Business Strategy – “Keep it simple”

Business Strategy is a major talking point today and it has long been suggested to be the best way to grow your business and effectively build a great company.  But is it?  This strategy facts blog offers some mind-blowing facts on strategy as viewed by CEOs.  Including “80% of leaders feel their company is good at crafting strategy but only 44% at its implementation.” (HOW)

One of our local leaders in Southwest Michigan, Ron Kitchens often remarks, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.”  The fact is, he is correct!  The culture in your business is extremely important and well entrenched. If you want to enhance or modify it, be prepared for a challenge.  This is an overlooked aspect of business strategy.  It is also an area as a leader you can have significant impact on.

Here is a great way to approach a change of that magnitude.  We have all heard the phrase KISS or Keep It Simple S____.  It really speaks to the point that simple focused ideas are more easily communicated and consistently shared over time and between others.  Most importantly, they are more easily achieved!  Yet it seems today that we like to develop complex strategies and plans that frankly just plain outright will not work as envisioned.  So, what can we do?  I would suggest that keeping it simple may be exactly the right solution.  If you desire to create a solid strategy and build a foundation for growth, then you must be able to communicate this on a constant and consistent basis to the company, customers, shareholders and suppliers.

Leverage your culture to your team’s advantage.  As a leader, the culture is greatly influenced by you.  Meaning you have the ability to steer the culture down the highway or into the ditch.  As we discuss the next two keys to a successful strategy think about the concept of aligning each one with the culture.

Let’s examine what key elements should be included in a strategy.  The elements are WHY, and HOW.  Of course, a strategy should include the use of SWOT analysis, market studies, economic data, etc.  However, as Simon Sinek has stated in a variety of ways “Start with WHY”.  We all want to know why we have to do something.  Once we do, it is much easier to commit to it and excel at it.

Strategy is no different.  It is the master game plan for the business.  It is full of reach efforts and usually can provide great rewards or assure survival.  The “WHY” behind the objectives in your strategy must be communicated and shared in an open environment that allows for debate.  Remember to align the WHY discussion with your culture.

Many leaders with an autocratic tendency see no need to talk to the troops, peril will follow them.  Ask yourself this, “if a debate within the company uncovers a flaw in the strategy, then the answer to solve that challenge is probably in the same room?”.  We all say we hire great people.  Then use them!

The other key element behind successful implementation of the strategy is having a plan for “HOW”.  Every great war movie has a scene where a situation seems impossible.  However, typically someone shares an idea and a series of steps that ends with, “That might actually work!”.

A key step to learn as a leader is this.

·      State the objective to be achieved.

·      Then ask, “what would we need to do to make this happen?”

You will be amazed at the free flow of ideas that “just might work!”

So, effective business strategies are composed of the following:

1.     Simple clear objectives.  (double the market share of our medical products, or increase our restaurant traffic by 30%, become the leader in employer benefit services)

2.     Create a clear statement explaining “WHY” this is the objective.

3.     Develop a plan to explain “HOW” you believe this can be accomplished.

4.     Be sure to keep the WHY and HOW aligned with your culture!

5.     SELL this strategy and communicate it daily to employees, customers, suppliers and stakeholders.

If you are working to grow your business and desire some guidance, give SPC Consulting a call.