Strategy Framework – Where to Play, How to Win, Most Important Goal

Strategy Framework – Where to Play, How to Win, Most Important Goal

By: Jim Gitney   |     March 27, 2022

How many different strategic frameworks are there? Probably as many as there are consultants. Most are difficult to explain to leadership, and they are impossible to explain to everyone else. While the development of a business strategy can be complex, the focus of the Group50® Where to Play and How to Win strategic planning framework provides a solution to this problem by keeping it simple:

  1. Most Important Goal (MIG) defines one measure of success for all stakeholders.
  2. Where to Play tells all stakeholders the markets and customers the focus of the company’s strategic plan.
  3. How to Win is the company’s playbook for getting it done.

Every stakeholder: Owners, board members, employees, customers, contractors and suppliers understand these three concepts.

The Group50® Consulting Strategy framework (shown below) outlines the entire strategy on one page and our OSMG (Objectives, strategies, measurements, and goals) approach provides the metrics on which success will be measured and the opportunity for every stakeholder to understand how they tactically and quantitatively contribute to strategic success.

We won’t spend time on Mission, Vision, or Values in this article because companies have been using these as a cultural foundation for a long time, but successful strategic execution requires a few more critical elements to strengthen the foundation.  The following are unique concepts in Group50’s Where to Play and How to Win strategy framework.

  1. Leadership Traits – As explained in my recent book: Strategy Realized – The Business Hierarchy of Needs®, actionable leadership traits are a critical foundational part of a company’s culture and need to represent the leadership traits required to move the company from its current state to its future state.
  2. Rallying Cry: The rallying cry may not sound unique to some, but it becomes an important soundbite in the change management process, and it provides a wonderful way to use it as a communication tool and a reminder to all stakeholders of the company’s strategic plan and its objectives.
  3. Value Proposition: A company’s value proposition isn’t often discussed outside of the marketing and sales organization. It is important, because it must articulate the essence of the company’s ability to differentiate itself in the marketplace. It provides the “Why” customers buy the company’s products and services.
  4. The Most Important Goal – MIG: The Most Important Goal defines what the strategic plan needs to accomplish. What gets measured get managed and, in this case, the Most Important Goal defines how to measure strategic success.  We believe that when a company is focused on only one metric, it can easily define all other metrics. Examples of a Most Important Goal that will require uniquely different strategic plans include:
    1. Increase Enterprise Value 250%
    2. Quadruple sales.
    3. Double cash flow
  5. Key Business Levers: Every company has unique business levers, also known as power alleys in their business that they can take advantage of to continue their success. Some examples of these are a strong balance sheet, unique unchallengeable IP, commanding market share, advanced OMNI channel technologies, proprietary manufacturing capabilities or other things they do that creates competitive advantage in the marketplace.
  6. Financial goals: This may seem obvious, but it isn’t, and it isn’t easy to create a financial horizon that defines the elements of the company’s Most Important Goal. In some companies, developing these are as difficult as creating strategies and tactics!

These foundational elements are the core building block for effectively creating and implementing business strategy. They provide the litmus test for the justification of all strategies and tactics. All stakeholders can use these to help justify the projects they want to recommend, or the process improvements that need to be made in the company. Every senior leadership team we support struggles with developing these and it opens their eyes on why they are necessary to properly develop a cohesive strategy and to communicate the company’s strategic plan to its stakeholders.

We often find that once completed, leaders have a different perspective of Where to Play. They view their served markets through a new lens, because they now must validate that these markets are robust enough to support the company’s Most Important Goal and the financials that support it.  Where to Play is designed to clearly define the customers the company is focused on and the channels of distribution they are going to use to provide products and services to those customers. Defining customers and channels of distribution, a strategic activity itself, completes the foundation for the last step of completing the strategy framework.

How to Win is made up of strategies and tactics that are actionable by every part of the organization. Before leadership can get there, they must understand the company’s strategic gaps and operating gaps through a series of analytical efforts as outlined in Group50’s Strategic Planning playbook. Once these activities are done, leadership can then get to the process of defining the strategies and tactics that deal with their current state operating gaps and implement the building blocks that move the company toward the future state which is defined by its Most Important Goal and Where to Play. 

The Most Important Goal, Where to Play and How to Win, are easily understood concepts, but getting there requires a lot of effort over many weeks and should involve multiple levels of the organization. Once the strategy framework is completed, change management is the next challenge and the one challenge that sinks strategic plans in many companies. Group50® has developed a change management framework we call the Business Hierarchy of Needs®. Its purpose is to provide the team that is creating strategy an overview of the things that need to be considered to successfully implement it. 

It is important the strategy team has this process properly thought through and have objectives that are clearly defined and cascaded throughout the organization.  It is important that every stakeholder understand their role in implementing the company’s business strategy, are aligned to it and agree to be accountable to the role they are going to play in strategic success. 

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The one page view of a company’s strategic plan is simple enough to share with every stakeholder and they can easily see what the objectives of the company are and understand the bigger picture their efforts will help support. In one company we are working with, they are showing this one pager to potential employees and the response has been positive because the candidates see what they are going to become part of, and they believe it demonstrates the company has its act together. Employees want to know the bigger picture and are more engaged when they understand it and have the opportunity to participate in achieving it. Companies with highly engaged employees realize significantly better performance than their competitors as shown in the following graphic from the GALLUP Organization which was compiled for the book: Strategy Realized – The Business Hierarchy of Needs®

Fewer Negative Outcomes

The holy grail for a leadership team is when any stakeholder they talk to can tell them what the company’s Most Important Goal is and what their role is in helping the company achieve it. We call that strategic maturity. If you are wondering why this strategy framework is so effective, perhaps you want to consider where your company is on Group50’s strategic maturity chart.

strategic maturity strategic execution

If you need help in realizing your “holy grail”, that is where Group50® can help. We have led many leadership teams in companies large and small through this process. We know how all the pieces fit together and where the difficulties will arise. We have built the appropriate supporting frameworks and methodologies for designing and achieving strategic success. Without support, a lot of time can be wasted or worse yet, a poor strategic plan is developed, isn’t rolled out properly and the company becomes a victim of Anti-Strategy and decline.

If you want to have a robust strategic plan and a well thought through process for executing it, pick up a copy of Strategy Realized – The Business Hierarchy of Needs®, call a Group50® strategic planning expert at (909) 949-9083, drop us a line at or request more information here.


About the Author:  Jim Gitney is the CEO and Founder of Group50® Consulting, and the author of “Strategy Realized – The Business Hierarchy of Needs®” which summarizes a framework for developing and implementing strategy (You can find out more about the book and acquire a copy by clicking on the image to the right). Founded in 2004, Group50®consulting is focused on working with middle market companies to significantly improve their productivity by leveraging peopleprocess and technology as part of a company’s strategic plan. Business process improvement and process reengineering are Group50® specialties. Group50® consists of consultants who have spent their careers in corporate America learning how to optimize businesses.  We specialize in working with senior leaders to develop and implement programs that leverage people, process and technology to optimize business performance.


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This entry was posted in Anti-Strategy, Business Hierarchy of Needs®, Strategic Execution 5.0 ™, Strategic Planning 5.0, Strategy 5.0, on March 27, 2022

One Comment

  • Charles M. Intrieri Consulting March 27, 2022 at 3:26 pm

    Dear Mr. Gitney:

    Change Management can be very difficult in companies. Change can be hard, but it is a necessity to follow the hierarchy of needs. Cultural transformation is very difficult, but it must be implemented if the company wants to change course. If they want to be a Lean company cultural transformation is a must before using Lean tools, Thank you.

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