One day it’s blue sky and the next it’s pouring with rain … typical British summer. So now is the time to book a holiday and my family are asking… where are we going this year?
We might also wonder …where is our business going this year? So how do we get that sharp strategic plan in place? I believe there are 3 Strategy Questions every leader should ask that will help. 1.How can our Strategy be more aligned to our core purpose and values?
What’s important to us this year for our holiday? To tick off a bucket list item? To connect with family and friends far away? To go low budget or high thrill? This time after a season when we’ve all worked hard, it is to rest and be refreshed. This sense of what’s important to us directed our focus.
A business strategy needs to be aligned with what matter to us, why our company exists, and what we are fundamentally trying to achieve. It is also about sensing the season. Should more resources be allocated to marketing or product development. Is this the time to target new markets? What about succession planning? … What is the season? Set aside some days offsite. My preference is for rural so people can walk and talk, can have space to think, time to imagine, to dream. It should not be over programmed, you can’t force a creative process. Clarity over a few key areas can be enough to give the strategic direction that everyone needs.
2.How can we engage more with our own talent in creating the Strategy? As regards our holiday, I could have simply decided the dates, location, hotel, board type and means of travel. I might be happy about driving 500 miles and self-catering in a caravan in rural France, others may prefer flying to a sun kissed beach. It was essential to listen, explore possibilities, and have some negotiation. It’s a mistake to assume that because you are the Board of Directors or the CEO or the Senior Management Team it’s your honour to decide the strategy. We might not think it matters but people at every level should be involved in the strategic plan. We will generate more creativity, ownership and ultimately more commitment towards the goals. The bigger the organisation the harder that is to manage however if we want to engage our people and have them implement the strategy effectively then they have to co-create it.
3.How can we be clearer on the needs and aspirations of our customers when formulating Strategy? Running with my holiday illustration I guess we could ask for some feedback in a few weeks time and check how re-energised we are or how much we are sharing with others about our holiday and promoting the location or hotel. Was two weeks in the summer good or would four long weekends be better? Or why not both!! So much Business Strategy is based on assumptions. We can wrongly assume the needs and aspirations or our customers /clients without even engaging with them. We need to genuinely get alongside them and ask for their feedback. To be willing to ask questions that might have challenging answers. Are we serving their needs? Are we delivering the quality they are seeking and at the right price? Are they looking for other products or services we might be able to supply? What more can we do to enable their success? Could we co-create something new for the market?
It’s about being more open, more genuine, more collaborative. The truth is if we don’t serve, adapt, and care enough our clients and customers will eventually go elsewhere. Yet when we engage with them meaningfully they become our best advocates.
So let me suggest when we address these 3 Strategy questions we are bound to travel far!
Oh and if you are wondering what we decided. 2 weeks hotel half board in Majorca near the beach.