5 Steps to Pressure Test Strategy Against Risks

5 Steps to Pressure Test Strategy Against Risks
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Pressure Test Strategy
Does your leadership team need to pressure test strategy?  Many executive teams are great at setting big and exciting future goals for their organizations at annual strategy retreats. They look at where they want the organization to be and plan the steps and strategic priorities that will get them there.

Yet many of these same executives are unable to achieve their strategic goals because they become blindsided by unanticipated challenges — those storms and risks for which they didn’t provide a protective strategic umbrella.

Why Strategy Matters
Strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing organizations in terms of revenue, profits, customer loyalty, and employee engagement.  An important component of strategic clarity is insuring and preparing for potential future risks.  Our clients tell us proper strategic preparation takes a concerted effort from a cross-functional team assembled just for that purpose.

What If You Approached Strategic Planning More Scientifically?
Science experiments usually have three main steps: (1) Create a hypothesis about what is going to happen during the experiment, (2) Conduct the experiment, and (3) Reflect on the experiment (similar to a project postmortem) and learn from it.  Strategic planning should be no different.

5 Steps to Pressure Test Strategy Against Risks
Follow these five steps to pressure test strategy and look for the big leaks that could sink your strategic vision for success:

  1. Set Aside a Full Day to Challenge Your Hypothesis and Focus On What Could Go Wrong
    Invite representatives from different aspects of your strategic initiatives. Ideally, you want a diverse, multi-level, cross-functional group so the future can be examined from as many different perspectives as possible. Make sure participants understand the session is fully supported by leadership and will provide critical and valued input to strategic execution.
  2. Brainstorm Everything that Could Possibly Jeopardize Strategic Success
    No judgment here. Gather as many different ideas — realistic or not — on what could make the strategy fail from different stakeholder perspectives and within different micro and macro scenarios that are both within and outside of your control.  Try your best to strategically and culturally sabotage success from every different angle to see what you uncover.
  3. Evaluate the Risk List for Impact and Probability
    Some strategic and change risks are more likely to occur than others; and some risks have a greater impact. Sort the list by impact and probability so you know how to prioritize your next steps.
  4. Design Contingency Plans, Strategic Risk by Strategic Risk
    Focus first on those strategic risks with the highest probability and greatest potential impact to derail your strategy. What are the leading indicators?  How can you minimize those risks? What steps should you take now or be prepared to take if the risks arise?
  5. Share the Plans with Key Stakeholders
    What key stakeholders should be on the lookout for the risks you have identified? Who else should be warned of the risks so they can react as needed to thwart the risks as they occur?

The Bottom Line
Pressure test strategy using strategic scenario planning and problem solving techniques to help your leaders anticipate the future and protect your strategy with unbiased forward-thinking. The more clearly leaders peer around the corner and know what obstacles could occur, the better prepared they will be to execute your business strategy as the landscape inevitably shifts.

To learn more about strategic clarity and execution, download 3 Big Mistakes to Avoid When Cascading Your Corporate Strategy.

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