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The Foundation Of Great Strategies

No matter how much you admire your house after its built, if the foundation is weak and its shape is not ideal, the house will not stand for long, it won’t function the way you want it to, and it will cost a lot more than you planned to build it and keep it functioning. 

Strategies are a lot like that. Without great foundations under them, they become admirable goals that will fail to deliver the results that they could, and cost more to achieve and sustain than they should. Keep in mind that the foundation is not the strategy; it makes strategies possible. Your strategic objectives are also not the strategies; they are the goals of the strategies.  

In our experience, great strategies have three fundamental characteristics: 

  • They are Ambitious. They take you beyond the boundaries of your self-limiting beliefs about what is possible.  When appropriate, they are not afraid to take you beyond what is “practical.” When your assessment of possibilities uncovers exciting opportunities, your strategies should focus on quantum rather than incremental goals.
  • They are Creative.They address doing/achieving new things. Or they have you doing old things in new ways. They do not allow you to fall into the trap of dismissing potentially lucrative opportunities by offering up the lazy rejection of “we tried that before, it didn’t work.”
  • They are Executable.This one is the most important. Your ability to execute is the foundation of a solid strategy. It is a place from which you can create the tactical actions that align your ability to execute with the human and capital resources that you either have or can acquire. Brilliant execution defines you. Anything less is just conversation.  

Strategies are more executable when your organization is well balanced– meaning that your strategies:

  • Are aligned with your values– the ones that you live. Hopefully they are the same ones you proclaim. If they’re not – trouble lies ahead. 
  • Take into account the skills and subject matter expertise needed to do what it takes to achieve your strategic goals. And if you don’t have the needed skills in house, that you include plans for acquiring those resources. 
  • Align with your cultural norms and behaviors. Peter Drucker said: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”He was right. If you devise strategiesthat don’t correlate with the cultural norms, the style and the behaviors that your people exhibit in attempting to execute your strategies, you will never fully achieve your goals. Or you might achieve them, but at a much higher cost in time and resources than you anticipated. When that happens, morale and enthusiasm invariably suffer.

More on each of these elements of balance in our upcoming posts. 

By Bill Leider, Managing Partner, Axíes Group

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