This article, Why Popular Strategies Fade, is a great reminder about strategies through the last 5 or 6 decades.  I am borrowing liberally from it!  “A great strategy is unique, specific, and complete; it stands on the shoulders of a big idea; and it is owned by a leader who is ultimately responsible for its implementation.”  “Great strategies answer five critical questions (“the strategic five”) in ways that are unique to your company: (1) What business or businesses should your company be in? (2) How should you add value to your businesses? (3) Who should be the target customers for your businesses? (4) What should be your value propositions to those target customers? (5) What capabilities should differentiate your ability to add value to your businesses and deliver their value propositions?”

With the speed of change in our world we need to ask ourselves these questions at least once a year as we set our path forward to change with the needs of our communities and with the opportunities provided by new technology.  We also need to grab those big ideas and opportunities when they pop up.  Libraries like to think they were at the heart of the “third place” movement, but Starbucks made it extremely successful. “Starbucks’s strategy to create a nationwide chain of coffee shops as a “third place” between office and home originated in Howard Schultz’s big idea to re-create the Italian espresso bar experience.” So what can we learn from them?

“Great strategies always go against the grain of accepted wisdom. Markets and organizations have powerful immune systems that erect multiple barriers to implementation. Leaders who own their strategies are more likely to persevere through such resistance, and prevail. Great strategies take leaders who believe enough in them — and the ideas they depend on — to be willing to fight their own organization and the broader market for however long it takes to realize the strategy…Larry Page and Sergey Brin sought to “organize the world’s information” with their idea to rank Web pages the way academic publications are ranked. They started Google because no one would buy their idea.”

Strategy can never stand still. A great strategy can quickly become mediocre in a dynamic market. You should always be seeking ways to open your eyes to new possibilities for your strategies. Strategy concepts are one such way if they stimulate your thinking without substituting for it, and if they enhance your strategy without becoming it. Those are two big ifs. To exploit strategy concepts without allowing them to take over, consider each one that comes along to be an opportunity to challenge and improve the strategy you already have. If you don’t already have a strategy to which you are truly committed, you are particularly vulnerable to being captured by the latest strategy fashion. If you do, ask how a new concept can enhance it. But never let that concept become a shortcut: a way to skip the hard work of identifying the big idea that will power your company’s strategy; of formulating a unique, specific, and complete set of answers to the “strategic five”; and of owning your strategy through thick and thin.”