I just read a review of the new release movie ‘The Great Gatsby’ that said it’s extravagant and will basically blow your mind with the imagery and decadence, but afterwards you’ll wonder what the fuss was about. It made me think of many strategy launches I’ve endured over the years. Big launch, big fuss, then – not much. Which was a pity, because in many cases a lot of analysis, thinking and resurces had gone into it. Here’s 4 reasons why a ra-ra big-fuss launch of your strategy might be a bad idea -
1. People can get the impression that the work is done, the strategy is ‘achieved’, when in fact, the work is only just beginning. The work of implementation. Without it, all the resources that have gone into the strategy development are a complete waste of time.
2. Often staff treat big launches as BOHICA (for the uninitiated this stands somewhat un-charmingly for ‘bend over, here it comes again!). This tends to result in a fairly determined ignoring of the new strategy by many.
3. A big launch can tend to highlight who wasn’t involved, and even if different areas have had representation, this is often forgotten as time passes. It can feel to many like this is something top management are handing down, and that really doesn’t get much buy-in.
4. A big showy launch tends to highlight what you’re intending to change, rather than what you are keeping. A better way to get buy-in is often to start with what is working well, and what is staying the same.
Jenni offers a free report ‘How to think strategically’ at her website – http://www.strategies-direct.com
The race to be the best has seemingly resulted in a human tragedy. Is there a limit, or should there be, in the quest to be the best? I sometimes have clients with a concern about their strategic thinking and planning – a concern that working on a strategy means they have to grow and take over the market. Can you have a strategy to stay the same, they sometimes ask?
In the business world, Governments tend not to like companies that ultimately achieve this quest to be the biggest and best – they are called monopolies and Governments in this part of the world are keen to legislate to stop them from completely destroying their competition. Competition is considered healthy in democracies. And yet, much of the published information about strategy is exactly that – a quest to dominate your niche or market ie become the monopoly.
There’s another problem with the endless quest to be faster, bigger, better – exhaustion. Exhaustion of the people in the business. Exhaustion of the environment as more and more resources are used. Exhaustion of customers continually facing changes to products and services – albeit improvements.
So back to the question about whether strategy can be developed to retain size rather than grow. Firstly we need to understand what strategy is. Strategy is the unique element or mix of elements that give your business or organization a competitive advantage. If you do not have a competitive advantage, you are likely to be forced into a spiral (downward) of simply competing on price. That is the toughest way to have to compete and survive.
Once you understand the niche or market you are in and have established your competitive advantage, it’s then time to decide what your long term goals are. For some of my clients, it is to maintain the same organizational size. It is the discretion of the business owner as to the long term vision and goals. Staying a similar size is perfectly valid, and if your competitive advantage succeeds in making you the most desirable provider in your niche, there are ways to alter price and supply, and to utilise technology to manage growth the way you want to.
Strategic thinking and planning is essential no matter what your growth plans. The human quest to be faster, bigger and better has risks attached and yet it is this competitive drive that develops many of the innovations we value. Ultimately we have to find some way to decide what the limits are and where the risks are too great – to human life and our planet.
Jenni offers a free report ‘How to be a Strategic Thinker’ at her website http://www.strategies-direct.com
I spend a lot of time reading, thinking, writing and talking about strategic thinking. That’s what happens when you become an expert in something, isn’t it? You spend more time than most other people on that topic, therefore you know more about it. It’s not rocket science. Everything I read about experts suggests that you also must role-model your topic. So for instance, if you are advising others about wealth creation, it adds significantly to your credibility if you are actually wealthy yourself. If you are an expert in organic food, there’s an expectation that you personally buy and eat organic food. You get the picture?
So as I specialise in strategic thinking, it is reasonable to suggest I ought to think strategically myself. By and large, I naturally do – though that’s not to say I don’t notice detail, nor that I always spot opportunities or risks. However I normally do better than this week.
This week is tax week. GST and Income tax all due together! This week strategic thinking has gone out the window. I raced into my bank account and robbed the savings account to pay the tax. Yes, I have an account especially for tax that is supposed to cover it, but it never does quite. Especially when two lots are due at once! So this week there’s no future view, it’s just find the money and pay up. This must be why they say ‘Cashflow is King’.
Does that mean strategic thinking is no use when there’s a short-term crisis? Well yes, actually – in the midst of the crisis is not the time to be doing your strategic thinking, even if you specialise in it. At that stage, it’s survival mode and the focus is very much short-term. However, if there’s been some decent strategic thinking and planning going on, much will be planned for and there will be responses ready. The point of strategic thinking and planning is to help minimise the knee-jerk reactions.
So back to my tax account – guess I better up the automatic payment…..
Maybe it’s just me – I am so OVER trying to get information from videos. Sorry marketers, but I just don’t have time to be forced to sit through all the blah-blah-blah at the beginning and wait many minutes until I get the piece I want. Give me an article anyday. I can skim read, find the piece I need, and move on.
I’ve debated a long time, if and how, to include video in my marketing and training offering. So far I’ve stalled, mainly because I just don’t like it myself. But maybe I am out of step here – maybe everyone else LOVES video. Certainly YouTube has more than proven itself – although I suspect its biggest uptake is people watching funny stuff rather than people trying to get a specific piece of information in a business context.
But maybe the tide is changing. Yesterday I received an e-mail from an internet marketer who has been doing everything on video (so I have no idea what the products are because I haven’t watched any!). I noted with interest he had added after the subject – ‘Article’ – in brackets. I’m just guessing – but I suspect his open rates are down.
How about you? Are you more or less inclined to click through if you know it’s a video?
Whether or not you celebrate Easter, it gives another opportunity - during what is for most of us, a hectic schedule - to slow down for a bit and take some time out to think. It’s only thinking that allows us to see the trends emerging, notice patterns and formulate ideas. It’s only thinking that allows us to work out how to properly implement those ideas, see problems clearly and develop proper solutions. Of course much of this thinking is also effective when done with others – more so if you are more inclined to be an extrovert. But for everyone, and introverts in particular, a chance to think quietly is precious and productive.
So this Easter, allow yourself some time to just think. If the Easter bunny visits you – enjoy! And if you celebrate Easter, may it be a spiritually reflective and ultimately joyful time.
Jenni specializes in strategic thinking for better decisions and business success. She offers a free report about how to be a strategic thinker, and other resources, at www.strategies-direct.com
The area I live in is close to drought conditions in places, and the local Council has instigated a series of water restrictions over the past couple of months. We are now at ‘Level 3′, meaning no sprinkler use for homeowners and regular calls to minize water use. However it appears that some divisions of the Council haven’t heard about the water problem! They are giving quite different messages to the public. Oh dear, silo management rearing it’s ugly head, methinks!
Two weeks ago, we had a pipe burst in our front yard and water began bubbling up and running down to the road. The Council responded quickly to investigate – unfortunately it was on our property so we had to sort it out – which we promptly did. However the Council employee was amazed that we were running in and out turning our water supply on and off, so as to conserve water. ”Just leave it on,” he said. So what about the water restrictions, I wondered?
Worse, an extended family member living in the same area also had a pipe burst in their front yard, this week, (I’m wondering about the quality of these pipes!) and the Council have advised them it will be 10 days until they can investigate. 10 days of water continually running down to the road! How many litres will that be in 10 days time? And what about these water restrictions? My family members are now sceptical about the need to conserve water – and I expect other homeowners in their street are too. And they will tell their workmates, friends and family, who will tell theirs and so on. Pretty soon a whole bunch of people are less bothered about conserving water use.
The thing is, that if your organization has a key issue or strategy and needs to bring stakeholders on board for that, everyone in the organization must be speaking and acting in alignment with it. It doesn’t matter whether they work in the team or division that is responsible for that issue or strategy, everyone in the organization is responsible for implementation. Now if it turns out that the team that check burst pipes are shortstaffed then you get more resources for them. In fact, you do what it takes to prevent water wastage. If water conservation is really a key issue. If it isn’t, then stop promoting it as one.
Silo management, where managers are only responsible for their team or division, and not for organization wide goals and initiatives, almost always defeats the implementation of strategy. Do you have silo management? If so, some work needs to be instigated to change reward systems so that managers are responsible for organizational goals as much as for their own area’s goals – and the understand clearly when and how organizational issues override divisional ones.
Get your free report ‘How to think strategically’ at http://www.strategies-direct.com
Last week we spent a day at the beach, and as I walked along in the shallow waves, I was surprised at the strength of the water going opposite the tidal direction. At the time the tide was going out, and certainly the water pulled back out to sea strongly. But equally strong it seemed, were the waves heading into shore. To the extent that a range of lovely shells, seaweeds and other not-so-lovely debris headed in on each wave and some was left on the beach for us to find. In each set of waves, there was only a small difference in how far back to sea the water actually moved. And yet the tide does goes in and then out to schedule. It struck me that this was an excellent analogy for strategy implementation (and usually that means change!).
When you are implementing something new, it often feels like those waves. For every movement forward you make, there are many actions and behaviours pulling in the opposite direction, or just clinging to the existing ways of doing things. It seems that for every piece of progress you make, there are equal areas of resistance. This can be frustrating – especially if you have a time frame you are working to.
Most change management theory, in a nutshell, works on persuading the people affected by the change that it is a good idea, and doing lots of communication about why you are changing and how it will all work. This is all validated stuff and I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t do it. However, in my experience, no matter how well this is all managed, there will be pockets of resistance and it will take longer than you would like to get things implemented. So what can we learn from the sea about making change happen? Here are my thoughts:
- It takes persistance over time. Assume you will need to keep communicating about the changes for some time, and plan to keep monitoring behaviours and practices well into the future to ensure things do not slip back in the wrong direction. I encourage clients to keep strategy actions in their plans until such time as they are able to be regularly monitored somewhere else in their day to day processes.
- You might feel like half the time you are going backwards. Progress might seem small at times, but as long as you are generally moving in the right direction you will get there. Think the old class tale of the rabbit and the tortoise.
- There’s likely to be benefits from resistance. Often the questions asked, or issues raised, are matters that could cause problems down the track or result in better outcomes. I was recently involved in a project where a recommended action was going to cost double the usual amount. It seemed the best idea to the project team for various reasons, but when some resistance arose and questions were asked, it prompted some looking at alternatives and a far superior option was uncovered. At the time it appeared to be slowing things down and putting at risk some of the timeframes, but actually the resistance turned out to be beneficial.
- If a massive force of nature like the sea can change direction every few hours, creating and implementing change in our organizations ought to be a doddle, oughtn’t it? Of course it rarely is! But take heart that if the sea can keep moving and changing, surely your people can. Keep insisting on the actions and behaviours you need from them and over time it will happen.