How to Plan Strategic Changes Carefully

Dominoes are set in a "train" to show how to Plan Strategic Changes

Plan Strategic Changes with Great Care
There are good reasons to plan strategic changes carefully.  Sometimes you need to adjust your strategy due to shifts in the marketplace.  Sometimes new and unanticipated regulations necessitate a change.  And sometimes a change in leadership requires a fresh look at the company’s direction.

But, whatever the reason, take care as you make these strategic changes.  Any strategic shift that is too drastic can jeopardize your success.

It May Be Tempting
New leaders are especially vulnerable to a gripping desire to wipe the slate clean and put their mark on the business.  They want (and are often expected) to make an immediate impact…to sweep out the old to make room for the new.  But this can be a big mistake.

As a new leader, resist the temptation to negate all that’s gone before.  There must be something that was working well and was meaningful to those whose trust and commitment you need to gain.  Remember, it’s your job as a leader to set the business and the people up for success.

Do the Analysis
Until you have a good sense of how the team interacts and thinks, you could be charging off in the wrong strategic direction or in a direction that is misaligned with the current team or workplace culture.  Get together with your new team as a group and also one on one.  Ask them to talk frankly about what is working and what is not.

Listen to their understanding of the current priorities and successful ways of getting work done.  Then look carefully at the plans that were made and the forecasts for the future.  Sift through for the facts and try to keep your ego out of the analysis.

You may have been hired to fix things but too dramatic a change in strategy is not always wise in the first 100 days.

Articulate Your Strategic Vision
Be clear with your team about the progress that has been made but also how you think they can do better.  Paint a clear and compelling picture of the vision for future success.  Ask for the team’s questions and actively invite their input.  The more they buy into the plan, the more dedicated they will be to accomplishing its ends.

Reassess the How
With everyone on board, work together to explore the systems, processes and work flows that may need tweaking in order to realize the business objectives.  Are there any roles or responsibilities that need to shift?  How will you measure progress?  What benchmarks need to be put in place?  How often will you need to check in as a team?

The Bottom Line
Use the progress that has already been made as leverage to further your own strategic priorities.  Don’t start from scratch.  You will be far more successful if you build on and appreciate past success.

To learn more about how to effectively plan strategic changes, download 3 Big Mistakes to Avoid When Cascading Your Corporate Strategy

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