What’s worse? Not knowing where you are? Or not knowing where you are going?
Neither is ideal. So how do you avoid this quandary? You need a strategy – a plan of action. I know…it sounds obvious. However, in my years in business I’ve observed a lot (from startups to multi-billion dollar Fortune firms)…organizations that ignore the importance of setting and communicating a strategy. Whether facing declining, flat or even increasing sales, an organization without a compass or direction will exist at the mercy of the environment – finding themselves somewhere they never expected to be. Some will course correct. Some will cruise along aimlessly until they run out of roadway or fuel. Others may suffer a much harsher fate…crashing and burning.
We are six months into our journey at Eleccion (ELX) after choosing our course carefully – beginning with “why”.
Not unlike Simon Sinek’s ‘Golden Circle’ idea, where he explains how inspired leaders and their organizations begin with why, we asked ourselves, “Why are we setting upon this journey? Then “what”. What is it that we do? Followed by “who”. Who do we want to be? And “how”. How do we get there? If you can answer these four fundamental questions, you have the basis for a strategic plan. A narrative that must be communicated throughout the organization (and not just at the senior level), repeated and refined when necessary. Let me repeat…when necessary – not “if or as”, but when. Because strategy is ever evolving. Planning is iterative. And execution is ongoing.
“Just win baby” may have worked for Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders in the 1970s, but I doubt that simple idiom will translate into successful wins for you and your business in the 21st century. In today’s hyper-competitive business environment, successful organizations apply intentional design thinking around their strategic approach.
For example, at ELX we use our Organizational Experimentation™ (OrgX) framework to develop and enable our strategic approach. Again, strategy is ever evolving – a state of being (a living, breathing thing). OrgX is a proactive structure for change. As your environment changes, your approach to strategic transformation must be iterative and allow for constant insertion of new ideas. By embracing fundamental concepts of strategic planning joined with design thinking, we took an unconventional approach to our overarching strategy development and how we go-to-market.
If you hop in your car and just start driving without directions you may eventually find yourself in a suitable destination…but how much time will you waste trying to get there via u-turns, wrong turns, and dead ends? Alternatively, if you start your journey with a compass – you may not always know exactly where you are, but you’ll certainly know where you’re going.
Craig Ridley is an enabling partner and co-founder of Eleccion, a next-generation management consulting firm providing advisory services to government and commercial organizations committed to making fundamental change improvement.