3 Different Strategy Questions to Consider at Your Next Retreat

A business man is pondering various possible strategy options

The objective of most strategy retreats is to create a clear, believable and implementable strategic plan to take the company to the next level.  The deliverable typically consists of the critical few strategic actions that will make the biggest impact.

Strategic clarity is important.  Our organizational alignment research found that strategic clarity accounts for up to 31% of the difference between high and low performing organizations.  Strategic clarity however, is not as easy as it sounds.  Our research also found that while most agree that a winning strategy is of utmost importance, most also disagree about or misunderstand the specific next steps necessary to execute it at their own organization.

If you are in charge of developing a strategy for your team or company, invest enough time with the right stakeholders to ensure your team:

  • Clearly understands the business plan
  • Has no doubt that leadership is fully committed to the strategy
  • Is highly responsive to change
  • Is consistently implementing the plan across the organization

Here are three different strategic questions to consider at your next strategy retreat to shake things up a bit:

  1. What would someone from the outside do if they were in charge?
    We have always liked this question. Imagine that a new leader came in or that a company just acquired your organization.  What would they start, stop and continue doing based upon their new and fresh perspective?Because organizations often get so immersed in “the way things have always been done,” it can be difficult to consider new and innovative ways to answer big strategic questions or solve big strategic problems.  Try to break the established code of how “it’s always been done” so you can come up with more innovative solutions.   Challenge yourself to explain the rationale for current assumptions, beliefs and practices. Challenge past solutions and test new. Often you’ll find that the reason you set things up as you did has become obsolete or irrelevant.
  2. What part of the business does not fit?
    Examine all aspects of your partnerships, products and services. They should mesh in a way that serves the organization as a whole. Is there a piece of the puzzle that doesn’t quite fit your strategy or value proposition? Then reassess its importance to the other activities of the business. Maybe the company would work more effectively and efficiently without it.Then ask yourself, is there a critical component that is missing or being underutilized? A company and its strategic plan can only do so much at a high performance level.  A well-crafted strategy is ruthless in terms of focus, energy and investment.  Rationalize wherever you can.
  3. Is your strategy in alignment with your corporate culture?
    Strategy must go through culture to be implemented. Think of culture as the collective attitude, assumptions, purpose and behaviors of a company’s workforce. Your workplace culture answers the fundamental question of “how?”  It exists in every company whether by design or by default.  Your job as a leader is to ensure that your culture helps to move your strategy forward, not impede its progress.Organizational culture accounts for 40% of the difference between high and low performing organizations.  Smart leaders purposefully craft and nurture a culture that will align with and support their company’s unique organizational goals. Creating alignment between strategy and culture allows everyone to act with a more unified mindset.If, for instance, your strategy calls for a market leader approach to product development but your organizational culture is based upon only introducing new products and services after the market has shown they work, your culture will be working against your strategy.  The same could be said about risk tolerance.  If your culture takes pride in eliminating all risks prior to moving forward with decisions, but your strategy needs the organization to embrace taking chances, your culture and strategy will be at odds.

A well-crafted strategy provides a meaningful road map for the future and guides critical business decisions and resource allocation. Take the time to think it through from all angles. Sound planning will result in sound business.

To learn more, Download Should You Facilitate Your Own Strategy Retreat?

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