Avoiding Strategic Lock-Down: Asking Strategic Questions
Jan 14, 2022
AVOIDING STRATEGIC LOCK-DOWN: Part 1 - Asking Strategic Questions
This is the first of our series to "Avoiding Strategic Lock-down" and will focus on asking great Strategic Questions.
But before the board and management dives into ‘what’ it is they want the business to be doing, the board needs to understand first who it is and what it wants the business to be. Therefore,
1. What is important to us as an organisation? Asking this question focuses on the future, and really asks what sort of organisation we want to be, what level of revenue we want, what sort of culture we encourage, and what do we want our points of difference to be. So, as a business we need to ask these questions of ourselves, so we have clarity of who we are.
Now that the board and business have a greater understanding of what’s important, it needs to take a stocktake of both its internal and external environment.
2. What ‘seems’ to be happening in our business? This in principle is our SWOT analysis. What is working for – what are we good at? What are we not so good at – what’s working against us? Digging deeper into our business and asking what is happening to the demand for our products and services, what trends are we seeing amongst our clients and across market segments? What are our competitors up to?
Ok, so now we know a bit more about who we are and what people think about us. What has that opened for us and what’s new?
3. What possibilities do we face? Which of the issues and opportunities that we have discovered are the major ones? What’s important and what’s not. List them in level of importance – now work out the implications for the business, and some possible opportunities stemming from those effects. Be brave and imaging what you could do if you knew you couldn’t fail.
We now have potentially two areas of growth and opportunity. One based on positive opportunities and the other on risk mitigation, avoiding any dangers that could impact on the business.
- What do we do next? Knowing is not the same as doing! Take your list of opportunities and consider which are likely to have the greatest impact – both positive and negative. What priority should we give them and who should take responsibility for each matter, including by when.
A strategy is built over a medium term, avoid trying to achieve everything in 12 months – remember to think about the first question…what sort of business you want to be; picture it, think about it and set that point in time for it to happen.
5. How will we know when we’ve been successful? This is not just measuring success, but also measuring our progress. Establish milestones and periods of review. It is essential to ‘count what counts’ – have meaningful measures of performance. It is essential to monitor the “Strategic Wellbeing” of the business by constantly looking for feedback and rewarding critical points of achievement.
So, as we embark on 2022 and beyond, we need to ensure we can survive and pivot our business if needed when the circumstances arrive. One thing we have needed to adjust to is the rapid level of change in the community, shifts in government policy and the subsequent impact on consumer spending and business continuity. What is here today may be gone tomorrow. So, directors and business owners need to be prepared. And they can do this by know who they are, where they are going and how they are going to achieve it. Taking the time and money to invest in planning your future will mitigate much of the risk and save you money in the long run.
The key to achieving this level of security in your business is having someone independent who is not emotionally attached to what you’re wanting to achieve. What I’ve found in business is that many boards and business owners are generally reluctant to challenge themselves, ask the harder questions about what they are doing and if they really have the capacity to achieve it. This is where I can help by asking those questions and digging deeper into how you can get the success who long for.