Posts Tagged ‘strategy’

In 100 Words: Pry Open Strategy Thinking…With Questions

Friday, October 30th, 2020 by Troy Schrock

Thinking about the future during times of significant uncertainty can be mind-bending for leaders. A good set of questions is valuable in making sense of what we are experiencing and for setting priorities for the future.

• What brutal facts are we aware of, but ignoring to our detriment?
• Where is our arrogance causing disabling ignorance?
• What assumptions about our business model are no longer valid?
• What offerings are getting the most traction in the market? Why?
• What outcomes have surprised us (good or bad)?

What questions will be levers for your team for thought and conversation about the upcoming year?

“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.” Francis Bacon

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In 100 Words: Time for Strategy Planning

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016 by Troy Schrock

As leadership teams craft strategy plans for the upcoming year, they should remember the following lessons:

• There are no formulaic answers, however, you can benefit from a systematic approach to both your preparation and strategy planning conversations.

• Markets are dynamic so be disciplined in your strategy thinking. Challenge and test your basic assumptions – even if they are producing good results. Things change.

• Strategy requires clear choices and resource commitment. Each decision either reinforces or weakens the whole. The strength of how the decisions weave together form the fabric of compelling business models (think IKEA, The Container Store and Southwest Airlines).

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes… but no plans.” – Peter Drucker

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Discipline: Are You Focused On Your 95%?

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011 by Susan Diehl

I was shocked recently as I read a blog entry on change by Tony Schwartz on the Harvard Business Review Online. In it, he states that 95% of our behaviors are habitual, and only 5% are consciously self-selected. How can this be? Are we so programmed that we literally only choose to do things 5% of the time? This hit home for me in particular, since I believe so strongly that we must be intentional in our behaviors, our decisions, our choices. No wonder why companies can so easily stagnate! Even when leadership teams have hired the right people, formed a high-performing leadership team and articulated a compelling strategy, results can still suffer. When it comes time to executing our strategy, we can so easily fall back into the habits of disengagement, politics, and stagnation. What can we do to make sure we don’t fall into the trap of (bad) habits?

First, it is about working to change your bad habits into good ones. So, you need to identify what are those unintentional behaviors that you want to change. I suggest you put together that “stop, start, continue” list for your department or organization. Recognize that you may be doing things just from habit and they no longer may be creating value in the way they once did. So, stop doing them! Don’t allow yourself to think “well, we’ve always done that” or “it is tradition” if no positive benefit is coming from what you’re doing. Start doing things that are necessary to your organization’s success, for example, setting objectives regularly, holding yourself accountable for achieving goals, acting on lessons learned. And, where you are doing things right, continue to do them intentionally and with purpose. You can enhance those good behaviors by recognizing them and actively working to increase their positive impact.

Second, stay focused and precise relative to what you want to change. Some clients repeatedly say “my goal is to increase sales”. Well, we all would like to increase sales, but it is more effective to identify precisely what specific actions you intend to take to help improve the likelihood of that outcome. For example, set a goal to spend some time as a team developing your value proposition, identifying your key customer segments and selling more to your high-value accounts. Set one critical goal at a time, work to achieve it and then go on to the next one. This will help you to identify the change you want to happen and increase the success rate.

Third, as Tony Schwartz observes: “Put simply, the more behaviors are ritualized and routinized — in the form of a deliberate practice — the less energy they require to launch, and the more they recur automatically.” If your strategy has become “credenza-ware,” you need to make sure you set aside the time to meet with your team and work on your execution together. Having a routine meeting rhythm will create the opportunity to change the inefficiency of your team members operating in a vacuum, or, worse yet, functioning at cross-purposes to the other groups in the organization.

Finally, take it one step at a time. These habits didn’t all start the same day and they won’t disappear overnight. It is all about setting priorities, knowing what makes sense within the culture of your organization, and recognizing that change takes time. I’m encouraged to start paying attention to my 95% and producing the high value change I’m after!


Strategic Retreat? More Like Strategic Advance

Monday, November 1st, 2010 by Troy Schrock

This is the time of year for annual strategic planning sessions.  Business leaders are pulling their executive teams together to map out a strategy for the coming year.  “It’s time for our 2011 strategic planning retreat,” they’ll say.

Retreat?  Do we really have to call it that?  I know the strict definition of the word, but its connotation bothers me. 

The business world frequently adopts terminology from the military context.  We say things like, “It’s time to launch a marketing offensive,” “We’re ready to unleash an all-out assault on the market,” or “We’ve been in hunker-down mode for the last year.”  In fact, even the term strategy originates in the military. 

From that standpoint, retreat is a negative word.  It’s synonymous with withdraw, relinquish, and concede.  Is that the way you want to be thinking as your organization plans its coming year?  I don’t think so. 

It’s time to retire the strategic retreat.  From now on, lead your organization on a strategic advance.  It’s time to advance your purpose and achieve your goals.  Assess your current position, identify the target, and push forward.  That’s what you really hope to do, so call it what it is.