Over the last several years, many business owners have found their strategic plans to be disrupted and have lost their pathway to growth. Through reactively adapting to the “new normal” and changing many of the ways in which we run our businesses on a day-to-day basis, it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture.
Even in the best of times, developing the right strategy for your company can be a challenge, You have to worry about the now, while also planning for an uncertain future.
The Importance of Strategic Planning
Often strategic planning is turned into something much bigger than it is. To put it simply, strategic planning is about identifying what is working in your business, and what is not working.
Are you and your leadership team really clear about your strategy?
Carve time to periodically review and revise your strategic plan with your leadership team to achieve the desired results and remain focused in an ever evolving environment.
Embrace the ‘future – back’ way of strategic planning rather than the what I think is the redundant ‘present – forward’ method used by many.
Strategy Questions for Leadership Teams
STRATEGY – What is it that we are trying to achieve?
This is the number one question you should be clear about. Without knowing exactly what it is your are trying to achieve, you will have no direction. This is big picture thinking. This question also allows you to uncover any challenges you are facing – those issues that are stepping in the way of what it is you are trying to achieve.
Ask yourself this – can each person in your leadership team state your strategy simply in one or two sentences? Not only that, but are you living your strategy by taking clear actions towards it each day?
When you have answered this, is when you can move onto the next question – customers.
CUSTOMERS – Who are our best (core) customers?
Every company has limited resources (time & money) – knowing who your most valuable customers are will allow you to better understand where you should focus the attention.
When you are answering this, think about who is going to benefit from your product or service the most. Can you identify your target market clearly, or is your leadership team confused?
It’s also very important to think about who you don’t want to do business with. This can be a fast and effective way to narrow your target market. It will remove any confusion about who your market is, and how to successfully grow your business with the right customers.
This leads us to our next question – branding.
BRANDING – How can we improve our brand?
If your brand didn’t exist, would your customers face any challenges or even care? Identifying ways you can improve your product or service, even if it is selling well, is a way to stay relevant and keep ahead of your competition.
Remember not to get caught up in your features, and focus more on your benefits. A great way to think about ways to improve your brand is through reviewing customer surveys, google reviews and social media comments. If you are receiving the same feedback over and over again, it’s an easy way to know what your customers need, and the challenges they are facing.
Reviewing customer feedback also makes it easier for you to reflect on organizational priorities. Where should you be shifting your focus and resources to improve your products/service, and ultimately increase the bottom line? How can you enrich the brand experience for your customers? Michael Gerber taught me ‘it’s not what you sell, it’s what you do that makes the difference’ … be preferentially different – elevate your business above the competition..
Reviewing your brand often means you need to take a look at the next question – innovation.
INNOVATION – What do we need to change to achieve our goals, and how do we do that?
In one of my previous blogs ‘Inspire Innovative Thinking In Your Company’ the key point was to question everything. Create an environment of learning and experimenting to build innovation and creative ways to achieve your desired results.
Be careful not to start introducing more and more new features to your service or product. Often the most effective form of innovation is simplicity. Removing irrelevant features, and improving the core features. Understanding ‘the job to be done’ by your end customer will provide you with insights for this question.
It may feel counterintuitive, but these days people are bombarded with new and shiny features for everything they own. They will often appreciate and find great value out of you taking away the unnecessary, and improving the foundation.
On the opposite side, if your organisation is stagnant and needs an extreme re-invention, go big. Set a BHAG to let the leadership team know it’s time to encourage out-of-the-box thinking.
WHAT’S NEXT? – Execute and Measure
“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” — Peter Drucker
It’s easy for leadership teams to create a solid strategy. Without executing the strategy however, it becomes useless. Create systems and accountability for your strategy, and meet regularly to measure and assess.
If something is not working, try something else. And keep doing this until you find what does work. Keep your mind open, as often the best alternatives are simpler than the original.
TED BONEL, SCALING UP COACH – STRATEGY & EXECUTION ADVISORS
Need assistance to help your team achieve your objectives to grow your business? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free 30-minute discovery meeting.
ABOUT STRATEGY & EXECUTION
We have been providing organisations and their leaders with facilitation support and executive education focused on strategy development and strategy execution for more than 20 years. Using business models such as Scaling Up, Exponential Organizations, E-Myth Mastery, Outthinker etc, we support organisations seeking to create or refine excellent strategies and execute them quickly and effectively.
Our expertise is based on a mixture of wide business experience, effective tools as well as a great deal of consulting and executive education. Our approach to working with clients is as unique as our specialist focus. We always seek to challenge our clients’ thinking – but equally are unafraid to roll up our sleeves and help execute the ideas we help generate. Learn more about us or view our upcoming workshops and events.
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