Many businesses face regular challenges of some form or another. Some are extreme and very rare, for example the unexpected departure of a CEO or the loss of a major contract. Others are more frequent, for example constant competitor pressure, challenging internal effectiveness and achieving poorer commercial results than expected.
Whilst acknowledging that a bi-annual strategy review process cannot address all such things directly; we believe that well-formed, and informed strategy, which is reviewed regularly by the leadership team, can help enable the organisation to respond and cope with these kinds of challenges.
This is because strategy is all about choices, priorities and alignment that constantly evolve and develop. As a result, strategy development and execution is a fluid and dynamic process responding to an ever changing environment. It is a process that should live and breathe and in doing so provide the context and framework for daily challenges and issues to be tackled.
We’ve highlighted three things every organisation can do to better overcome challenges it will inevitably face at some point:
1. Understand the challenge, really
Understanding the ‘real’ problem, challenge or opportunity facing your business is critical –is the ‘cause’ operational, process, people, or a symptom of structural change in the market? Deeply analysing options, their relative position to evident market trends, the activity of your competition and the needs of your customers, together with cost benefit and implementation, will create clarity and lead to effective management and improved responsiveness.
2. Critically assess internal competencies
Understanding and investing in the competences that the business requires today and tomorrow in order to compete effectively is critical. And assessing these in a structured and systematic manner is an extremely valuable first step. Established and traditional competences may have sustained a company’s growth over many years but they may not enable future growth.
3. Excel at execution
Successful implementation is a combination of well-planned and communicated activity, that is continually measured, assessed and refined, and a highly engaged workforce who understand what they are trying to achieve and why.
Any ‘traditional notion’ that strategy and execution are somehow unconnected, or dislocated, can be clearly challenged through practical experience and common sense. This is perfectly summarised in the following anecdote from a recent strategy summit “Strategy will be adaptive and near-real-time – forget 5 year plans. The winning companies will be the fastest and the most agile.”
Successful companies of the future will align clear vision, regular reviews and self critique, combined with excellent responsiveness and communication skills to pursue both long term goals whilst at the same time responding to unplanned and unexpected challenges.