Why do strategies stall?
I wrote a whole book (MOVE) about this question and how to deal with it.
But today I want to talk specifically about a very simply test you can use to make sure your strategy is executable.
“Is there more than one approach?”
A company can be really clear about what it wants to accomplish, yet struggle to articulate the specific steps that will make it come true.
For example if your strategy to grow revenue is to improve market perception, that might sound like a strategy to grow revenue, but the problem is that there is more than one approach to “Improve Market Perception”.
Even if everyone agrees on that goal, you can’t just tell your team, “Go forth and improve market perception,” and expect it to happen.
Remember, strategy describes what you will DO
As an executive you need to guide your team through a discussion about what you will DO to accomplish your goal.
For example, here are a few of the many things you might do to accomplish the goal of improving market perception:
- Train your sales people to engage differently
- Establish a different online presence
- Change your marketing positioning/Sales message/Go to market strategy
- Improve your relationships with market analysts and media
- Change your product/The way you deliver your product
- Create a new customer service offer
Any one or combination of these things could work to improve market perception. But if you don’t clearly choose which of them you will DO, then your team will not be able to execute.
They will keep doing what they are doing and wait for more direction.
Execution is not beneath you
Many executives will say, “I want to be able to set the direction and have my team implement it. If I tell them WHAT to do that is micro managing.”
The problem is that by saying, “Improve Market Perception,” you are not setting direction.
…You are simply articulating another hoped-for, end goal one level down from “grow revenue”.
The test is, “Is there more than one approach to improving market perception? How many approaches can we list?”
If you come up with a lot of approaches, you do not have an executable strategy.
To truly set direction and let your team execute, you need to help define the basic approaches you are going to invest in, and then apply resources to them, and THEN let your team execute.
THAT is setting direction.
But if you never align on which approach you will choose you have not defined an executable strategy and applied resources to the chosen approach, you will still be hoping for an outcome without an executable plan to get there.
What are your goals?
Think about the really important goals your team talks about all the time. When you talk about them everyone agrees they are critical. We must improve quality. We must innovate. We must respond to a competitive threat. We must evolve our business model to provide better service.
Then think about how many possible approaches there are to accomplish that goal. If there could be more than 1, you need to go back to the drawing board with your team to be more specific.
If you’d like some help with this, you can read my book MOVE, I’ve put all the secrets in there. If you’d like my help working with your team on this, you can learn about my Strategy into Action program.
What do you think?
What do you think about these ideas? What would you add? Join the conversation about this on my Facebook page.
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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor.
She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)