To get your organization to make the journey from wanting to talking to doing, it\u2019s useful to think about how you well you have defined the strategy for getting it done.\nStrategy defines what you will DO\nOften, organizations mistake a strategy for a description of end outcomes. They will say \u201cOur strategy is to improve our user experience, or to solve the performance problems.\u201d\nAlthough those statements sound like actions (because there is a verb in them) they are really descriptions of intentions, not strategy. They describe outcomes that would result from specific actions.\nYou can\u2019t simply tell your organization, \u201cGo forth and improve user experience.\u201d\u00a0There are a gazillion different things you could do to improve user experience. If you do the right ones, the user-experience will improve -- that\u2019s an outcome.\nLikewise, there are a gazillion different things you could do to increase system performance. And if you do the right ones, the system will go faster -- that\u2019s an outcome.\nAn organization won\u2019t suddenly self-optimize and reorganize what it\u2019s doing to execute on a newly defined outcome without some more concrete direction.\u00a0Lack of concrete definition of strategy is one of the biggest hazards of navigating successfully through any strategic initiative. Every project, program, or strategy has a beginning -- a kick-off, and it has desired outcomes defined at the end.\nBut what is also common to every project, program or strategy is that it also has a Middle. And while great investment and intention is often applied to the beginning and to the end, the Middle (where literally everything needs to happen) is often left largely undefined. And organizations just embark\u2026 and hope for the outcome.\n\u2026So your important intentions remain outcomes that you keep talking about, instead of actions that you complete.\nWhat do I type now?\nA good strategy must chart a course through the Middle. It must define what you will DO in a concrete enough manner that people will know what to, well\u2026DO -- \u00a0throughout the entire Middle.\nI learned this lesson when I was managing a large group of software developers. I announced our new strategy to them, which was something very much like: improve user experience and performance.\nI was very pleased with this because this simple statement was a result of paring down hundreds of demands and feature requests to what would be most critical to the business. It was not a trivial decision to prioritize this \u201cstrategy\u201d over other ideas.\nBut at the end of the meeting where I announced this to my team, one of the most senior engineers in the group said, \u201cThat sounds like a good strategy, Patty, but now\u2026 what do I type?\u201d\nAh\u2026.yes\u2026Software engineers type. They think brilliantly, and\u00a0then they type. And I had not given my team enough information about what they should do differently. I had given them outcomes, not a strategy.\u00a0So the engineers had no idea what they should do next. What should they stop typing? And what new things they should start typing?\nDefining strategy\nSo we went back to the drawing board and further clarified the strategy into more concrete (DO-able) elements.\n1. We will hire front-end, help desk people trained in customer service (As it turns out, no new typing required for this one.)\n2. We will modify the user interface of our service to contain the specific language of our users. (Engineers thus, had to learn the language and issues of our users and change the user interface. Indeed, new learning and typing would be required here.)\n3. To increase performance, we would swap out our underlying database technology instead of making improvement to the existing one. (Engineers would stop their typing to fix the old database, find a new database, and start typing to test and integrate the new one.)\n4. We would train our sales engineers to work with the customers to modify their system use to avoid the biggest performance issue. (No typing for the engineers).\nThose four points became an actual strategy because they stated what we needed to DO. And if we did those four things we would get the two outcomes of "improved user experience"\u00a0and "increased performance" that I had initially and mistakenly described as \u201cthe Strategy.\u201d\nBeware of nodding heads\nNodding heads on a vaguely-defined outcome does not result in forward movement because the target is not concrete enough to lead to specific action. It\u2019s not that people actively disagree or don\u2019t want to support it, it\u2019s simply that they don\u2019t know what they are supposed to do differently.\nLook at your strategy. If you never clearly define your strategy as what you intend to DO, everyone nods their head about the agreed intention and then just goes back to work.