We had the privilege of hosting Dr Marc Sniukas, author and international strategy advisor, at a recent business breakfast, where he challenged our thinking with his thoughts on an Always-On Strategy and how executives can benefit from this iterative approach.

Conventional strategy models are rapidly becoming antiquated in an age of constant evolution and unforeseen disruptions. The modern organisation demands a fresh approach: a pertinent, adaptable, and perpetually active strategy.

Marc opened the discussion brilliantly by paraphrasing Richard Rumelt’s* definition of strategy – he said, “Strategy is the response to challenges that keep you from reaching your ambitions.

As the conversation matured, we better understood how this definition of strategy offers a balanced perspective that is proactive (focusing on ambitions) and reactive (responding to challenges). It served as a reminder that strategy isn’t just about planning for the future but also about navigating present obstacles.

From this foundational perspective, Dr Sniukas explored the need for:

  1. Simplicity and clarity: That strategy must be straightforward to understand. If CEOs clearly state their ambitions, list external and internal challenges, and articulate their chosen response, the strategy can easily be converted into organisational goals and implemented.
  2. Focus on both challenges and ambitions: By emphasising challenges and ambitions, strategists are reminded of the primary reason for devising a strategy in the first place: to overcome obstacles and realise ambitions.
  3. Adaptability: A strategy isn’t a static plan but a continually evolving response to the challenges an organisation faces – the ambition remains the “north star”, but the responses adapt according to shifting challenges.
  4. Proactivity: By viewing strategy as a ‘response,’ there’s an implicit call to action. It urges organisations to be proactive in recognising challenges and crafting suitable responses on shorter timescales, e.g. three to six months.
  5. Measurement: Performance metrics should be oriented towards overcoming challenges rather than mere plan adherence to keep the strategy perpetually active.

After reviewing several “good strategy, bad strategy” case studies, it became evident that adopting and maintaining an always-on strategic approach is paramount in the brisk rhythm of modern business.

Reflecting on how we assist our clients in formulating their growth strategies, it was refreshing to see that we have an aligned approach in that we assist our clients in crafting an ambition that is unique to them, we identify influencing factors (opportunities and challenges), we create a formula for success that will deliver on their ambition, and we help identify strategic themes and objectives that need to be achieved to move the strategy forward.

Wonderfully, through the successful deployment of OKRs as a strategic execution framework, we have learnt the value of being adaptable as it allows for the reflecting and resetting of objectives on a quarterly basis, helping to keep strategy alive, relevant and always on.


* “Strategy is problem-solving. It is how you overcome the obstacles that stand between where you are and what you want to achieve.” – The Crux: How Leaders Become Strategists (2022), Richard P. Rumelt (professor of strategy at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management)

Chad Schaefer

Author Chad Schaefer

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