Have you ever noticed how often the word ‘strategy’ is used in business meetings, reports and speeches? You might be tempted to believe that once an organisation has a strategy all will be well with the world and employees and shareholders alike can rest peacefully in their beds at night. But are we always clear and consistent on what a strategy actually is and what it is there to achieve?
Here at JA Consulting, we define strategy as an action orientated statement that sets out the goals of the organisation and how they will be achieved, typically covering a three to five-year period. By creating an action focused strategy with defined goals, senior leadership teams are better prepared to engage and gather support from both shareholders and employees.
If this is not the case, there can be a number of challenges which can hinder the development and implementation of an effective business strategy:
- A leadership team focusing on day to day issues and failing to invest adequate time in considering the future in terms of products/services, competitors and customer needs, leaving them without a coherent and compelling future vision that they all visibly support
- The confusion that arises from the proliferation of several initiatives (and the supporting documents and strategies) that have little in the way of overarching coherence. Often these are driven by different functions within the business doing what they consider is best for the business but often in splendid isolation
- An absence of a clear line of sight between the strategy and the initiatives, programmes and projects that are underway within the organisation. The strategy sits in an ivory tower as an aspiration whilst the business gets on with the day to day matters
Whilst there are some high-profile examples of the failure of corporate strategy (check out what happened to Enron in 2001); a poorly devised strategy, which is not well understood by employees or driven through into implementation, can be detrimental to business success. It may be less newsworthy but that is not to say that there is no impact.
Over the past 30 years, we have worked with a range of organisations on effective strategy planning, communication and implementation. We have identified the need to work with the top teams to first clarify the strategy and to then make sure that it is cascaded down the organisation. By doing this we have helped our clients to create a clear vision of the future which works both as a beacon for employees to move towards, as well as providing direction for the prioritisation of investment in change activities.
Based on our experience we have created the simple check list below:
- Invest adequate top talent time into developing and modelling future scenarios and creating the business strategy
- Work hard to make sure that the leaders visibly support the strategy and are passionate when they talk about it
- Communicate the strategy to employees, stakeholders and shareholders and react positively to feedback
- Ensure the strategy is converted into an action plan and track progress towards your strategic goals – question the value of activity that doesn’t support the vision
- Finally, be prepared to modify the strategy if the environment changes – never before has agility been so important.
To find out if your strategy is working for you, please contact Richard Goodson at JA Consulting, firstname.lastname@example.org
About Richard Goodson: Richard is an experienced change consultant with a passion for improving performance by defining and delivering solutions to challenging business issues. He brings an ability to see the big picture and then to define and drive through the detail of what needs to be done to deliver the desired outcomes.