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Ambition Versus Dream: Have a Plan

You know that famous quote from Sun Tzu, "Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat."? Well, it is not much different in business.

A company strategy sets the purpose, direction, and objectives of how you plan to succeed. Without it, it's difficult to build up the momentum needed to scale a business. You can get far, but not having it is typically one of the reasons startups and corporate ventures fail.

When I joined MOYU, it was clear that Roel had a deep-rooted sense of purpose to transform the paper industry from being one of the largest industrial polluters contributing to deforestation into a circular one that helps reforest the planet. However, he struggled to translate this purpose into an equally clear strategy and plan he could easily communicate with the team.

For three years, the team felt they knew what they were working towards. The lack of a strategy document created a situation that the team proudly described as happy chaos. They got energy from working on many loose actions that successfully got erasable stone paper notebooks into the Dutch market. But as a startup, that approach to business will only get you so far. 

When the moment comes to grow the company, the team starts to feel the pains of scaling a business. When that happens, you face a choice: adapt or slowly start treading through the infamous Valley of Death.

MOYU was no exception. In the first three years of business, the team doubled the revenue year after until they reached 1.5M. At that point, the focus naturally shifted to expanding the product portfolio and entering new markets. After six months of trying, Roel realized that the efforts were bound to fail without looking at the bigger picture and creating a structure to guide the team through the growth phase. So that is what we did.

MOYU Strategy Deck

In January, we took a step back to work on what has now become a 47-page slide deck that covers our business challenge, strategy, and execution plan. Now, I'm sure you are afraid it's one of those decks bound to end up collecting digital dust in a folder. But the value of the deck is in the conversations it triggered and the decisions made as we worked on it. 

You know that quote from Mark Twain, “Sorry, I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”? Ultimately, the strategy should be short and powerful, but it’s hard to get it there without the long version in between.  

Looking at the big picture and going through the elements of the business strategy helped us identify our blind spots and decide on strategic priorities. It took us a good month to create, and it continues to be a work in progress as we try new things. But the whole team feels it was well worth the time and effort. This master strategy document makes it easier to create presentations for onboarding new colleagues, connecting with partners, or pitching to potential investors.

If I attempt to walk you through the 6 chapters of MOYU strategy in detail, we’d be here for a while. Instead, I compressed the whole deck into a 1.5-minute video to give you a sense of what’s inside. Keep in mind that it’s a work in progress and if you are reading this a month from the publication date, it’s likely changed already. 

Since I started coaching team design (already seven years - time flies!), I often get asked to include more real-life examples of challenges teams face. And that's the idea behind this journal blog: to give you a peek at what usually happens behind closed doors. But the goal of this entry is to simply share the elements we choose to include in the MOYU strategy deck. 

In the following entries, I’ll talk about the ups and downs as we execute and experiment with new tactics.  

If the video is going too fast, take a look below for a summary of what I recommend you include in your deck.

Business Challenge

Clarify the business challenge and map out the game plan to achieve the long-term goals by breaking them down into 4 elements:

  1. Story: what is the problem we are trying to solve
  2. Challenge: what we are doing to solve it
  3. Roadmap: eagle-eye view of the strategic milestones
  4. Mind Map: hawk-eye view of the business strategy

Products & Impact

Show how you position your products on the market and how you’re different than what already exists.

  1. Products: strengths, weaknesses, and ways to differentiate
  2. Positioning: how we compare to market alternatives
  3. Forces: external elements that influence products
  4. Innovation: pipeline of new product ideas
  5. Impact: positive effect on the world

Sales Strategy

Create an overview of the markets you are active in and how you plan to compete. 

  1. Market: breakdown of area, size, and expansion plans
  2. Channels: where customers buy the products and the performance
  3. Competitors: product and pricing comparison

Marketing Strategy

This is where you describe your brand, customers, and how you plan to generate awareness. These slides can go into more or less depth depending on the volume of marketing activities. In general, they should clarify three topics:

  1. Personality: what is the communication style
  2. Proposition: what is the promise to customers
  3. Promotion: approach to generate awareness


This is where you show how you operate and improve performance. The slides are a bit more complex than others, but they give an overview of the way you work.

  1. Team: departments, responsibilities, and roles
  2. Supply chain: how we produce products
  3. Tech stack: how we optimize workflows
  4. Governance: how we communicate and make decisions 
  5. Performance: numbers throughout the years

Year Plan

And last but not least, the year objectives, milestones, and team scorecards for 2024. 

  1. Objectives: top priorities for the coming year
  2. Milestones: quarter planning for 2024
  3. Scorecards: how we track progress and performance

You'll notice that some MOYU slides are text-rich and heavy on visuals. I’m the type who is more than happy with a bullet-point summary of the strategy. But after working with many teams over the years, I’ve found that taking the extra effort to write the short narrative and make it visual goes a long way when taking team members and potential investors by the hand as you explain your story.

And if all this feels overwhelming, I recommend starting with one slide: Strategy Mind Map. The iconic visual that explains what you aspire to achieve and how you plan to go about it.

I know it was a bit of a long read, but if you made it through, I hope it gives you some ideas on what changes you could implement on your way to building a high-performing team. If you find the MOYU strategy deck helpful, share this blog post with others you think might also find it useful.

About the Author

Ángel Figueroa

Aerospace Engineer turned Entrepreneur, I mix sports & game smarts to design high-performing innovation teams.

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