When constructing a business strategy beware of the cautionary tale of The Big Strawberry and the London Marathon.

I watched the London Marathon at the weekend and enjoyed the amazing runners with often moving stories and some extraordinary outfits. I spied an elephant as well as a runner with her head replacing the Mona Lisa in a huge gold framed picture.

Challenging enough to run 26 miles without such encumbrances!

These outfits reminded me of the Billy Connolly story about the Big Strawberry and the London Marathon. A runner, for goodness knows what reason, thought dressing up as a massive strawberry would be just the trick to raise charitable donations.

He scooped out two of the seeds at the front of his strawberry outfit as eye holes so that he could see where he was going. However, the holes were too small – he had no side vision. The result of this was that he kept running up side roads and lost his way from the main race.

Darkness fell and the Big Strawberry was still running but sadly round in circles. He slept in a doorway, his costume keeping him warm and rather well cushioned before setting off again determined to finish the race for his favourite charity.

He was very excited when he spied some marathon signs still in place and this kept him going. Sadly these took him back to Blackheath and the start of the race.

So what does a Big Strawberry have in common with business strategy? I believe there are 4 major steps involved in creating a strategy for the future:

  1. Envisioning
  2. Exploring
  3. Decision making
  4. Implementing

Of course a business strategy requires a vision and a way forward. However for a truly creative, innovative, game changer of a plan then we need to explore sideways and around us.

What are our competitors doing? How do other businesses grow and improve? What do our clients and customers have to say? Could we visit other leaders, read different books, explore more unusual options?

The results of this exploration step profoundly influences the next stages of decision making and implementation.

Moving forward in a straight line without exploration results in the same well-trodden path, back to where we started with no real movement to the finishing line of exponential growth.