Here are 5 thoughts on strategy that might be of use.
Every now and then, I just have to lay down a post to get the juices flowing again. This is one of those times. The past 6 months have been client-heavy and blogging-time light. As I typed and re-typed the title of this post, I became more acquainted with the factual reality of writer’s block. Namely, it’s not necessarily that ideas stop flowing, it’s that they stop flowing to the page. That is tough. And it’s something that I have to overcome every now and then.
So, in a kind of forced movement, here are 5 random thoughts on strategy, gleaned from recent experience, that might be of use to you.
Thought 1: When in doubt, sell.
Yes, yes, I know: It’s not rocket science to say that sales are strategically important to most any company. But, it’s shocking how little emphasis some management teams put on investing in and enabling their sales teams. Some management teams spend hours upon hours in meetings about their latest operational issues, but barely spend a moment on sales. It’s remarkable to see strategic priorities laid out that forget to emphasize sales.
Thought 2: Real innovators ship.
Having spent plenty of time around “innovative” organizations, I can tell you that they come in two types: Those who say they are innovative, and those who innovate. Management teams who use innovation as a slogan are wasting time. Real innovators ship product.
Thought 3: Strategy is content before process…function before form.
One of the major issues within the realm of strategic management is that people who are good at it are often very process-oriented. They like systems. But, systems aren’t really great at learning. Strategy is about learning and adapting. It’s about observing and adjusting. So, when you find yourself in a company whose approach to strategy is dominated (not supported, that’s different) by templates and processes, you are probably going to land off target. You want to focus on the content. A single page of strong strategic arguments are often far more effective than 50 pages of powerpoint slides produced because corporate said so.
Thought 4: There is a place for short-term management
Short-termism can be a very bad thing. It can lead to poor investment approaches and can leave big ideas on the cutting room floor in exchange for quick ones. Still, the discipline of short-term management tools (weekly reviews, monthly reporting, quarterly investor calls) can bolster performance and place emphasis on the longer-term. How? By ensuring that short-term decisions constantly reflect long-term objectives.
Thought 5: Your action plan is only as good as your leaders
Creating plans can be challenging. But, it is still a creative process, which means that there is some latitude in conceiving how the future will play out and putting it into plan format. If you are creative and thoughtful, you can build a great plan. But even the greatest of plans have to survive interpretation and ambiguity. And that’s the job of the leader who executes. So, make a real assessment of whether you have planned well, and then make an even more real assessment of whether you have put the right talent on the plan to overcome its inevitable deficiencies.
So, there you have it. Five random thoughts on strategy that might resonate. You might find them useful. What do you think?