explains the goal that you want to achieve over some time time. This goal must be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound (SMART).
For example, you cannot say “you seek to grow profitably” because profit and growth are not the same so you need to be clear on which of them you want to choose so that it can help in decision making) and this makes up the objective element of a strategy statement.
The scope, on the other hand, can be in 3 dimensions they are;
The targeted audience referring to the people you are providing the solution for.
The geographical location which explains where and how the community or the environmental impact is located.
Vertical integration explains how much you are willing to do tasks that can be outsourced to other service providers. For example, this can be demonstrated by your willingness to handle the logistics for your programmes instead of outsourcing them.
The advantage is the value proposition of the organisation. This is a very crucial element of the strategy statement. It has two dimensions.
The first is the beneficiary value proposition. A strategy statement should explain why a beneficiary should buy your product or service. The second part is what captures the unique activities that allow your initiative alone to deliver that beneficiary value proposition.
In summary, a strategy statement can be represented as STRATEGY STATEMENT = GOAL + SCOPE + ADVANTAGE.
I would end this by giving the strategy statement of a popular company in the business world – Edward Jones. Their strategy statement at a point in their business was; “To grow up to 17,000 financial advisers by 2012 by offering trusted and convenient face to face financial advice to conservative individual investors who delegate their financial decisions, through a national network of one financial adviser offices”.
If you carefully look at this statement it explains;
The objective; which is to grow up to a certain number by a particular year.
The scope; which refers to conservative individual investors.
The value proposition; is to offer trusted and convenient face to face financial advice.
How they want to uniquely achieve it: they want to achieve this by using the national network of one financial adviser offices.
I think social entrepreneurs in Africa should begin to think of developing strategy statements for their organisations because their major competition (for-profit business) already have these structures in place. For social entrepreneurship to thrive in West Africa it must possess a great strategy to be able to compete.
NOTE: Opinion expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the West Africa Civil Society Institute.