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A strategy spine is a document that executives should use to clarify their strategy. If they were an independent reporter, they would start by imagining their company being five years away from success. What would the outcome be? What choices did it take to make it happen? The six elements of their strategy spine are planned sources of revenue, key operating assumptions, key goals, revenue implications of those goals and assumptions, investments needed, and additional infrastructure needs. The strategy spine should be seen as a living document that can be changed as conditions change.

The idea of strategy is a surprisingly slippery one. In practice, leaders have trouble defining and communicating their strategies. Can you say what your strategy is? Most executives cannot articulate their objectives, scope, and advantage in a simple statement. Neither can anyone else if they can't.