“The first thing I will do as CEO is build a new strategic plan.”
I have heard this many times from people who assume the role of a leader in an organization, or those who feel their organization is struggling. There is this automatic reflex – to build a new strategy – that many people respond with when an organization is under new management, or if there is some sense of misdirection or staleness to an organization.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Often times, the last thing an organization needs is a new strategy.
Having said that, I am not prescribing aimless and directionless ebbing and flowing of focus from activity to activity. No, what I am suggesting is that sometimes you may need to step back and assess where you are and determine if there are some items that need to get done so that your organization can handle a new strategy.
When You Need a New Strategy
There are two critical prerequisites, in my humble opinion, for a strategy to be successful: the first is that the organizational foundations are strong enough to successfully implement a robust strategy; and, second that you have a team that you feel will support and buy-into the strategy. Without either of those, one can build the most incredible and awesome strategy, but it will fail. Because the organization just isn’t ready or capable.
Strategies take a lot of work to prepare, and even more to execute. If the organization has challenges, it is imperative to address those first. If the organization has weak foundations, it is better to shore those up first. Don’t tackle something that you know you can’t succeed in – dig into other priorities, burning platforms or foundations that will enable you to then be successful in implementing your strategy.
Alternatively, if people on the team would not likely get behind a new strategy, or the culture isn’t capable of pulling it off, it is likely destined for failure. Take the time to pause and get the team and culture in a state of preparedness to tackle a new strategy.
My previous post outlined the way to assess your organization to determine its health, status and place on the journey to remarkability. You will glean a lot from that assessment – what is working, what is not and what are some things that should be considered. Use this assessment to ask yourself: is my organization in need of a new strategy, and if so, is it capable of building and implementing one successfully?
The answers to these questions will determine your path. If the path points you to a new strategy, by all means head onto that path and build something remarkable. If the path points you to needing to do some pre-work before doing a new strategy, consider building what I call a Remarkability Agenda.
The Remarkability Agenda
The Remarkability Agenda can be considered your plan in the absence of an existing strategy. As noted above, I am not prescribing aimless work. The Agenda will enable you to create a clear and concise set of actions and targets to achieve on the route to being a strong enough organization to build and execute a strategy.
The assessment you have done based on the work of my previous post will give you insight into how the organization is performing, and where its weak spots are in terms of needing change and renewal. The matrix that I provide as a template, and discussed in Making Remarkable, lays out the core of a Remarkability Agenda.
The Remarkability Agenda is a clear plan-on-a-page that outlines what you need to do to get your organization aligned towards achieving remarkability. It should be supported by the data you have gathered, collected and analyzed in order to develop the Agenda.
The Agenda lays out the elements of remarkability that need work, what you feel the priority order is, the required resources, accountability, partners, key risks, and other pertinent information that you and your board will be able to use to assess whether this Agenda should be approved. Once it has been approved, it serves as the guide for actions, investments, allocation of resources and the way to evaluate performance. With it approved, you should feel confident that you are on the path to remarkability and that at some point, when you feel it is capable, the organization can take on a strategy for new opportunities.