We have the privilege of working with the visionary CEO of a billion-dollar food production company. They have lead the industry for many years, but the CEO and his Senior Team know that what they have done in the past won’t necessarily make them successful in the future.
They find themselves in a demanding industry characterized by lower consumption, lower volume, price increase challenges, and cost challenges. They recognize the realities of their situation and know that they need all leaders and team members to actively think long-term, become more strategic in order to maintain competitive advantage, find new sources of competitive advantage, and sustain the organization’s long-term growth.
They are fully aware that the advantage and edge against their rivals must come from within their own organization, so they are working to better define their strategic platform, create supporting functional strategy, communicate it across the organization, and cascade it down through the organizational framework. They know that strategic leaders and a legion of strategic thinkers in the business are what will make the difference for their long-term viability.
Do you find that your organization is in the same situation and that people need to think more strategically, behave more strategically, and deliver strategic performance and results? It can be daunting to think about but we believe that strategy doesn’t have to be complicated. Organizations just have to figure out what it means to them, make it practical, and get to work on it.
Here are a few key considerations that we help our clients (including this CEO) grapple with that can serve as a launch point for you and your organization:
- Leaders over key functions in the organization need to have a functional strategy for their own products, market, or customers. This strategy needs to align and support the organization’s overarching strategy and be built around a practical framework or methodology that fits the organization’s culture and style.
- As leaders create strategy for their “business-within-the-business”, they need to be able to articulate what “better” looks like in the future in key areas such as customers, product lines, markets, geographies, the function itself, etc.
- Linking needs to occur between functional strategies where there are natural intersections in order to maximize strategic fit and synergy.
- Everyone in the organization needs to see how they can personally add strategic value and contribute to the functional and organization strategies.
- Accountability measures need to be in place for the strategies that leaders undertake so progress and results can be tracked and reported out. Additionally, regular follow-up needs to occur to ensure accountability for actual strategic outputs, deliverables, and accomplishments.
- Moving from a short-term, operational track to a strategic track requires finding ways to shed waste and inefficiencies and improve decision-making capabilities regarding how to spend time, energy, and resources.
- Strategy is most effective when there is a structured framework and organized discipline to go along with the action.
If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have the influence or ability to get things moving at the top end of your organization, don’t let that discourage you. Work on creating a strategic framework from where you sit in the organization.
Do this by developing your own strategic leadership capability, taking responsibility for creating a strategic direction for your part of the business, and communicating a strategic point of view about where you want to go to your team. Real strategic traction occurs when everyone knows how they can add strategic value within their own responsibility areas. You, too, can be a strategic visionary and an integral part of the organization’s long-term success.