Sometimes we get requests from clients that seem very bizarre at first. Recently, we were creating a brand for a new foundation and the client insisted on incorporating a blue heron into the brand elements. The great blue heron, or animals in general, had nothing to do with the work of the foundation… ”It’s how they behave” that inspired the client.
So I started to study the heron, watch them, and I realized that the giant bird possesses three key traits of a good strategist.
How do you match up?
Research. The heron chooses just the right location to catch just the right size of fish. The location and depth of the water, the time of day, every factor seems to be carefully selected. Considering it’s a matter of eating or not, the heron chooses wisely in order to ensure success.
A strategist must choose the right market and the right customer groups to focus on. A strategist learns everything about the customer, the industry, trends, behavioural drivers and the internal capabilities of the organization in order to deliver.
Patience. Once the heron is in the water – it waits. It’s patient and graceful. It doesn’t look frazzled or second guess the well researched strategy.
The heron has what Michael Porter calls continuity of strategy. It takes time for an organization to develop competitive advantages, to understand its value, trade-offs, and strategic fit. It takes time for employees to develop mastery of the value chain and deliver efficiency gains. In a world and economy that promotes change, it may actually be your intentional patience that leads to better results.
Execution. The heron strikes with deadly precision. Its focus on execution is paramount.
A strategist knows that good execution is absolutely critical to fulfilling the strategic aim. Execution requires leadership that establishes clear objectives, communicates effectively, allocates resources to the right areas, and removes distractions to allow their employees to focus on delivering on what their roles expects of them.
Are you a blue heron strategist?
Do you invest time and resources to research?
Are you patient and focused enough to allow continuity of strategy to permeate your organization or team?
On a scale of 1-10, how effective is your organization at executing (and how do you compare to your competitors)?
Evaluating the quality of our internal strategies might require a different approach; consider looking in unlikely places, or to unlikely creatures 🙂 for inspiration.
Have a great day!