In my previous article, we discussed how strategic intent answers Why?, how strategic objectives answer What?, and how tactics answer How?. The trouble comes when strategic objectives and executional tactics are developed without answering the Why question first. This is a classic mistake, but one that can be avoided.
How to Answer Why?
Create a set of decision criteria by defining the core elements that naturally drive your company forward. This is your Why. These are the guidelines that are often underdeveloped when evaluating a potential project or strategy.
Your values should not change over time if they are authentic to the company. Otherwise stated, if you are not lying to yourself when you define your values, they will ring true as long as your company exists.
Your company values should represent the executive team you have assembled to date. These values are a natural part of your company’s DNA. This means that your leadership team will act accordingly even if they won’t be rewarded for their behavior or when no one will see their actions. When your values are reflected in all your future projects and new hires, the values of the company will hold true over time. This type of consistency will result in a powerful company filled with people who are motivated.
Identify who the decision makers and decision influencers are in your target audience. Once you understand who they are, figure out what they need, if their needs are being met by the competition, and if you are honestly capable of meeting their needs.
Over time, you will continue to refine these segments of your target audience and identify the most profitable segments to pursue. As you gain insight with experience, even the way your target segments are grouped will also likely evolve beyond basic decision-making titles and into a more psychological delineation. This will help you effectively target the most profitable groups and choose projects that will serve them. Without this definition, how can anyone hope to make the right decision about a project?
If everyone is on the same page, you still need to get them all moving forward. Creating a goal that is difficult to reach is an effective tool to motivate your staff to attain new levels of achievement.
The big goal should motivate a plan for developing all the short-term and long-term projects needed to ensure you reach it. It should also be used as a guideline to evaluate every aspect of your organization.
This one is a powerful motivator as well. By uncovering your organization’s purpose, you’ll energize all those who share it. You can think of it as the reason you all show up for work every day. It’s much more motivating for the entire staff to operate from a meaningful purpose rather than perform solely for cash. Multiple studies demonstrate that a paycheck alone will rarely carry you through the rough spots a company will face in the long term.
Defining your organization’s core purpose clearly is an effective tool in motivating your staff to reach for new levels. It should also serve as a guide for evaluating all decisions and new innovations and projects for every area within your company.
I facilitated this exercise for a virtual company at one point. They were relatively successful already but wanted to reach new heights. Once we nailed their core purpose, the executive staff couldn’t sit still. Within minutes, all of them were standing up and walking around the room; excited conversations were breaking out all over. A camaraderie they never anticipated was formed immediately, and the physical distance between them in real life became much smaller in their minds. They understood they actually had a sort of brotherhood that was forged around a common driver. Needless to say, morale, productivity, and profit increased.
Unique Differentiator (Position in the Market)
Positioning your company in the market is one of the most crucial guidelines for the success of your business. It’s worth spending some time on.
The positioning statement builds the bridge between the needs of your buyer and who you are as an organization. It positions you in your market so that you are entirely different from your competition and remain deeply meaningful to your audience.
It ensures that choosing your company is an easy decision for your potential customers.
Positioning is crucial because it identifies the place in the market where you can dominate. It should guide all aspects of your company so that everyone remains focused on maintaining the position you can own.
Once you are confident in your positioning, the next step is to evaluate every project you may consider.
If your audience/buyer changes (or their needs change), if your competition changes their positioning, or if issues and trends change in your industry, you’ll need to revisit this statement. It should be crafted to last a long period of time; however, this is a fast-paced world, and change is rapid. Revisit this annually.
Decision-making often has under-utilized aspects. I hope this list will help you defy the all-too-common lack of success in projects. Please contact me for more information. At Vision Platform, we believe work shouldn’t be a considered a four-letter word and we’re hoping to change that.
Ensure your company develops these elements and shares them companywide. This is a brilliant resistance. Let’s start the business revolution.
Want to learn more from Shari? Check out her recent webinar below to hear more about a rebellious approach to strategic planning!