I've helped senior leaders and executive teams realize their organizations' goals and ambitions and make their visions and strategies come true since 2002.
And something that I've learned along the way is that more often than not, these goals, ambitions, and visions need to be clearly expressed, discussed, and aligned upon with your top team.
Many leadership teams are, well maybe not completely dysfunctional, but they are not really aligned either, even if they think they are.
Many executive teams lack a productive working atmosphere, a clear picture of their joint strategic priorities, and the energy to pursue these priorities jointly. Wouldn't you agree?
As a result, in most leadership teams, individual members focus on their functional areas only, not taking responsibility for the strategy and future of the organization. Daily operations always win over working on strategic initiatives.
To start 2021 strong, here are three recommendations.
A couple of years ago, I developed a short "strategy quiz" (you can read more about that here) for a client at the start of a series of strategic conversations. The results of that quiz made the team aware that they were not aligned on a strategy, hell, they didn't even align on what a strategy is! Some thought they had a strategy, yet others didn't. But they had never discussed these implicit assumptions. How can you expect to reach your organization's ambitions, if you're not even clear about strategic priorities? Does that feel familiar to you?
Many organizations think that a two-day strategy workshop is all they need to come up with and align on a strategy. The hard truth though is that a two day offsite won't do! Yes, you can start the discussion, yes you might leave the retreat all jazzed up and energized and maybe feeling like you're aligned. But on Monday morning, all will be forgotten...believe me...I've seen this happen all too often.
The solution? Commit to regular strategy work. Kick it off with a 1 or 2 day offsite if you want. Then in the initial 100 days, plan a strategy meeting once per week. I suggest at least 1/2 day.
After that, depending on your business's dynamics and how well the strategy work is going, a monthly meeting might be enough.
Some of you might be thinking, "well we don't have the time for that"! But shouldn't this be what your executive team spends its time on? Don't you have 1/2 day per week to think about the strategy of your organization? If your executives are too much involved in the daily operations and fire fighting, that fact alone warrants the investment to think about strategy. A priority should be to raise the maturity of your organization so that employees can handle those daily operations, and executives can focus on strategy at least some of their time. Wouldn't you agree?
A client I had the opportunity to work with, committed to regular, monthly strategy days, and saw revenues double within 12 months!
Many studies on strategy and innovation have shown that a structured and facilitated process yields better results. Make sure that if you're making the time investment of your executives, it is worthwhile.