Do Not Overthink Your Business Strategy

A businessman in silhouette climbs from "good enough" to "better" to "best"

Sometimes “good enough” is just the first step in your plan to progress through “better” to “best.”

When devising a business strategy for your company, there is a point at which you can over-design. When too much thinking and evaluating stalls decision-making or execution, you may miss your window of opportunity.

There is a whole school of thought that a “good enough” business strategy may be the one you should adopt…at least for the time being. Nothing is absolutely perfect. Our organizational alignment research found that strategies just need to be clear enough, believable enough and implementable enough to rally people behind them. This is good news. It saves leaders from analysis-paralysis, and gives teams the chance to adjust course as inevitable and unexpected changes occur. Here’s a personal example.

I have a friend who decided it was time to move. She and her husband spent long hours working out a plan. They knew what neighborhood would provide the schools their children needed and a reasonable commute for them both. They knew how much money they could spend. They knew what size house would be ideal for their growing family. They had a pretty good strategy for entering the housing market.
Early on, they were shown a house that met most of their specifications, but it would need some remodeling. It was just not the perfect house of their dreams. They hemmed and hawed over the decision long enough that it sold and there was not another suitable house on the market for two years.

They seriously regretted not buying the less-than-currently-perfect house. It would have been “good enough” and the remodeling would have made it “better” while the timing would have been “best” for them and their future wellbeing.

When it comes to putting together your business strategy, be careful you don’t overthink it. Sometimes it is better to begin implementation before each little cog in the wheel is fully in place. You know there will be adjustments needed no matter how well you plan. And it seems we are far better at planning than doing. Fortune Magazine’s recent study revealed that 82% of Fortune 500 CEOs feel their organization did an effective job of strategic planning but only 14% of those CEOs indicated that their organization did an effective job of implementing the strategy. And Harvard Business Publishing gives even less credit to implementation. They say that only 12% of companies successfully execute their strategy.

Yes, plan carefully and thoughtfully enough to get buy-in and a commitment for action. But do not get so caught up in the nitty gritty of strategic planning that you miss the right time to act. Recognize that perfection is really unattainable. Be clear in communicating the forward direction to your troops; make sure they support you and understand where the company is headed and why; then go for it.

The differentiator becomes strategic execution – not strategic planning.

Test if Your Strategy is Clear, Believable and Implementable Enough.

Download Leadership Whitepaper on Strategic Clarity.

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