How long should your strategy be?
Explore the ideal length for your strategy documents to ensure clarity and impact, with expert insights from StratNavApp.com.
This question crops up frequently enough to know it is a problem for some people.
Some people argue that a strategy should be short. Because people don't read long documents. Because they have limited spans of attention. Because a strategy should be a simple directive that everyone can follow.
Others argue that a strategy should be long. Because it needs to contain all the evidence and rationale to convince the reader that the strategy is sound, the risks are identified and mitigated, and that detailed plans and budgets are in place. Leave anything out, they argue, and people will start to doubt, misinterpret and deviate from it.
However, the initial question is wrong.
A strategy is not a document.
It has no length.
A strategy is an integrated set of decisions or policies about how to get from where you are to where you want to be. It describes how you will overcome the key barriers to success.
A strategy may be articulated in a document. In fact, it may be described in many different documents, each tailored to a specific purpose and/or audience. And it may contain supplementary material, such as why you want to go there, and why this set of decisions or policies is the best way to get there. And it may contain lots of supporting evidence and rationale.
Yet, all of those documents still represent and articulate the same strategy.
The very notion of a document is increasingly fluid these days. We still have something approximating a traditional document, like a Word document. Some strategy documents exist only as Powerpoint slide decks. And, or course, there are many dynamic formats incorporating hyperlinks between otherwise separate pages, or sections which open and close to reveal and hide more detail.
You might have:
- one quite detailed document which is presented to the board for approval and contains lots of factual and detailed supporting evidence.
- a shorter document which is included as part of the annual report for shareholders and which outlines the financial benefits of the strategy in considerably less detail.
- a Powerpoint slide show which communicates the plan and rationale in a relatively high-level and motivational manner for staff briefings. This could be accompanied by more detailed supplements only for those who are interested or require more detail for their specific jobs.
- one or more posters around the office driving home key aspects of your strategy.
In fact, strategy communication best practice is a whole discipline on its own!
Each of these different documents would have a different length, style and format, and would include different content at different levels of detail.
So, while each individual document may have a length appropriate to its purpose, the strategy itself does not have a length.
In StratNavApp.com, your strategy, and all the supplementary information required to develop and execute it are stored in a structured repository, not a document. This frees you from the traditional constraints of the document. Our reporting module allows you to extract different elements of it to meet specific requirements at specific points in time.