“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”
Strategy. Anyone planning something important sooner or later will say “I have a strategy!” In reality, however, what they likely have is a “vision” on paper or, at best, a set of tactical moves drawn up. A real strategy is more than a plan. Strategy and tactics are both required to achieve specific objectives, but strategy focuses on how resources are deployed and allocated, while tactics refers to how the resources are employed.
Here is a simple example of a successful strategy.
The TRG Strategy
Clint Bruce is the founder and CEO of Trident Response Group (TRG), a Dallas-based security company. Mr. Bruce is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and a former member of SEAL Team FIVE with which he deployed multiple times abroad in various leadership roles during the Global War on Terror.
After his tours, Bruce left the Navy to focus on his family and pursue a career as a financial advisor in Dallas, TX. While working in the financial sector was rewarding, the drive to be elite was no longer present. That changed in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans and a new strategy was born.
A strategy is a planned, doable sequence of actions designed to achieve a distinct and measurable goal. A strategy is a strategy if:
- It has a story to tell
- It has an intended purpose
- There is plan of action
- It has a sequence of activity
- It has a distinct measurable goal
When the hurricane hit New Orleans, the owner of the Fairmont Hotel in Dallas, knowing Mr. Bruce’s background, called asking for advice on how to get their people out of their New Orleans hotel. Mr. Bruce offered several options with the last one being “or I can go get them!” With that, Mr. Bruce put together a 10-person team made up of known special operations veterans and headed to New Orleans to extract those trapped in the flooded hotel. Over 900 people were rescued by Mr. Bruce and his team.
This successful rescue made Mr. Bruce realize that his SEAL training, combined with his combat experience had unique applications within the civilian world. This led to the founding of Trident Response Group.
Learning from the hotel rescue, Mr. Bruce designed an intelligence-based consulting firm specializing in risk mitigation, threat solutions, and readiness training. Knowing what he didn’t know, Mr. Bruce recruited talent from federal law enforcement investigators, executive protection experts, intelligence operatives, cyber-security experts and as importantly, people from the business sector. The ideal TRG client base would be business executives, their families and their companies.
TRG would have six specific missions:
- Safety and security of the clients
- Personal defense and executive protection for the client
- Education and readiness training for the client
- Due diligence, risk mitigation and cyber-security for the client
- Investigative services for the client
- Expert speakers (motivational, informative and educational) for the client
The plan was simple and built around what 95% of TRG’s incoming staff would recognize, the military five paragraph operations order. The plan would be fleshed out with four things TRG wished to accomplish:
- Work for the best business leaders
- Be the trusted “go to consultant”
- Hire and mentor military veterans as they transition to the civilian workforce
- Identify veterans in the pipeline who excel at the mission and groom for TRG’s leadership
Sequence of Action:
TRG built a sequence of action to address each level of activity:
- Assemble a team with the traits, skills, and knowledge designed to fit the TRG team
- Prepare a timeline beginning with “now” and ending with “goal achieved
- Have actions for each goal listed sequentially
- Estimate cost and expenditures required for each task and create a budget.
- Assign tasks at each goal on the timeline and assign an employee or team to that goal
- Sub-tasks Questions
- What are the top five things you need to accomplish?
- Who will do what?
How will they do it?
- By what date will it be complete?
- What is the backup plan should the task fail to be completed on time?
- Identify problem areas and their causes with proposed resolutions.
- Monitor activity and create milestones to measure progress on each activity.
- Allocate financial, physical and human resources for each course of action.
- Implement the plan with a warning order and followed with an operations order.
*Note – Military orders are:
Warning Order: a preliminary notice of a coming order from the commander.
Operations Order: “five-paragraph operations order” is a directive issued by the commander.
Fragmentary Order (Frag-O): an abbreviated order issued daily to adjust or change orders.
Create A Measurable Goal: TRG established a date/time group to track each sub-section of a project dealing with daily goals and weekly milestones. TRG also used three business school tools designed to provide structure, guidance, measurability and the value of services to clients.
S = Specific: Be goal oriented.
M = Measurable: It must be quantifiable.
A = Attainable: Keep goals realistic.
R = Relevant: Be reasonable, resourced and results based.
T = Timely: Be time based, time limited, time/cost limited and time sensitive.
V = Value: Do we have the resources & the capability? Yes!
R = Rarity: Are our resources/capability limited to only a few competitors? Yes!
I = Imitability: Is what we do difficult to imitate, and costly for others to imitate? Yes!
O = Organization: Are we organized and ready to capture value? Yes!
S = Strengths: What strengths does TRG have over its competitors?
W = Weaknesses: What weaknesses does TRG have compared to its competitors?
O = Opportunities: What opportunities does TRG have compared to its competitors?
T = Threats: What threats are the most realistic to TRG compared to its competitors?
The TRG strategy allowed the executive team to assess both its corporate strategy and its competitive strategy using the SMART assessment. Our corporate strategy defined the markets and the businesses we would pursue based on our VRIO assessment. Our competitive strategy was defined by our company’s own uniqueness and a SWOT analysis of our competitor’s.
That was the TRG strategy. Mr. Bruce’s vision inspired an idea which focused on how our resources would be gathered and used. As we said in the beginning, strategy comes from the different experiences of making tough decisions. Our strategy was a planned, doable sequence of activity designed to achieve a distinct and measurable goal. And we did it and so can you.