The First Steps to Strategic Action

The First Steps to Strategic Action
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Chess and The First Steps to Strategic Action
Chess is a strategy game with only two opponents but with a variety of pieces that have their own way of moving. To win, you need to checkmate your opponent’s king by threatening an inescapable capture. That’s the goal and it’s always the same.

The available moves to make for each player are multiple and varied. Chess experts begin with an opening whereby, in their initial ten to twelve moves, they strategically position their pieces in a way that will set them up for success in the oncoming conflict. The opening represents a chess masters’ first steps to strategic action.

Many top players report spending years studying different chess openings to see how they can improve their game.

Organizational Strategy and The First Steps to Strategic Action
Just as with chess, the first moves after your strategy retreat are critical to set you and your team up for successful strategy execution. Unfortunately, leadership simulation assessment data tells us that too many leaders underestimate the importance of focusing on getting the first 90-days of strategy execution right. They are apt to be too focused on the end game and neglect the step-by-step thinking that is required to get strategic initiatives started off on the right foot.

Focus on The First Steps to Strategic Action
We know from our organizational alignment research that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing companies in terms of revenue growth, profitability, customer loyalty, leadership effectiveness, and employee engagement.  There’s no doubt that a coherent strategic plan is critical to success. We also know that the first 90 days, similar to the first 10 to 12 moves in chess, sets the stage for strategic success or failure.

Once key stakeholders thoroughly understand and buy into the overall strategy, work with those responsible for executing the strategy to break the plan into 90-day objectives that align with the agreed upon strategic priorities. Breaking it down into meaningful, visible, and more immediate tasks forces teams to get real about what can be achieved and allows leaders to test strategic hypotheses.

If initiatives stall, or if employees resist change, you need to stop, do a thorough analysis of the current situation, make the necessary adjustments, ensure that adequate support is garnered, and dedicate the right resources to get you where you want to go. Then treat your next opening moves just as carefully as you treated the first ones.

The Bottom Line
In your eagerness to launch a promising new strategy, don’t put the cart before the horse. First steps first. Break the plan into practical milestones that can be reached every three months and allocate sufficient resources to carry you forward toward success.

To learn more about if your first steps to strategic action are set up for success, download 3 Big Mistakes to Avoid When Cascading Your Corporate Strategy

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