Your strategy is supposed to inspire. Have you forgotten?
What’s the purpose of your strategic plan?
The possibilities are endless. Some might say that the sole purpose is to “enhance shareholder value.” I’d argue that this old trope is no longer the gold standard. Some adhere to the stakeholder model…which might be closer. Regardless of the “concept,” a given business strategy has to appeal to a lot of people.
Strategy, inasmuch as it deals with things that are less certain and immediate, is an argument. It’s an argument formed from assumptions that are (or should be) formed from knowable facts and less knowable (but educated) estimates.
But, something tends to happen on the way to building business strategies that derails one of the most important imperatives. We lose the power of inspiration. Usually, we lose it when the hardcore management nerds get ahold of the strategic planning and implementation “ecosystem” and start overswhelming the organization with jargon, tools, and really smart pablum.
A strategy is an argument, for sure. But it’s an argument that is–in the main–supposed to inspire action against specific aims. And, when you lose inspiration, you lose action.
How do you know if you are building an uninspiring strategy? Well, if it’s uninspiring to investors and the board they usually let you know. Where it gets tricky is when it’s uninspiring for employees, customers, partners, or other stakeholders. A lot of times, they will vote with their feet; and you don’t want that. The best way to test is usually to ask. I know, I know…too easy. But, it’s true.
So what’s a well-rounded leader like yourself to do if you find less than stellar inspiration in the ranks? Well, it depends on who the uninspiring one is. I’m reminded of the lyrics from The Smiths’ still fantastic song “Panic.”
It goes something like this:
Hang the blessed DJ
Because the music that they constantly play
It says nothing to me about my life
Hang the blessed DJ
Do you see it? Are you the DJ? Do you know who is? Did you hire the DJ? Did you allow the DJ (in the form of very smart but totally uninspiring consultants, perhaps) to hijack the strategy and make it a “value creation strategy” vs a truly inspiring enterprise strategy?
If you are authoring uninspired strategy, or hiring those who are, then consider starting over. If your strategy isn’t touching people where they live…through things that are relevant to their lives and livelihoods, then you are probably going to get hung at some point anyway, so why not just do it yourself?
Build strategy to inspire. And if you haven’t done that? Hang the DJ.
What do you think?