- 16th April 2018
- Posted by: Manolis
Have you looked at your strategic plan recently? Is it an actual business strategy, or is it merely a list of tactics to execute through the year ahead without a full understanding of where the organization is going?
Strategic execution of tactics, while important, is not a strategy in and of itself. Ultimately, your strategy should answer where your business is going (your vision for the three to five years ahead), along with outlining what the organization will say yes to and what it will say no to. This includes looking at customers, partners, employees, your approach and more.
If you’re worried that outlining a longer-term picture of your company may limit the flexibility of your strategic execution, stop. Yes, you may have to change your execution over the course of the company’s life. However, if you don’t first have a clear understanding of where you’re going, then any amount of execution won’t have an impact, no matter how well it’s planned.
Concise Strategic Plans
While your strategic plan must include key information, it’s not meant to be a long-winded writing exercise. Some of the most effective plans I’ve worked with and on are limited to one page.
By limiting your strategy to one page, you get your ideas on paper in a format where you can see all their interconnections. This allows you to consider the internal aspects of your business (the service and product) and the external aspects (your clients, potential clients and vendors), seeing where they’re aligned and where there may be gaps.
In doing this, you keep yourself at a higher level of thinking without getting pulled down into the weeds. This means you identify the following when developing your strategy:
• Who your customers are
• What your clients’ pain points are
• What value your company provides to relieve these pains
• How the business provides value to clients
• Who or what your key resources and partners are
• What your unique value proposition is
• The cost structure for making money
• What your company wants to be known for
Remember that you, as the leader, are tasked with building the strategy, not the strategic execution.
Actively Looking For Gaps
Having identified this top-down strategy, you can now determine what you’re going to do to test it through experimentation, along with asking curious questions to elicit feedback. In other words, you’re testing to determine if you’re answering what your clients actually need or what you think they need. After all, you may execute well, but if no one is going where you are, you’re not going to sell anything.
When you actively look to poke holes in your strategy, you gain clarity to see if you’re:
• Attracting the right market
• Highlighting the right value for your audience
• Answering a real need
If you identify a gap, pivot and make changes to your overall strategy, not just in your execution of the strategy, as this will help you build a better strategic plan going forward.
What’s important is that you test your strategy with people in the real world — your clients, potential customers, stakeholders, etc. — and not just a management consultant or internal leadership team. It’s only after you’ve done this and identified where the gaps or misalignments are that you can get clear on your tactics, metrics and how you’re going to move forward.
With this clarity in your strategy, you, along with your team, can build the strategic execution around how you’re going to get to where you’re going and why those are the tactics for your overall strategy.
Take a step back and ask yourself: Is your current strategic plan moving you forward to where you want to go and where your customers need you to go? If not, think about how to elevate it from a strategic execution plan to a strategic business model that aligns with your customers.