General Policy and Cohort Action
In addition to diagnosis, we also need to look at the other two parts of the Kernel, the general policy, and cohort action. In addition to diagnosing a problem and having an insight into your strategy, it is also essential to have a coherent strategy — one that coordinates policies and actions.
Many companies go after several or many objectives rather than focusing and coordinating their policies against one objective. Your strategy gains strength when it’s focused and coordinated.
Also, once you understand the Kernel (diagnosis, general policy, and cohort action), it is much easier to create, describe, and evaluate a strategy.
The General Policy is for dealing with the challenge. You need an overall approach to deal with or overcome the obstacles identified in the diagnosis, and a set of cohort actions that are designed to carry out the general policy.
This guiding policy outlines the overall approach for overcoming the obstacles highlighted by the diagnosis. It is “guiding” because it channels action in specific directions without defining precisely what will be done. It also directs and constrains action without fully defining its content.
This policy is not a goal or a vision. What the general policy does is define a method of grappling with the situation and ruling out vast numbers of possible other actions. Remember Apple; their strategy was to break with the status quo (computers were for businesses) and empower individuals and their general policy was only to produce well designed and easy to use computers (you had to be a techie to use computers at that time).
This general policy gives you an advantage. It anticipates the actions and reactions of others; it reduces the complexity and ambiguity of what will be pursued, it exploits the leverage inherent in concentrating your efforts, and by creating policies and actions that are cohort rather than responses that cancel out each other.
The third part of the Kernel is coherent action. A strategy is about action. Actions have to have an impact, actions need to be coordinated, and they must build upon each other, and focus the company’s energy. The strategy will determine what actions should be taken.
A strategy is about deciding what is essential and focusing resources and actions on that objective; It can be challenging because focusing on one thing means leaving out others. Remember, you have to think narrow, and own that space first to become more prominent.