I think most of us would agree that we need a strategy. If we’re going to take our businesses forward then we need an end goal and a path otherwise how do you know which direction is forward. Something I see far too often however is people shying away from developing strategies due to a sense that they are lengthy, complex pieces of work that demand create endless power points and little bottom line value. This is misguided.
We all want results and we all want them now but jumping from one tactical delivery to another creates serious issues in a business. It means not being able to plan budgets and resources effectively for the future, it means never knowing what the next step forward is, it means being left behind by competitors as you stumble from bug fix to issue resolution and it means demotivating staff who get frustrated in the chaos and underperform and often leave, taking their knowledge with them.
A strategy does not have to involve a 100 page PowerPoint. It doesn’t have to take 6 months and it doesn’t have to be overly complex. If you are generating research and analysis data then you have a view of what your customers want. Your strategy to deliver this, alongside your business goals is quite simple to develop. By putting clear goals in place and assigning work streams to each of those with clear milestones over the next 1-3 years you have a strategy. You can then resource to that, budget accordingly and set clear objectives for your people.
This actually makes the rest of the process much easier as budget allocation decisions are almost made for you for example. Your people will see clear progress and stay motivated. Your clients will see their needs being met.
This blog will read to many of you as pretty obvious and yet it is definitely an issue I see regularly across organizations. I often talk of a scale with strategy at one end and delivery at the other. Many businesses fall at one end of this scale or the other. The right answer is to fall in the middle. Don’t spend years producing slides and never deliver. Don’t do stuff chaotically without a plan. Research, plan and deliver. Remember to think and do. You don’t have to choose between the two.