Being successful with any endeavor requires a sound strategy.
In your mind, you probably have a clear picture of where you’re going; but unless you have a team of mind readers, having a well-thought-out strategy development process will help prevent you and your team members from getting lost and taking unnecessary (and often, very costly) detours.
Chances are good that you are already aware of the importance of having a strong strategy, one that will lead you to success. The bigger questions are how do you develop a meaningful strategy, and how do you get your team on board?
That’s where we can help you. At CMOE, we spend our days helping leaders at all levels of the business improve and enhance the performance of their teams and organizations through the development of strong, meaningful strategies—and we’re happy to share a few tips that will help you create a strategy that your team can really get behind. We also invite you to call us or read our new book, The Art of Strategic Leadership, for more information on this subject.
Tip #1: Do the work.
There are plenty of agencies for hire that you can use to create multiple types of development strategies for you without you doing a thing. This option may be tempting, as the effort and time it takes to conduct the needed research, crunch the numbers, and hold focus groups won’t be your burden to bear, strictly speaking.
However, as convenient it may be to have a total outsider develop a strategy for you, the downside is huge: You won’t truly “own” your strategy because someone else did all the work for you. When you and your team members devote your own time and effort to developing a great strategy, you will be proud to claim ownership of the end result because it will be the fruit of your own labor. Being actively involved in the development of your strategy will make it more meaningful to you and your team and will lead to a greater level of personal commitment to seeing the strategy through.
Tip #2: Include your team in developing the strategy.
As a leader, you should take the reins in terms of developing your strategy, but it’s vitally important that you include and collaborate with the other members of your team throughout the process.
If you want your team to fully support you and the strategy that you ultimately develop, allowing them the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas will make your strategy more meaningful to them and inspire them to take personal responsibility for its success.
Including others in the strategy-development process can be challenging and may lead to some disagreements. However, if you choose to be open-minded and courageously confront issues head on, your strategy will be better for it in the long run.
Tip #3: Dream big, but be realistic.
Some fantastic, successful ideas have originated from dreams and resulted in inspirational strategies, but it’s important to be realistic and keep overblown fantasies in check. You can reach for the moon, but you also need to make sure that your strategy can actually be executed. What a waste it would be if you were to develop an awesome strategy that ends up being shelved because it isn’t actionable.
The best way to know whether your strategy can actually be executed is by engaging employees in the discussion and allowing them to voice their concerns. This will provide insight into whether your strategic planning is flawed and will also give you the opportunity to fine tune areas of the strategy that could be problematic before any issues arise.
Tip #4: Openly communicate your strategy.
Once your strategy is developed, everyone in your organization should know about it. Your vision and mission should be clear and easily understood by every team member. However, keep in mind that the key here is not only to have your employees be able to repeat your strategy back to you, but for them to really understand it and be able to clearly and succinctly explain the “why’s” and “how’s” of the strategy to anyone who asks.
Your employees need to understand and internalize the reasoning behind the strategy so that they know there is real meaning behind your words and the actions they will be expected to take. By ensuring that everyone knows and understands your strategy, you can be more confident that everyone in the organization will be working together and heading down the same path.
Learning how to develop your own strategy, including your team in the strategic planning process, being realistic about your end goals and how you’re going to get there, and communicating with your employees are all important aspects of creating a meaningful strategy, but there is so much more you can learn about how to make these methods work for you. Building an actionable, meaningful strategic development process is no simple task, and these four pointers are really just the tip of the iceberg—but we do hope they’ll be of some use to you as you get started.
CMOE assists clients around the world in improving their performance and becoming more competitive. Since 1978, we have developed hundreds of organizational initiatives in partnership with our clients across the globe, and we’d love to work with you to take your organization to the next level. Contact us or read our book, The Art of Strategic Leadership, for more information and to dive deeper into the fascinating world of strategic thought, action, and leadership.