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Back to the future

six pillars of strategy

“When the going gets tough …the tough get going”.  The well known sports maxim is still very applicable to business people today.   For anyone at home waiting out the Coronavirus hoping that business will return to normal, history tells us that now is the not the time to wait and see how it all pans out.  Rather now is the time to act.   Recognize that your 2020 strategy is now redundant.  You’ll need a new one!  Now is the time to get going and prepare your business for a new reality.  Get together online with your team to get your business (or business unit) moving again.  Start preparing now by ensuring your business resources are aligned with future opportunities.   Here’s how…

  1. Define your purpose:  It’s a new world out there so first things first.  In order to lead your business or business unit through a crisis and onto new heights it’s imperative that every team member be 100% clear about the purpose of your organization and the business unit they work for.   This is not a superficial conversation.  To do this properly, answer the following questions honestly and aggressively.  Meaningful answers are unique to your business and not easily duplicated by your competition:
    • Why does our business exist? How did we come to be?   
    • What is the single most important reason we are here now? 
    • Who do we serve and why is this important?    
    Your stated purpose needs to be relevant to a set of customers who’s lives you improve. Your purpose needs to be unique and your company must be the rightful owner of that purpose. Once this is done set your…. 
  2. Vision and Objectives: Given that single important reason you exist and why its important to customers, determine (as a group) what can be accomplished in the next 2 – 3 years with the resources available.   Ensure the answers are a. specific, b. measurable, c. controlled by your team and d. aggressive yet reasonable.   That’s what your team plans to accomplish.   Next is the strategy; the how.   
  3. Set the Strategy: To ensure the resources of your business (or business unit) are aligned with your future market opportunities answer these questions.  
    • Do you have the right products or services to conquer the future?  (Portfolio strategy)
    • Are these targeted at the right customers?  (Segmentation strategy) 
    • Do you have the right message, so customers fully comprehend the value you bring to them? (Positioning strategy).  
    Next step is… 
  4. Strategy Execution:  Once your strategy is completed continue with these important steps….
    • Communicate your strategy: remind everyone of that unique reason your business exists, then focus on two or three initiatives your team will complete to bring that unique offering to a group of customers who value it and will pay for it.  Communicate this on one page and in five minutes or less! 
    • Skills:  identify any new skills your team will need to successfully execute the new strategy and put a plan in place to close this gap.
    • Incentives: Ensure all incentives align with the new strategy.   Make sure to kill any previous incentives that reward decisions no longer aligned with your new direction!
    • Align Resources:  Strategy is simple – it’s where your resources are allocated (your time and money).    Ensure the resources of your business are aligned with your future opportunities.   Do this objectively and with transparency.  
    • Systems and Structure:  To execute a strategy you need systems and a structure that work.  Now is the perfect time to remove any sand that is grinding your organizational gears and upsetting your team.  Ensure your systems and structure support your strategy and stop any that don’t. 
    • Roles and Responsibility: Everyone must know their role in executing the strategy and securing your company’s future.  This often means that supporting teams must develop their own smaller strategies.  Supply chain / HR / Finance /  Marketing / Sales etc. all need to ensure resources are aligned with opportunities.  Don’t do their strategy (that’s micromanaging) but rather make sure it’s done following the same process as above.  

As you develop your new strategy, keep asking that one single most important question and ask it every time a decision is made or needs to be made.  Write it in your book, make it your screen saver and write it on everyone’s door…  Are the resources of our business … aligned with our future market opportunities?   Keep answering that question well and the future is yours.  Winston Churchill wisely said “if you’re going through hell … keep going”  and now more than ever is the time to get going!

Download the Six Pillars of Strategy Here

1. HBR Nov / Dec 2019 Why are We Here S Blout and P Leinwand

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