Is Your Strategy Clear Enough? 7 Warning Signs to Avoid

Separate letters spelling "strategy" are pinned to a bulletin board

Is Your Strategy Clear Enough?
Probably not!

How can your organization succeed without a clear and meaningful direction? And yet 49% of executives recently surveyed by Booz & Company said their companies have no list of strategic priorities.

What Makes Strategies Unclear?
Many high-growth executive teams are moving too quickly to create and clearly articulate a solid corporate strategy.  Some say they don’t have the time; others think their strategy is already clear.  And others just want to tell the troops what to do without actively involving them in the strategy design or planning processes.

Employees Report Strategic Ambiguity
But when you ask employees, organizational ambiguity reigns.  Our organizational alignment research found that employees were 50 percent less clear about the organizational strategies than their bosses.

Strategic Ambiguity Decreases Performance
Unfortunately the lack of strategic clarity not only hampers short-term performance but also long-term organizational health.  Companies with clear strategies grow faster, are more profitable and report higher levels of employee engagement and customer satisfaction.

Strategic Clarity Accounts for 31% of the Difference Between High and Low Performing Organizations
Effective strategies provide crystal clear reasoning why the company does what it does and how specific actions should lead to superior performance. A rudderless company drifts with the wind.  It does not:

  • outperform its competition over time
  • provide the foundation to create a high performance culture
  • attract, engage, or retain top talent over time

The Attributes of Effective Strategic Goals
Based upon high performance research, we know that the overall goals must be simple, meaningful, and just possible.  In other words, it must be an achievable challenge worth fighting for. Then, the strategies to achieve those objectives must include a plan of action and be supported by a well-articulated rationale.  Otherwise, you run the risk of having aspirations without a winning game plan.

Good vs. Bad Strategies
A good strategy guides the undertakings of the organization, provides rationales for resource allocation, and sharpens decision-making at every level. A bad strategy creates ambiguity and opens the door to politics, bad choices, and lower performance.

Seven Warning Signs of Strategic Ambiguity
Here are seven warning signs of strategic ambiguity to help you answer – Is your strategy clear enough? If you observe any of the following in your organization, it is time to increase your strategic clarity:

1. Too Many Priorities
Fundamentally, strategy is about making choices and focusing on areas with the greatest leverage. If your strategy contains more than 5 major priorities, trim the list to stop your people from being stretched too thin and reduce the competition for limited resources with conflicting goals.

2. Shifting Priorities
Priorities that shift frequently based upon reactions to outside or emergent events typically lack a solid direction as guidance. Without a true North, it is easy to fall prey to the urgent instead of the important or the “shiny object” or the loudest voice. While priorities will evolve as you prototype and learn, it is not effective to constantly change the game.

3. Relationships Rule
When goals are vague, “who you know” can become more important than “what you do.” Ambiguity can play out in power plays, turf battles, and deceptions that hinder progress. Strategic clarity and performance accountability is a great panacea for an overly political culture.

4. Lack of Accountability
Uncertain strategies provide cover for under- and average performers to hide. Without clear direction, it is difficult to identify and take action against sub-standard performance.  When this occurs, “A” players look for better opportunities where their contributions will be more appreciated and better rewarded.

5. Lack of Collaboration
If your teams are not effectively and consistently working together, they are probably having trouble distinguishing between priorities and strategic imperatives. Unclear goals and roles are the root cause of most internal clashes.

6. People Consistently Ask for More Clarifying Information before They Act
Often lower-level employees just do not get it. Successful implementation requires employees to not only clearly understand the company’s business strategy but also how their work directly contributes to that strategy.

7. Leadership Problems
Many sound strategies fail because leaders fail to provide the direction and sponsorship required for success. Some may be afraid to speak honestly and openly about potential obstacles and concerns.  This can cause people to lose faith not only in the strategy, but in their leaders. To truly lead, executives must listen, guide and reinforce all the way to the finish line.

The Bottom Line
Is your strategy clear enough now?  Creating a strategy is the first step.  Executing it is another step.  To effectively move from creation to implementation, make sure that your strategy is clear, compelling and understood. You will know that you are headed in the right direction in terms of clarity when your strategy:

  • Can be conveyed and understood on one page
  • Guides your leadership team and their direct reports in making day-to-day operating decisions
  • Is clearly understood by all employees – especially how their work directly contributes to success
  • Does not get derailed or steamrolled in times of crisis
  • Is constructively and openly discussed, refined, measured, and evolved
  • Is being implemented consistently across the company
  • Is a source of motivation and focus for your employees

To learn more about creating strategic clarity in your organization or team, please download 3 Big Mistakes to Avoid When Cascading Your Corporate Strategy

 

Comments are closed.

I have worked with LSA Global at previous companies and welcomed the opportunity to bring them in to support my new organization. We worked closely with LSA to design a solution for our Client Partner Teams and Management Training on both coasts. LSA designed a customized solution for our business and organizational culture. LSA is a quality organization, one that I’d recommend to any company looking for a first class training and consulting partner that makes an impact.

Laurie Torres
Chief People Officer

LSA is an instrumental training outsourcing partner in helping us to build management capacity and strategically invest in our people. Their flexibility, depth, and breadth of expertise allows us to deliver top quality solutions that are directly tied to key business plans. Their ability to custom design, deliver, and evaluate our Management Curriculum has been excellent. They are true business partners and a pleasure to work with.

Margaret M. Mader
Vice President, Human Resources

Hyperion

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.”

Beth A. Taylor
Vice President of Human Resources

Thoratec

Hyperion has a commitment to lifelong learning. LSA helps us provide the right business sales training, management training programs, and leadership development programs at the right time to meet the needs of both individuals and departments. I especially appreciate their ability to listen to my needs and recommend the appropriate facilitators, solutions and content.

Sarah Parks
Senior Project Manager

Hyperion

Thank you to LSA Global for their partnership and support in helping us to design and roll-out our valuable management development training program. I personally have partnered with LSA Global at four of my previous companies. It continues to be a delight working with LSA. We look forward to partnering with them at Blackhawk Networks for future training and consulting needs.

Suzanne Kinner
VP Human Resources

Blackhawk Network

The refreshing thing about LSA is that they focus on understanding our business situation and helping me succeed instead of selling a product. With over 150 experts, they are an invaluable resource that helps me deliver higher quality results faster. I recommend them to anyone looking to improve the performance of their workforce.

Stacie Rodgers
VP of Human Resources

Cutera

LSA Global’s consultant brought a fresh perspective to our behavioral based interviewing strategy for two key executive positions we needed to fill, and their consultant helped us develop questions that produced a much deeper understanding of candidates’ capabilities. I am confident that the two new executives joining our organization have the right skills to add significant value. Throughout the process LSA was also very responsive in dealing with short lead time requests.

Because of the unique nature of our business, Excel is a core application in our accounting organization. After three attempts to find an Excel consultant who is capable of helping our finance team integrate advanced applications into our work processes we found LSA and Alex. He was not only a “Real” Excel expert but was masterful in helping us identify where to use Excel applications in our processes to increase our group’s efficiency.

SPO Partners & Co
Kim Silva, CFO

PalmSource has found our relationship with LSA extremely beneficial. We worked closely with LSA to customize the right Management Training Program solution to meet our unique business needs. LSA is a quality organization, one that I’d recommend to any company looking for a first class training and consulting partner.

Ken Boehm
Vice President of Human Resources

We recently contacted LSA Global to assist us with a unique training request. We gave LSA a very short deadline and LSA custom designed a training program to meet our exact requirements within the limited time allotted to them. We found their facilitator to be well versed in the subject matter and very credible; the design provided practical and valuable information to our team of managers. I highly recommend LSA Global, particularly in the area of management training.

Julaine K. Souza
Senior Vice President

Each program is preceded by an assessment of the participants. The course is then designed to fit the specific parameters and needs of the group. The highly interactive delivery is provided by recognized experts in their fields. On the spot coaching is provided during the program and each participant receives individual follow-up after the course. Courses can be delivered in-person or virtually. Given the nature of Cisco’s business and the way we operate, these remote workshops are a must for anyone who joins our company. Their work is eye opening. Great content and fantastic delivery.

Frank J. Kuypers
Business Development Manager

Understanding and conforming to legal compliance was very important to our company. We turned to LSA Global to provide a quality and cost effective way to ensure that we were AB 1825 compliant. Their interactive eLearning program was top-notch. It allowed our managers to learn at their own pace, and on their own time. The program was tailored to include our logo and our internal harassment policies. It was interactive and met all federal and state legal requirements. I would highly recommend LSA Global to any company looking for an efficient and effective and top quality way to train their managers to be in compliance.

Kelly Warren, SPHR
Director, HR & Compliance

We contacted LSA to help us with customized management development. LSA worked with me to identify a solution that would meet our exact needs. We decided to start at the top and ran the program for our executive team. It was such a great success that we hope to roll it out companywide. We look forward to a long-term partnership with LSA Global and their team of experts.

Barry L. Byrd, SPHR
Human Resources Manager

LSA’s customized Effective Presentation Skills program has helped me elevate my presentation skills to the next level. I now have a much greater self-awareness of my presentation skills and can leverage off of my strengths while working to improve upon other areas. I would definitely recommend this solution to anyone for whom business presentations are an integral part of their job.

Jim Elliott
Senior Marketing Manager

Samsung

We recently partnered with LSA Global to offer our Supervisors and Managers a customized two-day management training program. Everyone who attended said it was by far the best management training program they had ever attended. The content was rich and highly interactive. The case studies were relevant. Each participant walked away from the training much better equipped to lead their teams.

Jeff Coon
Director of Human Resources

LSA helped change our entire culture around meetings, making them more effective and efficient, thus enabling us to concentrate on driving more business.

Terry Wassman
VP of Human Resources

Evaluate your Performance

Toolkits

Toolkits

Download key published insights and tools from industry experts highlighting best practices in the areas of talent, strategy and culture.

More

Health Checks

Health Checks

Want to know how you stack up against leading organizations?  Receive a complimentary benchmarking analysis courtesy of an LSA Expert.

More

Whitepapers

Whitepapers

Get up to speed on timely solutions critical to your business. Published by LSA Experts based upon client feedback and key industry trends.

More

Methodology

Methodologies

First we identify the key metrics you want to improve. Then we assemble a dedicated team of elite experts who have successfully solved similar problems with similar clients.

More

Blogs

Stay up to do date with the latest information on how we help high growth companies align their culture and talent with strategy.

More

Case Studies

Client Case Studies

Real world consulting and training approaches from LSA projects, providing insights on how your company can outperform the competition.

More