Forget it. There is none.
No matter how many books and blogs you read, or how many strategy conferences you attend: The steps to “manufacture” strategy just don’t exist, and that’s completely fine. The essence of strategy is creative thinking by the strategist with no boundaries or limitations rather than the own forces. Therefore it’s not something that we can produce as result of an ABC process.
This doesn’t mean that we can’t identify common elements in winning strategies. All they share the same factors: problem solving, maximisation of own strengths, overcoming of weaknesses, out of the box thinking, vision and anticipation are ingredients of any successful strategy. But it doesn’t mean that by adding them we will come up with one strategy ourselves, it’s not that easy.
Let’s see an example.
Trying to define a process to create strategies would be as absurd as creating a process to come up with new dishes in a restaurant.
Imagine gathering your Head Chef and his team in a meeting and showing them a powerpoint like this:
“To create a new dish you need ingredients, that might be or not cooked, combined in a way that they complement one each other and presented in a creative way that appeals the diner’s taste“.
That would be rather stupid.
What we should do, if we wanted to come up with a radical game changer, is to give the cooking team the weapons and tools to come up with strategies:
“To create a new dish you need to understand the essence of each ingredient. Be aware of the latest technology advances in cooking. Attend conferences. Read magazines. Be aware of what others are doing, what the consumers are asking for, and (most important) anticipate what the future trends will be and shape them by creating the dishes that will be reference in the future, with trends that noone else is considering now“.
That’s how you can come up with a great dish, and a new strategy. But still you need a big deal of strategic thinking.
The greatest cooks like the world famous Catalan Ferran Adrià don’t follow any powerpoint process to come up with revolutions that challenge the traditional status quo, like his famous spherifications.
These revolutions in a stablished field like cuisine are the result of their creativity, expertise, vision and willingness to handle huge amounts of risk.
When asked about what’s the source of his talented skill, Ferran Adrià reminds us that it’s all about creativity. In his mentor’s words (Chef Jaques Maximin):
Frameworks and models are great to have a deep understanding of what the strategy needs to solve for. Study cases are invaluable as source of inspiration, learning how great leaders and strategist went beyond the establishment to set new ground in their fields. How they transformed weaknesses in strengths and their gifted skill of seeing opportunities where noone else did. But, at the end of the day, creating a new strategy is a process that can’t be sliced in steps.
It’s a combination of knowledge, expertise, experience, talent, courage and creativity that the Strategist leads.