Leadership

Do You Know Where You’re Going? That’s Why You Need a Strategy

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Editor’s note: This is the second part of a summer series in how to improve your organization’s performance.

According to our marketing partner (Preactive Marketing), the phrase “strategy is…” generates roughly 13.6 million global hits. This indicates it is quite a popular topic and that people are interested in what a strategy should contain and why having one is important.

Strategy has different meanings to different people; so how would you finish the sentence, “Strategy is…” ? I would finish it something like this:

“A strategy delineates a territory in which a company seeks to be unique.” — Prof. Michael Porter

Why your organization needs a strategy

Wise words from Prof. Porter. Based on how most define strategy, the main reason for the existence of strategy is to achieve end goals. Organizations can’t succeed at getting where they want to go if they don’t have a plan of how to get there.

So, why is having a strategy important? Why conduct strategic planning?

A solid strategy is the cement and mortar in the foundation of any successful organization. You’ve got to have a plan – actionable processes.

You need a plan and process for how to:

  • Handle change;
  • Manage for results;
  • Provide customer support;
  • Increase adaptability;
  • Promote communication;
  • Guide management decisions;
  • Remain future-oriented.

Developing a strategy

The strategy is a supporting document that should contain actionable processes to help you answer important questions and achieve success – it should also outline what success looks like for your organization and how you measure that success. The strategy should assist in defining target markets, processes, structures, roles and responsibilities, and key customers and stakeholders.

How does an organization develop a strategy?

Carefully; this shouldn’t be a rush job. The strategy is like the compass for your organization — it provides direction.

Developing a strategy should include several components. A solid strategy should include a focus and analysis on both internal (history, politics, culture, structure) and external factors (competitors, customers, environment, laws and policy). The organization should also include the development of the mission and vision of developing a strategy as well as targets, goals and initiatives, and measures of success.

Questions you need to ask

So, in short, the strategic planning process should ask and answer the following questions (here is your cheat sheet!):

  • Where are we now?
    • Internal/external environmental assessment;
    • Customer and stakeholder identification.
  • Where do we want to be?
    • Mission;
    • Vision;
    • Targets;
    • Initiatives;
    • Objectives.
  • How do we measure our progress?
    • Performance measures and KPIs.
  • How do we get there?
    • Supporting strategies and initiatives;
    • Action plan;
    • Tracking system.

You see, strategy is a facet of business that is imperative to succeeding.

He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”Winston Churchill

If you don’t know where you are going – how will you ever get there?

Did you miss Part 1 of this series? See Raise Your Hand If You Can Improve Employee Development & Recognition

This was originally published on the Tolero Think Tank blog.

Scott Span, MSOD, is CEO & Lead Consultant of Tolero Solutions , an organizational improvement and strategy firm. He helps clients in facilitating sustainable growth by connecting and maximizing people --> performance --> profit™, developing people and creating organizations that are more responsive, productive and profitable. You can follow him on Twitter, or contact him via email at scott.span@tolerosolutions.com.
  • Carol Schultz

    Scott:  Right on target.  This is the first part of my process with clients.  It is unfortunate that more companies don’t realize this step is critical.

    • Scott Span

      Thanks, Carol. I agree, often this phase can be overlooked or not done to the fullest extent, which makes any subsequent changes often more difficult.