This month’s theme is What is Your Strategy? Each week we will focus on a different part of your life where a strategy is needed. Today we ask, What is your Business strategy? Do you have one? Do you need an audit?
Nearly all the major initiatives undertaken by corporate executives today are called “strategic.” However, strategy is different from vision, mission, goals, priorities, and plans. Do you know what a business strategy is? I liked this quote found at Strategy+Business:
[Strategy] is the result of choices executives make, on where to play and how to win, to maximize long-term value.
Often when a company or an entrepreneur sits to draft the business strategy, too many variables come into play. Keep it simple! Leaders fail to appreciate the necessity of having a simple, clear, succinct strategy statement that everyone can internalize and use as a guiding light for making difficult choices. Another major problem we run into is when a leader is too attached to his/her original strategy to see that an audit is need to update the plans. If you are starting fresh or considering an audit to your current strategy, ask yourself these FOUR questions:
- Is your strategy focused?
- Can you summarize your company’s strategy in 35 words or less? If so, would your colleagues put it the same way?
- Is it realistic?
- Can you stick to it?
If you can’t answer these questions right away, your strategy probably needs some tweaking. It is our experience that very few executives can honestly answer these simple questions in the affirmative. And this is assuming that you have a strategy, because let’s be honest, many business executives don’t even have a strategy. Perhaps you need an audit. A strategy audit involves assessing the actual direction of a business and comparing that course to the direction required to succeed in a changing environment. Do you have a plan?
No plan is a plan for failure.
We say that a lot. Think about it, if you don’t have a plan for your company, how can you expect success? Strategy starts with focus, which means having relatively few priorities. The more priorities included, the less likely it is that you or your team is going to implement your plan. You should also be able to give a succinct elevator pitch of your strategy. A good rule is to keep it at 35 words or less. It is also very important that your employees and team members are able to give this same pitch. You should all be on the same page. When the overall strategic direction is clearly understood by everyone in your organization, the entire company benefits.
Your strategy must also be realistic. There are things you may wish you could accomplish but that are just not realistic, at least at the current time. A plan must be based in reality to be meaningful for an organization. For example, if your goal for a computer software company is to overtake Microsoft and dominate the software market, it is not realistic! At least not right now. Set up realistic goals and actions to complete those goals, and assess them regularly.
Strategy has to also be consistently applied over the long-term. It is better to consistently apply a mediocre strategy than a couple of poorly executed brilliant strategies. A beautiful strategy is only beautiful if it leads towards your goals. Fortune is in follow through, right?! An organization must develop a strategic plan that includes specific and measurable goals over the long-term. A comprehensive plan will recognize where the organization is today, and cover all the areas where action is needed to move successfully into the future.
If you are having trouble either creating a strategic plan or knowing if you need an audit, give us a call. We can help.
However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results. ~Winston Churchill