The Essence of Strategy

What is the essence of good strategy? The attempt to answer that question has filled more pages of business books than anyone could count, most of them essentially useless. For every piece of advice that points in one direction there are invariably a dozen which point somewhere else; strategy isn’t a “one size fits all” topic and many best-selling books on the subject are dangerous because they attempt to position one strategic approach as a universal solution. In real life there is a time to focus and a time to diversify, a time to invest and a time to restructure. Half the battle is knowing your situation, and deciding which strategy is appropriate; the rest comes down to execution, that less talked-about aspect of business without which strategy is meaningless.

Nevertheless there are some characteristics of good strategy that transcend the situational. If we work on the assumption that strategy requires a knowledge of your desired destination (what you want your business to be or become) and a relentless commitment to excellence in achieving this, strategy becomes the roadmap, the backbone upon which plans are based. This is important, because without a clear view of the goal, strategy is unlikely to be successful. How could it be? It’s like trying to figure out directions without knowing where you’re going.

This doesn’t mean, however, that having a good strategy will make you feel comfortable. On the contrary, a powerful strategy is about navigating from where you are to where you want to be, and this inevitably means change, challenge, risk and discomfort. If you’re executing a strategy you’ll be doing something. You’re on a path and it will be clear what needs to get done but that doesn’t mean it will be easy, certain or “safe”. What you actually do will depend on your situation, your goals and, of course, your strategy. You might be investing in new channels, expanding your offering, adding manufacturing capacity, acquiring a related business or building a brand. You could be rationalizing product lines or production sites, qualifying new suppliers, outsourcing activities or reducing overhead. Whatever it is though, it should feel like you’re moving.

Executing strategy is like exercising: if it doesn’t feel a bit uncomfortable you’re not pushing hard enough. It might not matter now, but watch out, because sooner or later someone leaner, fitter and more committed might decide that your business lies in the middle of their strategic pathway.

Eye of a St Louis Web Designer

As weeks go if I compare last week with this week, they are like chalk and cheese.

This week has been a whirl wind of activity. I secured contracts for three new web sites, started design work on said sites, juggled all exisiting projects…currently numbering 13. I have jumped around from logo design to seo work to brochure design, web site population, web site design…

As a contrast last week was a week of complete relaxation on the Oregon coast…such a great place to go especially when it was 90+ deg. here in St Louis.

After this week I feel in need of another vacation already!

Another great printer for your design projects

I recently had some business cards printed for a project and decided to give another printer a try. My usual printer is, I have been very happy with their service and results. However a quick Google search brought up and after a few minutes looking through their web site the price for their premium business cards was rather appealing. I placed the order and recieved the cards within the week. The quality was great.

My first order resulted in a flood of emails from Vista Print with offers for free this and free that. I thought I’d take advantage of one of these offers…not exactly free as they charge for design upload..around $4.00 if my memory serves me right. And then there was shipping. I opted for the slow shipping but recieved my oversized postcards within the week. But another great result, 5he printing was crisp and clean and the colors spot on.

I will definately be using them again

We are being published in a new design book!

One of our web site has recently been selected to feature in a new design book, Market Smart Design. It will be published by Harper Collins in Spring 2009.

“MARKET SMART DESIGN Great Design Examples Created Specifically For Target Markets.
A smart, new graphic design bookfocusing on market segmentation.”

The site we created for “The Rockwood” , a senior living community, will feature in the Baby Boomers category.

During the entire design process we kept a high level of focus on the target audience of the site. It features an important usability option allowing a visitor to easily adjust the size of the type on the page.

We are delighted “The Rockwood” has been selected for publishing!

New web site for St Louis Woman Exchange

Last week saw the launch of a new web site for The St Louis Woman Exchange

We evolved the design of their original site and created a completely new navigational tool. The new site features a more user focused home page with funnels to three main offering of the exchange, a children’s boutique, a gift shop and their famous tea room.

The web site is configured so the client can easily update by themselves.