How to Simplify Corporate Strategy

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How to simplify corporate strategy?  This is a questions we are getting asked by more and more leaders seeking to lift performance

Do you feel that your team is not fully executing your corporate strategy?  It’s no wonder. We are all convinced of the importance of a workable, realistic, clear, agreed-upon plan for moving forward…but we are generally bewildered about where to begin and how to create lasting buy-in and commitment.

Here is a simple strategy framework to help leaders learn how to simplify corporate strategy that can get you started and help you craft a working document that can clarify and guide your strategic actions into the future:

  1. Begin at the Beginning – Mission and Vision
    The first and foundational step in teaching leaders how to simplify corporate strategy is to articulate your business purpose. What is your corporate vision and mission? What outcomes matter most to your organization? Well written, your mission statement should outline your organization’s business…and fundamental purpose. Done right, it should provide a true north for all stakeholders. Your vision statement should illuminate what you hope to become if you successfully achieve your mission…the business you will be in tomorrow. Done right, it can provide inspiration for your workforce to achieve more.Here is Amazon’s vision statement as an example: “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
  2. Add your Corporate Values
    Too many companies spend too little time on this step. They are likely to be satisfied with universal and generic values that simply sound good and will fill the “Values Portion” on their company web site. Instead, we believe you should be honest with the way you want your employees to fundamentally think and behave. Try to avoid the generic in favor of the meaningful…the values that truly matter to your employees and yet enable the achievement of your strategy in a way that sets you apart. Remember that corporate values should give a common purpose to your team and provide behavioral boundaries to how that purpose should be achieved and how big and small decisions should be made.At LSA, for instance, one of our core values is “to strive to build something special together.” This translates into us acting as co-owners with a sense of pride in what we build, going above and beyond and succeeding and sacrificing together.
  3. Be Clear about What Sets You Apart
    Whether you call it a value proposition or a differentiation statement, leading companies are crystal clear about what sets them apart from the competition in the eyes of their target buyers. Done well, this creates a compelling brand promise that resonates with target clients in a way that you can proudly support and deliver upon.  Are you clear about what sets you apart from the pack?
  4. Next are Focus Areas
    These help break down and clarify how to get from where you are to where you want to be to achieve your mission and vision while living your corporate values. If your vision includes being absolutely committed to your customers, you may need to re-evaluate your interactions with customers, product quality, marketing messages, and how much repeat business comes through your sales teams. That gives you four potential areas to concentrate on.
  5. Now make it specific
    It doesn’t matter what you call the next stage of your strategic planning, it just matters that the objectives that fit under each focus area are specific, measurable and actionable. Each objective should have both a deadline and a clear outcome. Under your customer-centric focus area for example, you might list an objective like, raise the customer satisfaction rate from 75% to 90% by December 15th.  When it comes to objectives, less is more.  Keep your list to five or less.
  6. The final step is to list the actions that will achieve your objectives
    This is where the rubber meets the road. These action steps need to drive directly toward the objectives you have set. They allow for measurement and thus for accountability. Each action should have an owner and the assignment of ownership should be transparent throughout the company. Without accountability, you are likely to fall far short of your overall goal.

If you would like to learn more about how to simplify corporate strategy, download Is Your Strategy Clear Enough to Act?

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