8 Strategy Questions to Minimize Confusion and Inaction

8 Strategy Questions to Minimize Confusion and Inaction
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Not All Leaders Know the Strategy Questions to Minimize Confusion
It is important to ask the right strategy questions to minimize confusion because a clear, believable and implementable business strategy is the bedrock of a high performing organization.  Our organizational alignment research found that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing organizations.

An Unclear Strategy is Bad
Without a clear and meaningful strategic direction, your employees lack direction, are confused about where they are headed and why, and spend far too much time in unproductive or misguided efforts.

A Clear Strategy is Good
The best leaders begin by creating a business strategy that outlines clear and compelling choices about what actions to take and where to “play.” The goal is to create a strategy that is:

  • Understood
  • Agreed to
  • Perceived to be up to the challenge by all key stakeholders
  • Supported by sufficient resources to truly succeed

Creating strategic clarity and commitment is neither simple nor easy.

The First Three Strategy Questions
Here are the first three strategy questions to minimize confusion:

  1. What Are the Critical Few Business Goals of Your Organization?
    Make sure you are ruthlessly specific. Just wanting “to be the best in the industry” is too generic and not very inspiring. A statement like “to be the market share leader for outdoor camping equipment in Northern California by the end of the year” is far more compelling and uses language that is results-oriented.
  2. What Are the Specific Desired Outcomes of Your Strategy?
    To get where you want to go, you need to plan and execute specific actions that will get you there. Create a concrete road map outlining the (1) Purpose, (2) Picture of success, (3) Plan to get there, and (4) Part each stakeholder will play.

    And agree upon how you will prioritize resources. Perhaps you need to invest in a marketing campaign, or a broader product portfolio, or an online sales fulfillment process. Whatever path you choose, it should measurably impact your overarching goal.

  3. How Will You Know You’re On the Right Track?
    You need to track your progress and make smart adjustments along the way. You may want to monitor the success of your marketing campaign in terms of the number of new customers generated or evaluate the success of your new products by how much revenue they are producing.  Or determine the desirability of online sales by a survey on how your target customers prefer to shop – in a bricks-and-mortar store or online.

    Whatever the case, everyone should know where you stand vis-a-vis your targets on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly cadence.

The Final Five Strategy Questions
Once you have designed and cascaded your strategy, test the effectiveness of your strategic plan by asking the following five strategy questions to minimize confusion:

  1. Do Employees Regularly Ask For More Clarifying Information Before They Act?
    Ambiguity is a sure sign that your strategy is not clear enough or believable enough to those required to execute it.  If you want to empower others to act decisively, make sure that priorities and decision making processes are crystal clear.
  2. Do Key Stakeholders Continue To Disagree On Major Priorities, Resources, Funding, or Timing?
    When strategies are clear, prioritization, funding, urgency, and resource allocation should be fairly straightforward.  If your teams are struggling to make tough decisions, it is probably time to double-check strategic priorities, assumptions, and buy-in.
  3. Do Employees Doubt the Strategy Is Equal To the Challenge?
    A strategy is only as good as the goals it is trying to achieve.  Just like running 5 miles a day will not prepare you to climb Mount Everest, waiting 12-months to acquire a target company will not help you meet your growth goals this fiscal year.

    Is your strategy up to the challenge of your goals?  Is something missing?

  4. Is the Strategy Being Executed Inconsistently Throughout the Organization?
    Mots strategies require a coordinated effort across multiple functions, levels, and geographies.  Inconsistencies are a sure sign of a strategy execution breakdown.  Are people collaborating enough at the right levels?
  5. Do Employees Lack the Right Mindset To Effectively Execute the Plan?
    It is a leader’s job to plan for and predict the future.  It is also the job of a leader to set their teams up for success – to be able to move faster and get more done in the constant world of change. Are your employees mentally and emotionally on board with the plan?

The Bottom Line
If you answer “yes” to any of these last 5 questions, you have some more strategic clarity work to do before you can effectively cascade and implement your strategy.  Do not make the mistake of moving toward action until your strategy is clear enough, believable enough and implementable enough to succeed in today’s world of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity).

To learn more about creating “just enough” strategic clarity to move into action, download 7 Ways to Stress Test Your Strategy 

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