How Do You Know If You Are On the Right Track Strategically?

by Janice Giannini

How Do You Know If You Are On the Right Track Strategically?

When technology and societal priorities are rapidly changing, the conversation frequently arises "is our strategy relevant and successful?"

There isn't a standard quiz that can give you a grade of A, B, C, or F to answer that question. Instead, there are several lenses to view the effectiveness and relevance of your strategy and execution.

Conversational lenses to consider:

  • Are your goals clear? Do you have a strategy? Do most voices understand it well enough to speak it and fully support it?
  • How well do you understand the risks of the changing conditions in the marketplace that influence a strategy and can pivot as necessary? What are the conditions under which you redirect? When do you wait it out?
  • Are your values clear, fully represented in your strategy, and is your leadership style consistent and supportive of those values and plans? If ethics and game-plan don't align, it can create chaos in an organization.
  • Under what conditions do you exhibit conflicting priorities and expect others to deal with them?
  • Is the senior leadership team as effective as it needs to be? Or are they good in their sphere, but lacking the insight and ability to cooperate fully in the company's best interest? Are they rewarded for that cooperation?
  • How effective is coordination across the company/organization? Do people fully understand the current state and desired state? If you assume an individual makes ten decisions a day, if they don't understand the strategic goals and plan, there is a significant probability they will make the wrong choice half the time. Is that ok?
  • Are you investing enough in leadership development? It has been argued for decades whether leadership is innate or developable. Some are innate. Many are teachable. Is this a fluff expense, or do you consider it an investment in your future? Can you achieve your stretch goals if the leadership team isn't growing faster than your goals?
  • Is there enough vertical communication? If the leaders of an organization are not effectively communicating across and down the entire team, you are asking people to "defend something with one hand tied behind their back." Why? That is hard to do! They will be hugely more effective if they have two hands!

I hear from some leaders that this all sounds great, but we are so busy, we don't have the time.

If you observe successful athletes, they set themselves up for success before even walking onto the field/stage. But, unfortunately, we don't see that part.

I want to share a straightforward example. I take voice lessons. I sang whatever the coach instructed me to sing when I first started. He coached, and we stopped and started as necessary. In my mind, I was maximizing the amount of instruction and insight I was gaining in each lesson because I was singing most of the time. As I matured, I understood that my singing was so much better if I took the time to align my vocal instrument and my breathing. Am I singing a little less in each session? Yes, I am. But the quality of the result and my return on investment of my time is enormous.

Is your strategic instrument aligned? If it would be aligned, might your ROI be significantly higher? For example, consider that a slightly less robust, well-executed strategy may net higher results and ROI than a more aggressive plan not effectively implemented.