Do you have an effective strategy?

How’s your business doing?  Are you achieving all that you had hoped when you began the year?  Often, I run across businesses that are doing well and become satisfied with incremental improvements from year to year.  But, currently the high paced change and outright overhaul of industries due to technology, shifting consumer priorities and unpredictable regulation, it’s more critical than ever for business leaders to not just know how their business is performing today but to also have in mind a clear vision of where they are going.  Having a Vision that considers the pace and transformation in the market and can then be clearly deduced into an actionable annual plan is a marker of a business that will survive and thrive through the next decade of change.

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Current State

This is the easy part.  Where are you now?  Where are you succeeding and where is it that you think you are currently underperforming?  It’s critical at this juncture to find and build metrics around your business is you don’t already have them.  Metrics will become the mileposts with which you can gauge the relative success of your business strategy and transformation.  The best metric sets include key indicators of customer, product and financial success.  You may also choose to include market indicators so you understand whether you are pacing with, ahead or behind the market.

Vision

What do you want your organization to be?  For just a moment, take the constraints away from your thinking.  Forget about the challenges of today and look forward to what will need to exist in the future for your organization to be successful.

With your leadership team and looking out 5-10 years, ask and answer these questions (in detail):

     Where’s the market?

     What will clients expect from us?

     What capabilities do the successful organizations have in that future state?

It’s important at this stage to test your thinking against other industries.  Asking thought starters like ‘Where are Apple, Facebook and Amazon headed?’ might seem irrelevant at the start but, digging in may highlight macro trends that will hit your business as well.

Future State

Back to your metrics but, this time, what would they be if you achieved everything in your vision.  The crazier the metric the better because it means you’ve looked beyond incremental improvement which in this decade isn’t good enough to keep your company alive.  How many folks remember the headlines about Blockbuster working to close stores to “improve their finances” only to be steam-rolled by the digital streaming revolution?

Execution

Execution is where it all comes together…or at least, we hope.  A grand vision is nothing without concrete, consistent action.

With your leadership team, ask and answer the following questions:

     How will we close the gap? In other words, what actions are required to move to our

Future State Vision?

The output here should be rich with detail and seem like a mountain of work.

     Which actions will make the largest difference?

     What can we do now?

     What will require more time to plan and execute?

What you can do now will become your one year plan and those items requiring more time will become your 5-year plan.  You now have a big to-do list which is a great place to start.  Where I see many businesses fail is the next step.  They fall short on truly allocating the resources to implement and become lax on the tracking and follow through.  Assigning project leads and executive sponsors is a critical step to ensuring resources are assigned to meet the goal.  Metrics around project budget, timeline and stakeholder feedback complete the picture and allow you to monitor the health of your strategic plan throughout execution.

While this is super high level, I wanted to provide some insight on how, for your business, you can dive into strategic planning and set your team up for success through strong follow through.  If you or your organization would like assistance in building your strategic plan, facilitating the leadership planning discussion, mining the metrics for the business or just want to see if you are on the right track, reach out to me at steve@stevebazemore.com.