When talking strategy, it is important to remember that it is no more than determining how the vision of the business will be achieved.
Of paramount importance, is the realisation that it cannot remain talk and no action, so let’s unpack the strategic management process with a view to offering a DIY guide to shaping your future.
First things first – when managing a business strategically, we have to reflect on the past learnings and current reality, and then put in the effort to formulate a vision of what we are trying to achieve. A vision provides the WHY needed to bring alignment of actions and team dynamics. It’s a must. If you need inspiration, have a look at Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk on how great leaders inspire action that has generated close to 11 million views on YouTube to date.
Secondly, with a clear and articulated vision for the business completed and communicated to all stakeholders, time to turn to a good old-fashioned SWOT analysis, whilst also involving the stakeholders involved in achieving the vision. Without getting too technical, there is a wealth of information on SWOT’s available on the net, it is important to note that the Strengths and Weaknesses are internal, and Opportunities and Threats, external in nature.
From the groundwork done in the initial stages, clear strategic goals and objectives need to be identified and importantly a timeframe associated within which each objective is to be achieved. We have found it practical to work to timeframes based on quarters of a year, as the reality is that an audacious goal will not easily be achieved within one month only. Keep in mind that your business might have seasonal pressures, therefore avoid having too many strategic objectives scheduled for these times of the year.
Now that the strategic goals have crystalised, the rubber hits the road and it is time to put action to those goals. Keep the strategic management process alive in the business by having an open reflection on a regular basis.
Some final thoughts to consider:
• Align your strategic timeframe with your financial year;
• Make sure your budget is aligned to your strategic plan;
• Assign responsibilities to team members to make sure you do not carry the burden alone;
• Align incentives to the execution of the strategic plan and achieving the objectives contained in it.
• Use cloud-based platforms to collaborate on the strategic plan and to exchange views and ideas. This aids visibility and prevents departments working in silo’s, all need to align around the central purpose and vision of the business.
Execution and implementation of your strategic plan is in our view the most important aspect of the strategic management process – it might just be the difference between winning or losing in your business. Ignore it at your own peril!