You’ve spent days, possibly weeks or even months with your team going through a strategy process you were convinced would produce a winning growth strategy.

Now as Autumn approaches and Quarter 2 results are coming in, you have a sneaky suspicion things aren’t going to plan – financial results are disappointing, key initiatives are faltering – there seems to be an air of frustration around.

Pretty soon the strategy will be filed in an extensive buisness vault under ‘beautiful but useless’.

Chances are a pre-flight checklist wasn’t referred to before your teams began the work.  Here’s some pointers to ensure this year it’s different:

A clear destination – are the sponsors of the strategy aligned? Do they all want the same thing in 3-5 years. Are you sure some aren’t happy to coast while others are looking to sell the business?

Politics free ‘discovery’ – inevitably you need to ensure organisational politics have a positive not negative influence on the strategy process.  Is the outcome linked to the key staff performance objectives? Can they see that maximising the impact for the whole company provides them job satisfaction?

Hold your nerve – whether it was the dotcom crash of the late 1990s, 2008 recession, Brexit, Oil prices etc., you need to stand back and understand 1) it’s not personal, 2) your competitors are in the same situation and 3) inaction is not an option. And, look at trends not just the morning’s business headlines.

Objective decisions – an agreed set of suitability, acceptability and feasibility criteria for assessing ideas is essential if you want to ensure maximum commitment.  After all, the people involved are going to be working flat out to deliver the plan, so they and their teams need to understand the ‘why’ not just the ‘what’.  This can also inoculate the organisation against decision by force of personality.  Pet projects and bitter experiences are key, but it’s dangerous if they dominate discussions.

Capacity, capacity, capacity – enthusiasm and ambition are great to develop ideas, but ultimately the delivery resource will determine a strategy’s success. And that means people as well as financial resources – lack of staff to manage or deliver will undermine all the good work during implementation.

Making the special routine – if an extraordinary strategy takes extraordinary effort to by staff to deliver, it’s probably going to ‘the vault’.  Turn the strategy into departmental actin plans which are easy to link to the business plan plus straightforward to monitor.

Common sense? – yes, applied in reality? – not often.  Following the above should mean this time next year you can boast about not bury the company strategy!

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