Often by mid-year New Year’s resolution and strategic targets have long been abandoned. To prevent this, adjustments to the strategy should happen continually and consistently, but there’s no better time to check your course than now. To determine if your well-laid plans have gone asunder, ask yourself these essential questions:
1. To what extent is our strategic principle still relevant?
The strategic principle of an organization occurs at the intersection of its excellence, passion, and profitability. It explains why customers choose your products or service, why you make money at what you do, and why people want to work for your organization. Most importantly, it defines your unique added value-what would be lost to the world if your organization disappeared.
Identifying your current strategic principle and determining whether it should change is the most difficult aspect of strategy correction, because a shift in focus can affect the organization in profound ways. Start by asking which one of these best defines your core:
- Products / Services-What we sell
- Customer / Market Needs-To whom we sell
- Production Capability-Production know-how, processes, systems, and equipment.
- Method of Sale or of Distribution-How we sell your products or services
- Growth and Profit-What we do to become the biggest, most profitable in the industry
- Technology-How we capitalize on our technological capabilities to make money
Every member of the organization should be able to repeat your strategic principle-your value proposition, elevator speech, and driving force all rolled into one pithy declaration. Start by looking in, but then look at the landscape around you.
2. To what extent is the competition affecting us?
Setting strategy based on the competition doesn’t usually position a company for industry leadership. However, ignoring the competition won’t work either. You have to understand the competition but not let them define how you’ll play the game. What creates this magic balance? Ask:
- What have major competitors done this year-game-changing new products or technologies that threaten the playing field?
- What could the competition do to hurt us?
- Are there any new competitors or new players?
- Thinking about your competitors’ players should cause you to examine your own and the final essential question for course correction.
3. What talent changes must we make to meet our short- and long-term targets?
Too often the team that brought you your current success won’t be the one to take you to the playoffs. If this were halftime of a playoff game, how would you rate your bench? Do you have stars in key positions? Or have you allowed mediocrity to creep into places you can’t afford it? Finding top talent for key positions takes companies longer now that the economy has improved. If you haven’t developed from within during the tough times, realize that now you’ll have to compete for the same players that every other team wants. Tough, but not impossible.
Success demands mid-course corrections, but it also requires courage. If you weren’t already on this course, would you choose it? A “no” answer means you need to revisit the goals you set at the beginning of the year. Otherwise, your 2015 targets can quickly turn into your 2016 targets-or worse.