Every organization’s strategy needs regular updating regardless of how successful it’s been.
It’s simply not good enough to develop a strategy and put it on the shelf, expecting that it will work indefinitely.
They always need to be looking for and recording the factors that have changed since the last version of the plan was crafted. The business environment involves dynamics that are relentless and unpredictable and it’s better to be prepared for them by proactively renewing the strategy every year.
The growth objective, target customer groups and competitive claim must be validated given current circumstances. Markets and competitors change rapidly and it is vital that what any claim made regarding market uniqueness is still relevant and true.
Concentrate on the critical few objectives and action plans that are necessary to execute the strategy. Avoid the pitfall of many organizations that think it’s a brainstorming exercise where the more objectives that can be defined, the more effectively the plan can be implemented.
The reality is that if there are too many things to do, none will be achieved particularly well. Define the minimum number of objectives that will see 80% of the strategy achieved. Apply scarce resource only to the issues that will yield renewal success so figure out a handful of things to do and get on with it. Attack the critical few not the possible many.
3. Modify business processes
Business processes must be analyzed and modified to be compatible with the renewed direction.
Don’t assume existing processes will work; they were created to execute the old plan not the renewed version.And if cost reductions are required, do the process change FIRST; cutting costs without changing the WAY business is conducted could impair how customers are served.
4. CUT The CRAP
Strategy is just as much about NOT doing things as it is about choosing a new direction. Once the renewal path has been determined, eliminate the projects and activities that are no longer a priority but simply drain the organization of time and energy.
Most organizations have difficulty doing this; they relentlessly hang on to the comfortable activities of the past and wonder why they can’t make headway on their new course.
There is simply not sufficient bandwidth to continue with the past and adopt a new set of priorities for the future. Assign a CUT the CRAP Champion for the organization and charge them with the task of cleansing the internal environment of things that are not consistent with the renewal plan.
5. Plan on the run
Don’t get fooled into believing that the renewed strategy will go as planned. It won’t. There are always unforeseen events that happen and execution elements that fall short of expectations and adjustments to the plan will have to be made “on the run”. Avoid sticking to the original course when the evidence proves its a lost cause. Develop a handful of key performance metrics and examine progress at least monthly (in times of turbulent change, weekly monitoring may be in order).
Learn from ongoing results and adjust the plan accordingly. The plan on the run formula: plan – execute – learn – adjust – execute – learn – adjust… Amazing organizations build constant strategic renewal into their culture and rely on it as their competitive advantage.
Roy Osing is a former President and CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience covering all the major business functions including business strategy, marketing, sales, customer service and people development. He is a blogger, content marketer, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead.
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