The role of a leader is to gather people and direct their energies towards a shared purpose.

Deciding how to achieve that direction is strategy.

But, so many agency leaders struggle to define a clear strategy. Some end up with a meaningless word-soup aspirational statement, some make something more like a task list.

This week we'll look at how to formulate a strategy you can actually use.

Recently, we've been exploring The Pyramid of Purpose — our framework for founders to design their agencies and focus their work as CEOs. See the intro, the edition on Purpose, and the edition on Culture. Now we get to the strategy section.

I believe that strategy is made up of two layers: Ambitions and Focus.

The Pyramid of Purpose

Ambitions are the biggest things your agency wants to achieve to fulfil its purpose in the next few years. No more than 3 things or the strategy becomes wishy washy. As the name suggests, they should be ambitious — representing a significant advance for your agency.

If you feel your agency's internal fire could be burning a little more brightly at the moment maybe you need to set or communicate your big ambitions more clearly?

Strategy is about making choices, and you'll have to make a few hard choices about what to leave out in selecting those ambitions — but nothing like the hard choices you'll have to make when deciding on the next layer.

The focus layer shows the 2-5 areas in which you want your agency to expend most of its energy, believing that this will lead towards the ambitions.

You have a fixed number of people on the team, with a fixed number of brains between them (usually the same number), and a fixed number of hours in the day. So as a leader, a key task is being clear about how you want those brains and hours to be used.

If your team's energies are low, it may be because you're spread too thinly, with a lack of focus.

So, this week, take some time to think about your ambitions for your agency that could galvanise your team, and the areas of focus that would direct their energy towards these ambitions.

Workshops to reignite your agency

  • The Pyramid of Purpose: how to design your agency and better focus your work as a CEO.
    Next date: 29th June. Book your place now
  • Horizon Scanning for agencies: how to better see what's ahead and design your agency to be respond and adapt.
    Next date: 28th June. Book your place now

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