At Simply StrategicTM we define two primary Strategic Approaches: Opportunistic Strategy or Prescriptive Strategy. Deciding on your Strategic Approach is an essential element of strategic planning.
Let’s start with definitions: Opportunistic strategy tends to diversify resource investments, defer decision making and pursue a wide range of possibilities. Prescriptive strategy, on the other hand, tends to prescribe very specific actions, concentrate resource investments and prioritize around known areas of strength and success.
Where opportunistic strategies optimize for flexibility, nimbleness and market responsiveness, prescriptive strategies optimize for focus, scale and market influence.
The life stage of the organization is the most important factor in determining your organization’s Strategic Approach. Strategy that is overly prescriptive in the start-up phase of the businesses’ life can doom the organization to an orderly and well planned death. The earlier you are in the life of your business, the more opportunistic your strategic approach should be. In the start-up years you are still finding product/market fit, developing your value proposition and figuring out what types of clients you can serve most effectively. Entrepreneurs in the start-up phase must be exceptionally nimble. Sensing and chasing low probability opportunities is often the only path to survival and ultimately success.
But, as the business matures, the pursuit of primarily opportunistic strategies becomes a hindrance. It is at this point where formal Strategic Planning goes from valuable to essential. An effective strategic planning process helps organizations make difficult resource allocation decisions and determine the markets in which they can win. Prescriptive strategy that ties up resources, closes off opportunities or increases focus is usually necessary to achieve the scale and clarity of a true market leader.
As you create your compelling strategy, make sure you understand the stage your organization is in and strive match it to your strategic approach.