Developing an effective business strategy can be complex and requires a unique skill set.
Senior leaders and top executives are responsible for creating an organization’s overarching strategy and the strategic thinking is often left up to them.
After all, they are the leaders with the most knowledge and experience. They need to drive long term success by creating and leveraging new sources of competitive advantage.
They have to anticipate changes, opportunities, and challenges in order to create a flexible, sustainable plan. All of these things are true, but it is this knowledge that creates and supports the myth that strategic thinking is only for senior leadership.
In a recent article, Develop Strategic Thinkers Throughout Your Organization, Robert Kabacoff (Harvard Business Review: February 7, 2014) reported that 10,000 senior executives were asked to select the leadership behavior that was most critical to their organizations’ future success.
Ninety-seven percent chose strategic as the behavior that was needed. According to those “responsible” for creating strategy, it is everyone’s job to think strategically in order to align with the strategic direction set by senior leaders and push the strategy throughout the entire organization every day.
“Losers live in the past. Winners learn from the past and enjoy working in the present toward the future.” – Denis Waitley
The concept of “everyday strategy” is more than a trend. It is becoming increasingly valuable within organizations. Specifically, everyday strategy is applying the concepts and skills of strategy creation to everyday situations.
Thinking strategically on a daily basis about routine operational tasks is a great way to maximize efficiency. It requires the quick process of learning from the past, defining future intentions, and acting on a plan. This method could be as simple as diagnosing important and urgent situations or it could be as complicated as defining what success looks like. Here is a list of questions or thoughts that might be included in an everyday strategy approach:
- Which of the 20 things I have on my list today are the most crucial to complete?
- Has anyone asked the customer what the issue is?
- Do we have enough resources to take on this job?
- Are we prepared to handle an increase in sales?
- How can we be more efficient with our current processes?
The bottom line is this: Successful organizations need every team, leader, and individual in the organization to create and execute their own stand-alone strategies that parallel the business’ strategic process. You have a choice to make: you can look toward the future and take responsibility for strategic opportunities and problems that arise in the business environment, or you can bury your head in the sand and hope that the future will be kind. But hope is never a strategy.