“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?”
Henry David Thoreau
A good strategy is a roadmap for your organization. It offers clarity for better decision making – a framework for who you are, where you are going, and how you will get there. There are so many important things to take into consideration when preparing your strategy. Here are just a few thoughts.
1. Start where you are.
Do the work to understand where you stand right now. Gauge what progress you have made on any previous plans. Get feedback on what you want to stop, start and continue going forward. And generate open, safe discussion to hear different perspectives. Give people the space to express what matters to them and why. From there you can decide what to keep and what to let go.
2. Make time for reflection.
Busy does not equal productive. It just means you have very little time for thinking and reflection, both of which are crucial to assessing and developing strategy. Jerry Seinfeld credits meditation with helping him get to the top and developing the energy, creativity, resilience and focus to stay at the top. Without time and space for strategic thinking, you will have very little organization and efficiency. You need constant, careful rethinking to respond appropriately to opportunities as they arise.
3. Know when to say no.
Yes, there are always new opportunities on the horizon, but how do you know when and why to say no? When you understand your purpose – as an individual, team or organization – you have a critical framework for great decision making. When you say no to those things that take you off course, you conserve energy and resources for the work that is a hell, yes! – the work that can really take you leaps and bounds toward your vision. Steve Jobs understood the power of no – the importance of appreciating all the possibilities but only committing to those one or two that will really lead the company forward.
4. Ask for help.
Good strategy includes outside perspectives from key stakeholders, clients, partners and employees. You are not alone in this. Fresh insight from others can help generate new ideas, opportunities or challenges you may have missed. They can also help you learn more about your strengths and the key elements of your product or service that delight your customers.
Okay, so I’m going to go out on a limb here and say communication is the most important element of strategy. Make sure everyone has an opportunity to provide honest input into the plan. Let them know they are heard and that their ongoing feedback is important. Share the vision widely, with employees, potential clients, partners and stakeholders…the world! Help them get excited to be part of something special.
When embarking on your strategy, try to come from a place of curiosity – you want to understand as much as you can from as many key players as possible. Be present and welcoming to new ideas, listen deeply to learn and withhold any judgment.
By creating a roadmap based in good two-way communication, you develop strong, trusting relationships that will help you build resilience, so when challenges do arise (and they will), your team can move through them more quickly, together.