For change to succeed, it’s important to articulate a clear strategy. At a basic level, the business strategy enables a universal understanding of where the organisation is aiming to get to and the top line on how this might be achieved. If this is in place, it can act as a sense check when decisions are made and will also provide a steer when things don’t go according to plan. No strategy should be so rigid so as to inhibit adaptation and growth, yet many of our research interviewees felt that their strategy documents were so long, complex and ambiguous, it was difficult to ‘see the wood for the trees’. This is not good when today’s employee demands clear and meaningful purpose.
It used to be that ‘the board’ (or parts of it) would disappear behind closed doors and emerge with a ‘done and dusted’ strategy document. However, this has to move over in favour of a more consultative and collaborative approach – dialogue and engagement from the start are key. As with most successful journeys, it’s important to start with the end in mind and this will require some thorough preparation in terms of fact-finding and information gathering. You could split this into five key areas:
- Target market / customer
- Product / service offer
Be prepared to do a thorough job when it comes to becoming armed with all you need to know to prepare a strategy that is both authentic and deliverable. Some organisations become obsessed with benchmarking against their competitors. We’ve always taken the approach that we don’t care what our competitors are up to – to stay ahead of the curve it’s important to be genuine, creative and true, to think differently rather than following the herd.
By dedicating some time ‘on’ the business things will become easier when you’re ‘in’ the business.
This is a time to keep things simple. We’ve seen one page strategy documents that tell everyone all they need to know – well-defined, accessible and, most of all, manageable. Start with clarity of purpose; a simple joint vision and mission statement such as Google’s ‘To organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’. Avoid long, corporate sounding statements that no one can remember, let alone become excited and inspired by. If you don’t get the ‘goose bumps’ when you come up with this, then revisit until you do.
Strategy doesn’t have to be about innovation and doing things differently. Start from a standpoint of doing the things that are already working well and evolving them – too much difference stresses people out (even though it might be very exciting for those who come up with the ideas). Once you have your ‘sensible plan’ then you can fire it up with some new stuff. You’ll need to need to sense check your plan frequently, listening to what’s going on around and on the ground, taking an agile approach so that plans can be flexed depending on what circumstances demand. So whilst the destination might remain the same, the journey is bound to take a few twists and turns along the way; that’s life in 2018.
Next month we’ll look successful approaches to delivering change