Two Things Missing from your Business Strategy

Each year executives embark on the arduous strategic planning process. After tireless discussion over the course of several weeks or months, sessions often result in haphazard job cost and revenue projections and detailed lists of company initiatives. While they may walk away from the process relieved to have a defined plan, confusion and lack of feasibility repeatedly stunt the execution of the strategy.

When companies are making strategic plans, they often fail to consider the key piece: the actual strategy that backs the decisions.

Traditional strategy is not bad, but it’s incomplete.

It fails to account for the rapidly-changing, extremely competitive modern business environment. Rather than seek to protect themselves from the future with a slew of banalities and buzzwords, companies need to consider what key decisions must be made to achieve long-term success.

Here are two things that will make a difference next time you embark on a strategic planning process.

1. Emphasize unique organizational elements.

When I ask management how their organizations differentiate from the competition, they will often spout some derivation of the mission, vision, and values statements. When I inquire how they will achieve these lofty ambitions, they will list off a series of simple initiatives that organizational leaders will take throughout the course of a year.

If one company’s strategy looks like every other company’s strategy, it will only be as good as its competition. Strategy is relative. I encourage every client to look at their competitive set and understand what it is doing in the marketplace. But the companies that stand out must define elements that are unique. A company cannot be the best at everything, so it must carefully select aspects of the business to invest in that will contribute the most to the customer and the competitive advantage.

2. Get different perspectives.

I always hear executives express that “people are the most important aspect of their company.” However, rarely do they include the H.R. Manager in the strategic planning process. When it comes to strategy, involving as many key players as possible will render the most successful implementation. Key ideas and perspectives must be represented. Keep in mind that true strategy is messy, complicated, and cannot be rushed or merely encompassed in a few precise phrases.

The secret to an effective plan is moving away from “strategic planning” and toward “strategic thinking.”