What Does a Great Strategy Look Like?
I had a great conversation this past week with a friend who is starting a new company with a great idea that shows tremendous promise. My friend knows his idea is exciting, and he has the financial wherewithal to get the company going, but he lacks confidence that his Company will be able to make the jump from start-up to successful business. He asked me to help him write down 10 elements of a great strategy. We did that for his business, but that got me to thinking I should probably do that for a more generic application, so here goes…
10 Elements of a Great Strategy
Success is always about getting the people aspects right. You need to recruit, hire, train, and manage a great team to extraordinary performance. Get the right people, get them in the right jobs, and get them motivated to do their best work, and you will greatly increase your company’s chance of enjoying outsized success.
Make sure that everyone in leadership knows that there is only one way to treat every member of the team, and that is with the utmost respect. Nothing destroys performance so quickly as a leader who treats subordinates like they are pawns in the game. Celebrate and encourage your outstanding people, always!
Your Values need to be strong, and they need to guide behavior in your company for the next 100 years or so. Build your culture around the customer, and get very clear about delivering consistent extraordinary value for your customer, and remain congruent with that, and attentive to that, for perpetuity.
Make sure that everyone in the company knows that if they are not aligned with the cultural values of the company, there will be an adjustment. Expect that mistakes will be made and that they are the price of moving forward quickly, and learning rapidly while you do.
Build a learning culture where moving forward to serve customers quickly is prized. No matter what, don’t ever let anyone ignore your customers, even for a moment.
3) Positive Atmosphere
Create a candid atmosphere where executives and employee associates alike will communicate openly in a very open way, so that time is not lost on posturing, politics, or blame. Ensure that every member of the organization from the CEO to the Janitorial staff knows that positivity and a solutions-oriented attitude are the only acceptable approaches in your firm.
When anybody demonstrates a blame mentality or begins to act like they’re entitled, step in quickly to vaccinate them with a heavy dose of your expectations of correct behavior. Don’t allow anyone to mess up or distract your hard-working top performers
Challenge every member of the team to get beyond their comfort zone daily. Set ambitious goals that will stretch everyone on the team, far enough that they’re not 100% certain that they can achieve the goals.
Make sure that executing against expectations is a given in your company, and that every associate knows that you set ambitious goals, and then expect to overachieve regularly against them.
Set your sights high! When the team delivers those ambitious results, ensure that you keep them motivated intrinsically and extrinsically by rewarding them with recognition and meaningful rewards.
5) Obstacles & Chaos
Nothing slows a team down like obstacles that management doesn’t notice or pay attention to. When your team uncovers obstacles, obliterate them and help them to refocus on accelerating forward. When the fog of war or the chaos of the unclear begins to misalign your team, step in and provide clarity immediately.
When the path is clear, and the objective is clear, a team can move quickly. When obstacles lurk, or when the final destination is obscured by fog, progress comes to a screeching halt. Your job as a leader is to anticipate these things and to remove them from the playing field as quickly as they appear.
Inspire your team with a very clearly articulated vision of your company’s future. Make sure that you make it visceral for them. They need to feel how you want the company to feel, you need them to be able to see it in their emotional mind’s eye so that they will be motivated to make it happen.
7) Growth and Change
Keep your team focused on growth and help them to understand the company evolution as the company moves through the various growth stages on your journey. Don’t let the team lose momentum when the inevitable choppy water arrives after a period of constant rapid growth. As your company evolves, it will become more complex, and you cannot run a company with 500 people the same way you ran a company with 10 people in it.
Change is a constant, anticipate it, and make each change your own and emphasize positive and constructive change at your company. While your company changes, keep the team comfortable with change, by emphasizing the inevitable nature of change, and your responsibility to manage it situationally so that you are riding on top of the waves of change, not getting beaten across the forehead by each wave until you’re drowning.
They say that there is no substitute for preparation. I agree wholeheartedly and say this: Perfect preparation allows for perfect execution. Prepare with a passion. Be personal about your planning and preparation. Teach everyone in your organization to prepare in advance, every time, and to be ready for any possibility.
If you anticipate any possibility, you will be better able to handle any inevitability. In high-risk situations think through your back-up or fall-back plan, just in case. You usually won’t need it, but if you’ve gotten in the habit of preparing for anything, you will be able to execute in a crisis with much more confidence the 1 time out of 10 when the weather gets nasty.
From day one, make sure that every member of the team knows that the hallmark of greatness is a mental toughness that owns up to problems, solutions, results, and keeping your humor and your cool when the going gets rough. Don’t allow anyone to give up, ever!
The company motto should be something like “We never, never, never give up. We fight for our customer to the last!” or “We expect miracles here daily. The impossible will take a bit longer. Thanks for your patience!” There is never a reason to quit or to give up.
10) Step by Step
Too many people set their sights on an epiphany or a gigantic breakthrough. Don’t fall into that trap. The path to great sustainable results is paved with lots of little stones. Encourage your team to go for a long succession of small victories, rather than a gigantic, high-risk high-reward victory.
If you line up 100 victories in a row, they will multiply and magnify one another, and each one, while perhaps being small, will stack on top of the one that came before. After ascending all 100, when you look back, you will feel as if you are looking back from the Stairway To Heaven.
Take small risks to determine which types of efforts will work, then increase your bets when you are investing again in winning tactics. Be a momentum investor with your company, and be vigilant, watching for any sign that your winning tactics are going to lose their steam.
Well, what do you think? How did our 10 great strategic elements turn out? What’s missing? What do you disagree with? I’d love to spur a nice discussion about great strategy, and how to make a company bullet-proof.
Leave a comment below about your thoughts about a winning strategy and email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you our 25 Best Practices around Strategic Planning. Thanks for stopping by!