Strategy: an important ingredient to success!

StrategyMany people I worked with or met, be it in the NGO world or in corporations, kept asking why time should be lost writing or even thinking about strategies: nobody ever reads them and sooner rather than later if not directly, they will find their way to the bin. The simple answer is that most of the people simply don’t understand what a strategy is and what it does. Not only is a strategy an ideal way to put your thoughts into a structured framework and to make them more tangible; no, it also gives you a powerful tool at hand that will help you sell your ideas and plans in a professional and successful manner. In addition, it will also enable you to measure whether you have reached your objectives and how or if you need to adjust your measures and tools.

If you don’t know where you are going, how do you know when you get there?

Let me explain this to you: imagine you are asked to drive a new product launch and all you have are highly interesting and valid but loosely tied bits and pieces of your product managers, your marketing people and your engineers. How are you going to convince your customers – let alone your internal stakeholders who are first on the list – of the added value of your product if there is no thread, no thoroughly reflected and grounded path and no story?

Or how are you going to convince external donors and stakeholders to give to your organisation/association or to become active volunteers/members if you cannot show them where you are heading and what you have achieved so far and will in the future.

Well, I think it will be difficult…

Even if every single milestone you think of while writing your strategy, will confront you inevitably with new questions, issues and problems, it will only allow you to dig deeper in order to find out the true value proposition, goal or objective that will create the ‘wow’ effect in your customer’s or stakeholder’s eyes. So yes, time consuming it is, but in the end, the outcome rewards all efforts!

Let’s take a quick look at how a strategic document could be structured (only general categories are reproduced here, in practice, many more can be added of course):

1. Current Situation/Background

2. Alignment to Global or Segment Strategy

4. General Objectives (qualitative/quantitative)

3. Specific Objectives

  • Long-term objectives (could be external or internal)
  • Short-term objectives (could be external or internal)

4. Target Markets and Audiences

5. Analysis of competition (how are they positioned, how do they communicate?); yes, this is very important for NGOs and Associations too!

6. Communication Plan (including the appropriate communication vehicles and key messages)

7. Evaluating Success

8. Tactical calendar

9. Budget

If you follow this simple guideline involving if possible your managers, peers and other important partners within your organisation in the thought process (this obviously includes summarizing and structuring what you have received from your colleagues or reaching out to them), you will have all the pre-requisites for a successful launch, thought process, road-map, introduction or campaign. Not only will you generate the buzz and buy-in you need internally to get things done, but your external appearance on the market and with your various audiences will be a true experience and hence a success.

Let me know if you need some input for streamlining your thoughts or creatively brainstorming on the way forward. Having led many initiatives (locally and internationally) and written many strategic documents and guidelines for various industries and organisations, I am sure that I will be able to help you too!

Have an excellent start in the new week, Jenny


Easy and powerful stress-reduction technique

Heart Meditation

To end the weekend, I want to share an excellent technique called “quick coherence” from with you that I am often using when working in a training or coaching setting. It is very useful when starting a session, in order to reduce anxiety, stress or frustration; of course it can also be used at home or in preparation of difficult conversations or meetings. It is said to create positive changes in your heart rhythms, sending powerful signals to the brain that can improve how you are feeling and thus how you are acting and behaving.

  • Step 1: Heart Focus.

Focus your attention on the area around your heart, the area in the center of your chest. If you prefer, the first couple of times you try it, place your hand over the center of your chest to help keep your attention in the heart area.

  • Step 2: Heart Breathing.

Breathe deeply but normally and feel as if your breath is coming in and going out through your heart area. Continue breathing with ease until you find a natural inner rhythm that feels good to you.

  • Step 3: Heart Feeling.

As you maintain your heart focus and heart breathing, activate a positive feeling. Recall a positive feeling, a time when you felt good inside, and try to re-experience the feeling. One of the easiest ways to generate a positive, heart-based feeling is to remember a special place you’ve been to or the love you feel for a close friend or family member or treasured pet. This is the most important step.


The Power of Words

WordsSpoken words are extremely powerful but many of us are not aware of this fact. Words are used to communicate but most of the time we don’t really pay attention to what we are saying and which words we choose to make our point.

As soon as we are becoming mindful of what and how we are saying things, we begin to take responsibility for our lives.

Words are not only coming out of our mouths but are also unspoken, being constructed within thoughts. If we begin to pay attention to what we are saying, we will quickly notice that many things are quite negative. We are using words like ‘should’ and ‘must’ as well as ‘but’ and many other expressions to gain control over situations that we don’t control or to justify why we did not do something or are not up to the level that others are expecting us to be.

Test it for yourself: record phone calls randomly for your own use and listen to them later. Are there any patterns that you see emerging? Anything in particular that you are noticing? It is really interesting to find out how we communicate as it reflects the way in which we think about ourselves or how we are structuring our thoughts.

Have you ever thought about how  you start your day? Are you complaining about the weather, the fact that your coffee is not ready and that you have a terrible headache?  Or are you welcoming the new day with a smile and a friendly thought? Usually, what you expect will come true and the more your thoughts and words will be negative/positive, the more your day will be negative/positive.

You could also pay close attention to how you are speaking about yourself. What kind or words are you using? How are you describing your life, your work, your relationships with other people? What belief systems have you accepted and what are you expecting? Usually, what you expect and portray will emanate from you and expectations very often become reality.

How can you start becoming more mindful about what is going on?

  1. The first thing really is to become more self-aware. Which words are you using and how are you thinking about yourself. Recordings (voice and or video) can tell you a lot about yourself; if you add video to it, it will give you valuable insights about your non-verbal communication.
  2. Eliminate negative words and thoughts from you daily vocabulary and replace them with positive affirmations. You could even write some of these on little flash cards and have them handy for whenever you need them so that after a while they become part of your vocabulary.
  3. Stop spreading negative stories; ignore them and spread only the positive ones instead.
  4. Voice your thoughts around what you are wishing for in life (in a positive way) and repeat these words to yourself.

Have an excellent weekend and thanks for reading! As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to me should you wish some advice or coaching.




Checking-in with yourself

RocksMany of us have been extremely busy during the last months and still are. While the days are slowly becoming longer and the sunlight warmer – at least here in the French speaking part of Switzerland – let me give you some ideas for your daily informal mindfulness practice (and even if you are not practicing every day, this will also be very helpful for you, I am sure).

  • First of all, please take a moment to settle in with yourself, take a deep breath and become aware of the air streaming in and out of your body. Try to feel your feet and how they feel on the ground, whether you are walking, standing or sitting. Move your toes and explore the sensations that you are having right now, in your feet. It might sound strange but it is actually an excellent exercise for grounding yourself and becoming more centred.
  • Secondly, become aware of the tensions in your body; how are your shoulders feeling? What about your neck and your back? Is there any particular sensation in one or the other part of your body? If so, try to stay with that sensation for a moment. Explore it in a non-judging way.
    • Is it possible to release the tension, intentionally?
    • Is it possible to breathe deeply into it?
    • Does the feeling change, soften or maybe even go away?

If you are at home, you could also observe yourself in the mirror, watching out for tensions that you are able to see in your face, your jaw in particular.

    • Are you clenching your teeth?
    • What happens when you smile at yourself, does the tension go away?
  • It would indeed be helpful, if you could try to ‘check-in’ with yourself every time you are encountering strong emotions (positive or negative).
    • What is happening in your body and where during these strong emotional moments?

Doing this on a regular basis will make you accustomed to your bodily reactions and will help you noticing what is happening even before your brain knows what’s going on. Try it for yourself, you will be surprised of what you’ll find out!

Have an excellent week,