How to Identify Strategic Priorities Designed to Win

How to Identify Strategic Priorities Designed to Win
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Identify Strategic Priorities
It’s one thing to draft a corporate strategy at a strategy retreat; it’s another to successfully and consistently execute your strategy across an organization.  And the more ambitious your goals, the more strategic clarity, focus, and perseverance you will need to get there.

While strategic priorities certainly change over time, top leaders ensure that they and their teams identify strategic priorities designed to win.  Based upon leadership simulation assessment data, that means:

  • Selecting strategic priorities that follow logically from gathered information.
  • Selecting strategic priorities that add significant value and create a competitive advantage.
  • Agreeing on a manageable set of top strategic priorities that matter most.

When you want to maximize the impact of achieving your strategy, the importance of prioritization cannot be overestimated to best accelerate decision making, allocate resources, and maximize trade-offs.  While it may seem counterintuitive that fewer strategic initiatives can create more value, the key is for leaders to identify and agree upon what really matters above all else in helping you get to where you want to go.  This allows everyone to set clear priorities, manage scarce resources, and have clear action plans.

First Things First — Use Strategic Drivers to Set the Context
Before you identify strategic priorities for the next 12-36 months, you need to have a solid the foundational context of five strategic drivers:

  • Vision
    We define a company’s vision as “What the organization hopes to become — the business you will be in tomorrow.” The best vision statements provide an inspiring, motivating, challenging, memorable, and unique picture of where the business is headed.
  • Mission
    A company’s mission articulates why the company’s work matters. The clearer you can be about the business you are in and your fundamental purpose, the easier it is to define a successful strategy that your key stakeholders — employees, owners and customers alike — can rally behind.
  • Values
    Corporate values define the fundamental beliefs of an organization and serve as the foundation for not only how you behave, but also who you hire, fire, promote, and reward.
  • Ideal Target Clients
    High growth companies are almost three times as likely to be highly specific and detailed about who they serve. Why?  Because ideal target customers who fit you best don’t just buy your stuff; they passionately buy and use what you have to offer.
  • Unique Value Proposition
    High growth companies are also three times more likely to have a differentiated value proposition.  Knowing what clearly sets you apart in the eyes of your target clients is the final piece of strategic context required to effectively set your strategic priorities.

Most Leaders Underestimate the Need for Strategic Context
Although many leaders believe that their strategic drivers are clear enough to begin to identify strategic priorities, our organizational alignment research found that employees believe that these strategic drivers are 50% less clear to them than to the executive team.

Without clear and agreed upon vision, mission, values, target clients, and unique value proposition definitions, managers and employees report that they are missing the guiding principles required to know what matters most — especially when things inevitably change.

Next, Define High Performance Success Metrics to Set the Bar
Once you have established your strategic drivers, it is time to define what high performance goals look like over the next 12-36 months.

We recommend selecting two or three leading or lagging metrics that carry fifty percent or more of the weight regarding what matters most.

For example, one client looking to enter a new market selected (1) new client acquisition and (2) new client satisfaction as their two main strategic success metrics.  While they had many things on their plate, they knew that these two metrics mattered most to achieve their vision.

Another client striving to scale selected (1) profitable growth rate and (2) client renewals as their overall strategic measures of high performance.  While they also needed to realign some teams and divest some products, they knew that growing their current client base profitably was the key to higher performance.

The Bottom Line
Getting these strategic drivers right is harder than it may seem.  We found that only 30% of companies have enough strategic clarity to effectively identify strategic priorities.  Once you have aligned the top team on the strategic drivers, you can then begin to actively involve your teams to identify priorities required to make it happen in a way that makes sense for your unique situation.

When the priorities become clear, it is time to act and hold people accountable for consistently living by the new priorities.

To see if you have the strategic clarity required to better set priorities, download 7 Proven Ways to Stress Test Your Strategic Priorities Now

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