4 Proven Ways to Combat Strategic Ambiguity

4 Proven Ways to Combat Strategic Ambiguity
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When Strategic Ambiguity Threatens
Even when you have worked hard to create a clear and compelling business strategy, things can get in the way.  Life is complicated and, in the business world, ever-changing.  Leaders change roles, technologies evolve, markets shift, and resources can get tapped out.

And when the strategy is unclear, a sort of dangerous lethargy can set in.

Unfortunately, strategic ambiguity causes companies to freeze resources, leaders to defer decisions, and employees to fall back on behaviors that may feel safe but are often contrary to achieving strategic priorities or living the desired culture.

While these actions are somewhat expected, teams can become unproductive and, in so doing, stall important strategy execution, innovation, and growth.

Four Ways to Combat Strategic Ambiguity
Don’t despair.  There are steps to take amid this confusion over the company’s direction — positive steps that will promote productivity and lessen stagnant and misaligned behaviors.

  1. Seek Expert Advice
    Recognize that you’re far from the first individual, team, or function to face strategic ambiguity. It’s a natural consequence of the constant change that is reality in business.  Look for lifelines from others who have conquered strategic malaise.

    Reach out to former colleagues and peers for advice and counsel, seek out solutions from thought leaders, and consider how your most respected leader might have handled the situation.  Draw on the expertise of others to help you stay confident and productive.

  2. Make Key Strategic Assumptions
    If you are unable to clarify your company’s strategy enough to move forward, you and your team should explicitly make key assumptions about the:

    target market
    unique value proposition
    — success metrics
    — competition
    — industry
    strategic priorities

    so that you can align your own strategy to those assumptions.  Do not wait for others to do it for you and get as much feedback as you can from key stakeholders along the way.

  3. Stay Steady
    Whenever you hit a rocky spot, it is natural to feel anxious. But dwelling on the uncertainty of the future will only exacerbate the situation.  It is up to you to stay steady and lead your team through the choppy waters to the calm ahead.

    First, try to make sense of what is happening through facts, not rumors.  Imagine the worst and then acknowledge that the worst is unlikely to happen.

    Deal with reality in a way that avoids stress and other nonproductive behaviors.  Your team is watching you; be the leader they need.

  4. Act and Communicate Progress
    Continue to deliver visible value to your key stakeholders within the strategic assumptions that you and your team identified. Behave in a manner that aligns with the company’s desired culture.

    Your actions should be a result of clear thinking around what is most likely to happen, so you work toward a positive future state even when the overall end goal may lack focus.

    Move forward, step by step, and let everyone know where you stand and how you think you fit in.

The Bottom Line
Strategic ambiguity can be distressing but it does not have to undermine your confidence or performance.  Reach out to experts who have faced and conquered strategic confusion, maintain a steady demeanor, and take well considered action.

To learn more about how to combat strategic ambiguity, download 7 Proven Ways to Stress Test Your Strategy Now

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