It is no secret that 2023 is coming at us fast. If you want to be a proactive leader and create a winning team and strategy, now is the time to start focusing on a forward-looking direction and identifying strategic priorities. Here are 5 things you can do to get started now.
1. Carve Out Some Time
A Bloomberg study found that the time spent on planning ahead or strategizing has declined to single digits – 9%. This means for the remainder of this year, you can’t be shy about delegating some tasks, reprioritizing tasks, or outright eliminating some that won’t create much value. Allocate this freed time for thinking about and planning for the future. This practice certainly requires some discipline because of the sheer number of day-to-day demands, but without being more mindful, extra time for strategic thinking and planning will be filled with other operational distractions. You need to set boundaries and block some time on your schedule to contemplate priorities and plans for 2023 before it is too late.
2. Scan for Opportunities and Challenges
With the reflection time you have created, scan your business environment, and identify near term or longer-term opportunities and challenges. Keep in mind that practical strategy is a team sport, so get the perspective of your team members about the biggest obstacles or looming challenges your organization and team will have to cope with in 2023. Then, ask them to share their perspectives about hidden opportunities that might be within reach in the new year.
3. Define the Direction and Priorities
Our goals are constantly changing and evolving. So, as you begin preparing a strategy for 2023, define where you want to be and what you and your team will need to accomplish using the information you gathered in your scan for opportunities and challenges. Simply thinking about the long term isn’t enough. You must clearly define a strategic direction and priorities that will shape the future you desire and allow you to stay relevant. You might start with three goals that will provide direction for the work of your team. If you haven’t done a lot of strategic thinking and planning in the past, just focus on 2023 and start building a better future bit by bit, year by year.
4. Communicate and Align
Bring the team together (virtually or in-person) and begin a dialogue about the strategic vision and plan you are formulating so your team can internalize what needs to be done and begin aligning their own goals, activities, and thinking. By taking this step to communicate your strategy, you are able to bring your team together under one vision and purpose.
5. Build a Plan of Action
Effectively executing on strategies, changes, new ideas, and goals requires more than just a compelling idea or plan. To make real progress towards the results you desire—and that the organization needs—you and your team must have the right mindset and execution plan. The combination of actions, behaviors, and processes is what makes execution come to life and produce value-added outcomes. Once you have defined and communicated the strategic direction and priorities, create a plan of action with specific steps and expectations. This will enable your team to start the year strong and work towards your strategy step by step. Complexity can be the death of plans, so put a simple timeline together with the “must have resources” along with roles, assignments, and key milestones.
6. Make Strategy Part of the Routine
In order to make strategy a priority, you must make a long-term commitment. Regularly talk about strategic work and keep it at the front of people’s minds. Establish the expectation that everyone will need to make some tangible strategic contributions to the business or organization. To mobilize your strategy and sustain the effort, set up your first “results forum” at the end of February to review progress, tweak plans, pinpoint problems, and maintain accountability. With consistent dialogue throughout the new year, there will be greater accountability for generating some tangible results for the organization.
Remember, be agile, learn, and adjust as you go. Simplicity and consistency are the keys to gaining traction and being a proactive strategic leader in the upcoming year.
If Strategic Thinking and Strategic Leadership is new to you or is a leadership competency you would like to sharpen, explore CMOE’s strategy products and services.