It may begin with the best intentions but, unless your strategy fits into the rhythm of the business, it’s no reason to be cheerful.
When your strategy process is embedded and rhythmic you can both manage today and shape tomorrow.
Some organisations treat their business strategy in much the same way as you might treat a boardroom table or brass plaque for the front door: It’s nice to have, so every few years you acquire a fairly good one. But, in all honesty, apart from the occasional polish, you don’t think about it from one day to the next. It’s just ‘there’.
These are the organisations that, in effect, don’t have a strategy. Like the exercise bike gathering dust in the garage, it was borne of good intentions but has no real function and benefits nobody.
By contrast, most successful organisations, be they product-based, service-based or not-for-profit, not only have a business strategy, but it is part of the rhythm of everyday life and decision-making. It doesn’t ‘belong’ to the boss, it is common property and feeds into all aspects of the business.
That way, people never lose sight of the bigger picture. Whatever rabbit-holes we burrow down in the course of a busy working day, we always have a compass, that helps us push in the right direction – even in darkness.
The key difference between having a dynamic, rhythmic strategy and a having faded brass-plaque strategy is not cost, or even expertise. It’s all to do with investing a little time and fostering ownership.
A few guiding principles
To make things simple, I have listed a few guidelines to help ensure your strategy is relevant, dynamic and useful.
By everyone, for everyone:
People engage better with a strategy if they have a stake in it. Rather than an edict from on high, it should be a product of discussion and debate within the whole team.
Pop it in the diary
Day-to-day priorities and panics will always trump a longer-term project. So don’t expect people to revisit your strategy unless it’s an integral part of the calendar. It’s about that rhythm again. That means an annual strategy planning meeting. Supplement this with quarterly meetings, to re-run diagnosis and prioritisation, and set out 90-day plans. Review progress monthly at board or leadership meetings.
It’s not what you know…
There’s a lot of high-brow talk about strategy and, if you’re not careful, some people will hold back from contributing if they don’t know the correct buzzwords or don’t feel confident in business-speak. So it’s vital you and your team don’t fret over getting things ‘perfect’ or understanding the more esoteric concepts out there. Ultimately its about understanding what you do, who you do it for, and how to do it better.
Strategy Rules OK(R):
Embed your strategy into everyday life through objectives that deliver key results. In this way, everyone from chairman to doorman understands their main objectives for the coming day, month and year. At Google, everyone’s OKRs appear alongside their details in the internal directory. The outcomes are a great way to measure the execution of strategy
Learn how Crawford Strategic can help you both manage today and shape tomorrow click here
To learn more about how Google use OKR’s to measure strategy execution, check out this amazing book How Google Works