What the heck is strategy and why bother?

By Rob Legge – 3rd Sector Coach

When I was much younger and started to get promotions in a very large national charity a senior manager gave me some interesting advice. He said:


To this day I am not sure how firmly his tongue was in his cheek.

So what is strategy?

Mindtools.com suggests the following:3

Or more succinctly: the creation of a long-term plan.

Or you can go the other way and dive into the top 10 must-reads from the Harvard Business Review and read (as I did) the following:

  • What is Strategy? By Michael E Porter
  • Building your company’s vision by James Collins and Jerry Porras
  • Transforming Corner office strategy into Frontline Action by Michael C Mankins and Richard Steels

Strategy is useful

Strategy is useful, but we need to ensure it to benefits our charity and ourselves practically. Too many spend so much energy – and particularly senior management time – to craft a masterpiece strategy document, only to refer to it in passing for the next five years.

I have been lucky enough to have worked with several organisations using simple strategic tools such as SWOT, followed by good research to help create a clear direction, motivate staff and help senior management and trustees reallocate scarce resources to deliver the strategy.

This approach also helps senior managers remain focused and resist the temptation to go after the next so-called opportunity or seductive funding application!

A new sense of purpose, energy and clarity – not only for your organisation, but for you too!

Increasingly I work with individuals who have got to a place in their careers, either through redundancy or length of service, where they are asking, “what next?”

I have found by adapting “strategic planning” and reducing this down to simple practical tools, it has helped them restart their lives with a new sense of purpose, energy and clarity.

And in today’s complex, crazy world that is worth holding on to.

What the heck is strategy and why bother_(2)

Rob Legge runs regular sessions on Leadership and Management, including Strategic Planning, at BVSC as part of our training programme. Find out more about BVSC training and browse current courses.


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