Is strategy one of the most overused words in business? Possibly. So using this as the starting block, I want to make a point about how many “strategies” you have in your organization. This is largely about seeing the forest through the trees. If strategy didn’t have so many definitions it would be easier to pin it down!
Here’s the point: While you may have a plethora of sub-strategies (marketing, pricing, client, growth, etc…) your organization should have a single strategy that is directing you toward increased competitive advantage in a defined market.
If everyone is fixated on the sub-strategy but can’t see the linkage to the overarching strategy, it’s as dangerous as not having one. In fact, more dangerous than having a clear overarching strategy but no alignment, if I had to choose.
Make certain that everyone sees THE strategy, before they start building THEIR sub-strategy.
Change does not happen without accountability. It just doesn’t. However, beyond these things we normally talk about like defining crystal clear outcomes, accountability etc… the reality is that change requires something else to happen. It requires something to draw focus to it on a regular basis.
Why? Because it resists ingrained habits, and that’s a tough one.
So when you think about change…
YES: Define a crystal clear picture of what it looks like
YES: Determine how you’ll measure incremental improvement
But also YES: What is going to draw focus to it, so that regular attention is paid to this accountability?
What is going to cause employees to align to the new competencies you have defined as critical?
What is going to keep you going to the gym after the first month?
What is going to make sure the budget decisions align with strategy when push comes to shove?
This is often where the battles are won and lost. So before you make any subconscious check-marks, consider what it’s going to take to overcome your ingrained habits 3 months from now.
Seth Godin blogged this back in August 2011, I still refer to it now and then. It’s some good stuff.
The warning signs of defending the status quo
When confronted with a new idea, do you:
•Consider the cost of switching before you consider the benefits?
•Highlight the pain to a few instead of the benefits for the many?
•Exaggerate how good things are now in order to reduce your fear of change?
•Undercut the credibility, authority or experience of people behind the change?
•Grab onto the rare thing that could go wrong instead of amplifying the likely thing that will go right?
•Focus on short-term costs instead of long-term benefits, because the short-term is more vivid for you?
•Fight to retain benefits and status earned only through tenure and longevity?
•Embrace an instinct to accept consistent ongoing costs instead of swallowing a one-time expense?
•Slow implementation and decision making down instead of speeding it up?
•Embrace sunk costs?
•Imagine that your competition is going to be as afraid of change as you are? Even the competition that hasn’t entered the market yet and has nothing to lose…
•Emphasize emergency preparation at the expense of a chronic and degenerative condition?
•Compare the best of what you have now with the possible worst of what a change might bring?
Calling it out when you see it might give your team the strength to make a leap.