Strategic Focus Matters
Strategic focus can make or break a company when the stakes are high.
Settle or stretch…that may be the dilemma you face as you begin the critical strategic planning process. And your business results and the buy-in of your people will most likely depend upon the choice you make.
Could Your Strategic Planing Process Be Holding You Back?
Is your business strategy planning process similar to the way most organizations run theirs? If so, you probably dread the annual sessions which are often tedious, always difficult, and too often result in plans that never get fully implemented. Only one-third of executives we speak with report that their strategy sessions produce what they should: plans that are (1) clear, (2) implementable and (3) compelling.
Short-Term Performance vs. Long-Term Organizational Health
Our experience of over twenty years in helping our clients achieve strategies that are crystal clear has shown over and over again that it is not just short-term performance that suffers for lack of clarity but also long-term organizational health. In fact our organizational research found that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing companies. Reason enough to ensure that your strategy articulates why the company does what it does and how specific actions should lead to superior performance.
Then there is no leeway for the inevitable choices, priorities and trade-offs to become blurred for employees.
Strategic Focus Tips for a Better Strategy
Here are some tips on how to win at the business planning game as you keep your eye on the prize of overall, sustainable, healthy business growth by having a ruthless strategic focus:
1. Don’t be Shy
While you need to be somewhat realistic in your ambitions, step up to the challenge of stretch goals. Remember, you are looking to the future, not just maintaining the same old plan. If growth is the goal, be bold; don’t begin with your budget. Go for the big picture dream and then adapt your budget and business planning to accommodate.
2. Don’t Create the Strategic Plan in a Bubble
As leaders, you are responsible for a high-level strategy but make sure it is based on front-line input. Your customers and those employees who interact with them should help define the priorities of your winning strategy. Actively involve your key stakeholders in strategy design.
3. Don’t Wait for Year End
Changes in the market don’t follow the calendar. If you want to create a strategy that is implementable, you need to create a plan that can adapt to marketplace changes. Let business needs, not the time of year, dictate the timing of your strategy discussions. “One-and-done” thinking has no place in a high performance environment where decisions are based on up-to-date situations with a steady view of the future.
4. Don’t Be Constrained by Last Year’s Plan
Too many organizations simply increase resource allocations across the board. Instead you should put your money where it will have the greatest impact according to the current and future priorities, not the past. The strategy and resource allocation process need not be “fair.” Rather, it should be ruthlessly based on the priorities that you have set for the coming year and beyond.
5. Don’t Hold the Reins Too Tight
Empower your senior managers to make timely decisions according to the strategy that is well understood and accepted across the board. If you add too many bureaucratic layers to the decision making process, the focus on timely decisions that serve customers better can be lost.
The Bottom Line
Does your strategic planning process empower your entire company to define clear priorities, think boldly and drive forward with a ruthless focus toward high performance? If not, it is time for a change to your strategic planning process.
To learn more about creating strategic focus, please download 3 Big Mistakes to Avoid When Cascading Your Corporate Strategy
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