Answer these questions honestly, and then check and see if your answers match your team's answers:
- What will your customers buy?
- What are you producing?
If these two answers are aligned, congratulations! You've got a foundation for business success, assuming that you can deliver the goods. Many businesses have the answers to these, but there's a disconnect, and it's costing them the business. Businesses that are strategically aligned and able to execute on their strategy are in the top 10% of successful businesses. That's it...you just need to execute your business strategy effectively. How hard could that be, right? It turns out it's not that easy, but it is possible with a great system. We'll guide you through the key steps...
Aligned Strategy Development
Anyone can develop a strategy, however aligning your strategy to your mission, and what's most important to your customers and stakeholders is essential. For example, let's say that you operate a fitness gym, and offer a variety of services to your customers. Some of your customers want every muscle machine, while others simply want a pool, or fitness classes. Some want personal trainers, and some of them just want 24-hour access. You have to decide which of these options is the best for your growth strategy. As a leader, you must make wise choices.
Your strategy should consider industry trends and other competitors in your market for the same customer base. Your strategy will also guide whether it is smart to open that pool, or to simply highlight other features to reach those interested in those services. Consider the cost:benefit of your strategy in the short and long-term. Once you decide, always have a plan B or C. If you have a pool, you can offer a large variety of water classes and options, yet if another gym opens within a mile or two, your aquatics investment may be lost. Develop options, and vet them.
Aligned Strategy Communication
Once you identify your strategic direction, it must be communicated throughout the organization in order for it to become active and useful. Years ago, the trend was to develop a business strategy, and file it on a shelf until you really needed it or left the organization. Many sun-dried versions were found on top of file cabinets when cleaning vacant offices. Maybe that's why the office was vacated? Certainly, it didn't help...
Leaders believe that their strategy is being used, kind of, but might not be well-communicated or understood. If it's not understood, its as if it didn't exist - meaningless. It won't drive priorities or the behavior of leaders, nor anyone else, exactly. Consequentially, results from the strategy will not be as intended. Great strategy influences behavior toward aligned goals. The only way to put strategy to work is to explain it, share it (internally at least), and create an expectation that it is to be regularly used to guide priorities and use of resources. Broad communication of this is key.
Aligned Strategy Execution
Lastly, the key to higher levels of strategic success is to take the strategic plan off the top of the file cabinet, and place it in use to make key decisions, helping the organization to achieve it's mission and pursue it's vision. Most of our clients have developed a method that fits their culture and engages the senior leaders in making better decisions, consistent with their business services, structure, and value differentiation in the market. Executing the strategy is different for every business because the people and the market are different. If you're working with a resource that uses a cookie-cutter strategy for your business, run away quickly, and call us.
One of the essential steps to achieve aligned strategic execution is to define the desired end state in objective and measurable terms, and then identify specific performance measures to reflect progress over time. Identifying high-level strategic measures and results isn't easy to establish, but once in place, will create lasting benefit and rigor, which translates to better results. Measures then cascade and align to work processes in departments and work units. This is where the magic happens, and its a thing of rare beauty in motion.
Strategic Role of Leadership
If your organization's strategic alignment isn't in place, leadership needs to create the change. It's not the job of anyone else, and it can't be maintained by any delegate within a strategy team. It needs to be guided by the top leaders, consistently, and effectively. If your leadership team isn't sure how to get this in place, and make it stick, we can help. Remember, 90% of businesses have untapped opportunity in strategy execution. Don't let yours be one of them. Let's connect, and help you find a better way to achieve your goals. Just click the button below...
Dawn Garcia is Principal and Founder of Pursuit of Excellence LLC, an independent business management consulting firm specializing in service-based businesses; delivering leadership, strategy and execution expertise. Experience the Excellence Driven® System for your business, and achieve the results you need! Every business needs help at some point; great business leaders actually get help when needed, realizing greater returns. When you need help, consult the experts. Our success is your success!