Strategic Thinking-Planning-Action – Derek Mair
“If you focus only on results you will never affect change; if you focus on change and Ngage your team in the process, measuring progress, you will achieve massive results”
– Derek Mair
Results however are not the only determination of success, which may be defined as, “The progressive realisation of a worthy ideal, or goal.” When you are working progressively, step-by-step toward something that is important to you, you generate within yourself a continuous feeling of success and achievement.
In business your top strategic objective that will determine success is to get the highest returns possible from you and your team’s investment of mental, emotional, and physical energy, therefore accountability and responsibility go hand-in-hand with success. This means working every day to generate and encourage the contribution of strategic insights, using those insights to set direction and then fiercely executing strategy with both mental agility and physical and emotional energy; perseverance.
If you’re not content accepting mediocrity, you must commit yourself and lead your team to becoming a better strategist in pursuit of excellence:
1. You cannot solve any problem with the same mindset that created the problem: Since thinking is hard work, it’s not uncommon for people to fall back on strategic planning in an attempt to shape the direction of their business. However, this ignores a crucial distinction—strategic thinking involves the generation of new insights—strategic planning involves the application of those insights into an action plan. Relying on strategic planning without ‘team involvement’ in strategic thinking is nonsensical because the essential thinking function has been ignored.
2. The Discipline to Say “No”: Strategy involves the intelligent allocation of limited resources. “Intelligent allocation” requires us to make trade-offs and focus those resources. Too often, because trade-offs involve risk, we take cover in the status quo and don’t make any trade-offs at all…The greatest tragedy in business and the very worst and most common miss use of time is to do something well that does not need to be done at all, it has no future significance, it’s not a priority or someone else could have ‘and should have’ done it instead.
3. Prepare to be a Strategist: Before you can develop great strategy, you first need to become a great strategist. Improved strategic thinking means that the business leaders will invest more resources in the right activities, (key strategic initiatives driving business efficiency) and fewer resources in the wrong activities, (concentrating only on urgent and important customer reactions), leading in theory and practice to greater revenue, profitability and productivity.
4. Have a clear focus: Not investing the time in a sound strategy development process led by a defined culture consisting of Vision, Values, Purpose, Policies, Procedures and Goals results in a dodgem car strategy—your business mindlessly changing direction each time it’s bumped into by a marketplace issue.
5. Ask the right questions:
What is our Intention? How will it make a difference? What might we focus our Attention on to achieve it? How can we measure progress? How will we know when we have achieved our Intention?”
6. Throw out the budget: One of the most entrenched practices in businesses of every size is to allow the budget to dictate the strategy. Constricting the creative strategy development process at the outset with a page of budget numbers can close off avenues that might fundamentally enhance the business in ways not previously explored.
7. Link the Strategic Plan to Action: One of the great ironies is that the business’s that do invest their time in strategy development often don’t have an effective way of then using that plan on a daily basis to drive the activities. They’ve invested time, energy and money into thinking that sets strong strategic direction, only to have that direction evaporate over the course of the year due to the “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” phenomenon.
8. Understand the importance of failure in relation to success: if you are not willing to fail greatly, you will never succeed greatly;
“Embrace the potential for failure and in order to succeed sooner, ‘fail fast’ and learn the lessons within” -Derek Mair
9. Create the platform for everyone to challenge business as usual: At the heart of strategy is resource allocation, so at the heart the business leaders work is their ability to effectively engage their limited resources. When a business leader has had success, it is common to continue to allocate resources in the same manner that led to that success. However, as the context of the business changes in the form of market trends, evolving customer needs, growth, etc., the resource allocation formula that led to that success will need to be renewed to one of engagement and contribution.
10. Success requires only two things: to know exactly what you want and determine the price you are willing to pay to achieve it… Failing to strategically think is failing to participate; Failing to strategically plan is planning to fail; Failing to strategically Implement is simply waste… Don’t pay the price of regret; choose instead to pay the price of discipline, now.
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