3 Ways to Create More Strategic Urgency

A businessman is relaxing in an open field complacent and showing no Strategic Urgency

Do You Need to Create Strategic Urgency?
Our high performance research identified complacency as one of the top five strategy execution warning signs.  Often, the most vulnerable time for an organization is when you are at the top of your game.  If you are looking to take your performance to the next level, you should consider creating some strategic urgency.

Why Strategic Urgency Matters
Leaders today cannot afford to get caught flat-footed or miss important market windows of opportunity.  While unchecked or unauthentic strategic urgency can certainly be counterproductive, well-placed strategic urgency is a vital component to amplifying the importance of the desired strategic shifts.   Most change experts believe that 75% of the people affected by change need to believe in both the importance and the urgency of the desired changes.

Where Strategic Urgency Starts
Strategic urgency starts with the leadership team.  While 75% buy-in may be enough for the employees affected by change, we look for 100% commitment from the top.  Leadership alignment is critical to ensure executives consistently reinforce the new direction so their teams remain dedicated to move toward the “new way.”

Three Ways to Create More Strategic Urgency
Breaking through complacency requires an active and honest dialogue across the organization until people understand and believe in the desired strategic direction enough to commit to trying to make them happen.

1. Challenge Your Business Model
Get your leaders together to think through the consequences of various scenarios that may be unlikely to happen but could greatly impact your strategy for success. Conduct a thorough examination of “what if” and “then.”  Consider challenging how you define and execute against areas such as your assumptions regarding:

  • Target clients
  • Target markets
  • Value proposition
  • Competitive advantages
  • Rate of scale
  • Leadership team
  • Talent management
  • Cultural norms
  • Competitive threats
  • Market shifts
  • Level of focus
  • Level of conviction

2. Check in with Dissatisfied Customers
Because almost every company is in the customer-experience business, one of the best ways to heighten strategic urgency is to shine a light on unhappy customers.   Though you can learn about strengths from satisfied customers, lost and unhappy customers often provide early warning signs of bad assumptions or hard times to come.

Your customers have their finger on the pulse of how you are living up to your strategic brand promise.  Use unvarnished feedback from your lost and dissatisfied customers to create urgency for change.

3. Scan Outliers
Often, the biggest strategic disruptions happen on the fringes. For example:

  • LinkedIn, a social media platform, is disrupting learning and recruiting
  • Tesla, a car company, is disrupting battery storage
  • Google, an internet search company, is disrupting mobile phones
  • NetFlix, a DVD company, is disrupting media content and delivery
  • Uber, a ride-sharing company, is disrupting food delivery

Is it possible that the greatest challenge to your business is not from close competitors but from maverick companies looking to disrupt your business model?  It sure seems that Amazon is on a path to disrupt most industries by itself.

Can potential threats from outliers, nearby or connected industries help provide the strategic urgency you need to mobilize the troops?

The Bottom Line
If you want to stay competitive, you cannot afford complacency even in the midst of good times.  Smart leaders continuously test their strategy and underlying assumptions with a mindset toward making strategic adjustments to sustain success.  If you want to create strategic urgency, remember leaders and their teams must believe that the status quo is not as appealing as the desired new direction or plan.

To learn more about creating strategic urgency, download How Strategic Clarity Distinguishes High Performing Leaders

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“We turned to LSA to help us custom design and deliver a leadership and management development curriculum to help drive performance. They have done an excellent job diagnosing the business situation, designing an approach that fits our culture, and delivering a first class solution.”

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I’ve been associated with LSA for the last 8 years and have found them to be an extremely professional, well managed full service training organization. Since working with LSA, I’ve participated in a number of solutions ranging from Performance Management to Assertiveness Training – I’ve found that the quality of the resources is superior. They are well prepared and have definitely done a considerable amount of pre-work in order to customize our culture and business into the total learning experience – making it most beneficial for our employees.

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I’ve partnered with LSA Global at two companies now, and I consider them a valuable and trusted training and consulting resource. They recommended just the right solution to address our management development needs and have wonderful facilitators that match YuMe’s culture and style of our management team. I would highly recommend LSA Global to any company wanting to deliver quality learning solutions with a valuable learning and development partner.

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VNUS Medical has been very pleased with the effective management development programs that LSA Global has delivered for us over the last four years. The programs have been universally facilitated by experienced and best in class instructors. The knowledge gained by our management team has been put into practice very quickly. VNUS is very happy to be working in partnership with LSA because they consistently deliver excellent programs that receive exceptional feedback from our management team.

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LSA helped us design and deliver a blended learning solution for our leaders to help drive our growth plans in a way that aligned with our specific culture and values. LSA understood our business, had deep expertise in the content areas, tailored the programs to fit our specific needs, and delivered great results. They constantly strive to deliver business impact and align their solutions with our business initiates, culture, and performance management systems. I highly recommend them to anyone looking to take their leaders to the next level.”

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Harmonic has worked with LSA for over 8 years. We have found their partnership extremely beneficial. We recently implemented a Management Development Program that was designed and customized to support our company’s strategic initiative of hiring, building, and retaining key intellectual property and human talent. We worked closely with LSA to target and implement the right solutions with the greatest impact. I would recommend LSA to any company that’s looking for a trusted training and development partner.

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