Based on our experience and research over the past ten years at CMOE, we have come to the conclusion that eighty percent in the work force focus their time and efforts on achieving immediate results. This is not necessarily a bad thing. However, to ensure the long-term sustained growth and competitive advantage for the firm, it is our bold assertion that everyone in the organization must play on the strategy field. Too many people feel that strategy is better left to senior management, or that it is not their role to worry about the long-term viability of the firm. Far too many people get hung up and are frequently intimidated with the notion of long-term strategy. They think it means developing a five-to-ten year plan when, in fact, for most of us long-term means a few months, a year, or three years at the very most. The fact is, the future is simply “tomorrow,” and everyone has to be prepared to capture opportunities and avert hazards regardless of the time frame or the position you occupy in the organization. With this in mind, I will outline five reasons why everyone should be interested in, and working to create, strategic priorities and results.
- Traction The only way a business will succeed over the long-term is by getting traction on big ticket strategic priorities and initiatives. Everyone in the organization should ask themselves this question: “How do I contribute to moving the needle on the organization’s strategic agenda?” We like to call this your personal strategic concept.
- Job Security Members of the organization cannot simply assume that their future is automatically secure. Everyone has to take a certain amount of responsibility for their own long-term job security as well as the security of the business. If you want to be relevant to the firm you work for, you have to be an active ingredient in shaping the future. You have to adapt, change, scan the environment, and figure out how you can add value to the business down the road and not just in this calendar year’s performance plan.
- Customer Value It may not seem like it to some people, but we all serve customers and stakeholders. Frequently, we think of customers as the buyers or consumers of the firm’s goods and services, but in reality we all have internal customers. In fact, we all play in the internal market place of the firm, if you will, supplying benefits and creating value through our services and labor to the firm. In a sense, each person is a supplier in the company’s value chain of activities. This means we have to think about the customer needs today, but more importantly, what the customer will need tomorrow. In fact, we may want to think about who our new internal customers will be in the future and if the current customers will disappear because of the natural shifts in the business.
- New Technology We all live and operate in the rapidly-changing Technology Age. Everyone in the firm is affected by new advances and breakthroughs. This suggests that people at all levels of the business should be on the lookout for new ideas, new applications, and new uses for technologies that will help your organization be more effective, reduce costs, improve overall service and quality, and enhance innovation in your part of the business. Frankly, the same can be said for scanning the horizon for shifts in regulatory, environmental, legal, and other types of changes that could positively or negatively impact your part of the business in the future..
- Improved Efficiencies If you view your role or function as an enterprise in itself, you would be asking very fundamental questions: “How can I do more with less?” “How can I reduces cost and improve efficiency in the future?” If everyone on your team is on the look-out and working toward this aim, you would have the attention and admiration of every decision maker. Every business wants to improve their margins and drive efficiencies. If you can envision ways to do that now or in the future, you reduce the risk of obsolesce.
The point is you cannot run on autopilot. You have to be more than a part or piece of someone else’s high, overarching strategy. You have to create strategic priorities in your own area or job. You have to drive strategy at a personal level that is linked or aligned to the overall business direction. In short, you have to be a creative, strategic force in your own right. Everyone in the organization needs to ask themselves these questions: “What is my big strategic play?” “How can I help the organization prepare for future challenges?” “How can I help avert and steer around the turbulence and obstacles that lie ahead?” When every individual does this, they add to a pool of competitive advantages for the whole organization. It requires awareness, observance, attention and discernment – notice where the organization is heading, where the industry is moving, where your customers are going. Doing so will provide the clues and insights that you need to formulate the opportunities outside of your normal, daily routine and immediate responsibilities, objectives, and assignments. It does mean a little extra work and a little extra thought. It means reserving some time and investing some resources as you prepare for the future, even at the individual worker level. When everyone is playing on the strategic field, all kinds of exciting things can happen such as new innovations, delighted customers, motivated employees and better results. It doesn’t get much better than that!