Bringing Strategy Back
You’ve probably heard the phrase “hire slow; fire fast.” No? Well, now you have. It’s a philosophy I subscribe to not only with hiring but also in overall business.
I started noticing a trend in business, and it’s one that makes me want to go postal, just like listening to my husband bite his nails. Seriously. One day, I’m going to snap.
The trend I’m talking about? Fleeting strategy.
When did strategy stop being a part of business planning? It’s like one day strategy realized it was working a job it hated, quit, walked out the door, and was never heard from again.
Yet, I’m over here like an ex-girlfriend pleading for strategy to please come back. I promise we can make it work. Just give me one more chance. It pains me to see so many people lacking in strategy personally and professionally and making decisions on the fly without taking into account the forever impact on them and their legacy.
Here’s a new trend to try on for size: Strategize slow, execute fast.
Five imperative steps to having a complete business strategy:
1. Define. The basics in writing a compelling fiction story are also the basics to defining your business strategy. Who, what, where, when, why, and how are the foundation and easiest way for you to begin building any kind of plan. Usually there are a few of the basics addressed, but a few tend to get left behind. If you can’t answer in a compelling way the who, what, where, when, why, and how of your next major business move, STOP! Do not pass go. Do not collect any money. Get your booty back to the basics, and start documenting the answers to the 5Ws and 1H.
2. Connect. After you have fully defined your plan, it’s time to connect to an even bigger Why. In everything you do (strategy, business planning, and goal setting), it’s imperative to connect it directly to your long-term vision for your business and the personal legacy you’re building. If you’ve never taken the time to even think about the legacy you’re building, it may be a big reason why you aren’t happy or thriving in all you do. Lead with your legacy. It’s the key to living right in your life each and every day. Want your strategy to strengthen tenfold? Connect the why directly to the legacy you wish to leave.
3. Postulate. Think through all that can go right and go wrong. Go crazy with your thoughts. Run through what post-execution looks like as a pessimist, realist, and optimist so you can identify and be prepared for all possibilities. Not good at being a pessimist? I bet you can think of a good friend who could help you out. 😉 Using forethought in your strategy process will save you multiple headaches down the road.
4. Test. Call it market research or polling your ideal client, but a strategy is useless without some preliminary testing. It’s useless to create something no one wants to buy or use. A well-rounded strategic approach includes gaining outside insights to gain a better awareness. Often, you’re too close to your own business to see some obvious mishaps in the making. When you allow others who you trust and respect into your strategic process, your business will benefit immensely. One caveat: You have to be open to hearing what they have to say. You don’t have to necessarily implement, but if you’re defensive in any way, don’t bother wasting their time or yours.
5. Re-define. Once you have all the above steps completed, you’re most likely going to uncover a few things that need to be changed. The number one area I see most businesses fail with strategy is they stick to the original plan no matter what. Stop biting your nails! Here’s a clue: Your first attempt at anything new is never going to be your best. If you refuse to redefine your strategy after learning opportunities for growth, you will fail. It’s that simple. You may not fail at first, you may not fail at all, but you will fail to be the best you could have been. To me, that is the biggest failure of all.
Once you’ve completed the five steps in a slow and calculated manner, it’s time to execute. Execution is where speed comes into play. There is no reason to delay implementation when you have taken the time to strategize thoroughly. Go. Do. Be fast about it. Remember – shift happens, and a perfect strategy accounts for this by being consistently evaluated and adjusted.