Going Where The Wind Takes You? The Ills of Having an Unclear Strategy

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Without a clear strategy in Life & Business Transitions you're letting opportunities, money, attention, and effort blow away in the wind that could otherwise be saved or put to better, profitable use.  This post is about identifying the signs that point to an unclear, ill-defined, or poorly communicated strategy and some resources that will benefit your Life & Business immensely.

Defining your Strategy, like a vision, mission, philosophy, or principles, for many people and businesses, is in that category of "squishy, nebulous, unhelpful, or complete wastes of time".  The funny thing that I always say is "you have all these whether you design them purposefully or not, they're there and not having them clearly defined is likely costing you a lot of wasted time and money." A strategy is the framework within which you make decisions whereas a vision is the destination and guiding light, the mission is your purpose and your way of being, your philosophy is, well, for another post, and principles are those essential rules and mechanisms by which you operate. A good strategy sets boundaries, constraints, and entails focus.  It describes more about what you're NOT going to do than what you are by stating boldly "this is the position we're taking, the approach we're focused on, and who we're going to be in the marketplace, ecosystem, or "context" in which you provide our services."  This post is about identifying some of the symptoms that can likely be cured with a well designed strategy.  This goes for your life, business, non-profit, or sub-team in a larger organization.

Symptoms of a Poorly Defined Strategy

  • You look no different than your competitors or others providing similar services.
  • You don't stand out among your peers to potential buyers, partners, or donors.
  • Your prime stakeholders and shareholders are unclear about what your business or organization is doing in 5 to 10 years and are unclear about why you will or should still exist at that point.
  • Your employees and leadership don't know how to describe your clients or customers clearly and concisely.
  • You don't seem to have a high value (from the customers point of view) or cost/price advantage compared to your rivals or peers offering similar products or services.
  • When team members, managers, or key stakeholders are asked what your top 3 priorities are for the year, they have different answers or no answers at all.
  • When someone asks your clients or customers what sets you apart, they don't know how to describe it.
  • You feel as though your success is based on luck and hard work alone.
  • You can't seem to get ahead of the "busy-ness" of your business and life.
  • You don't have a clear reason or description of why you're doing business the way you are, with the resources you are, with the partners you are, and for the customers you are.
  • If you've been spending a lot of money, time, and attention on solution after solution (random improvement initiatives, various IT based solutions, flavor of the month motivational methods, glitzy marketing programs, etc.) but don't seem to be moving the dial on revenue increases, cost reductions, customer or employee satisfaction, or other important measures.
  • If it seems like anyone can get into your business and be a valid competitor.
  • If customers can just as easily (and are more than willing) to go down the road or to the next website and get a product or service just as good.
  • If you have high annual employee turnover (30% or more).
  • If your priorities in your life or business transition are unclear or constantly changing.

Signs of a Good Strategy

  • Where, how, and why you operate in the marketplace are clear to you, your customers, peers, or competitors.
  • There is a clear roadmap for your organization, it's transitions, and it's priorities for the relative long term are obvious.
  • You, your employees, family, or organization weather storms in your life, business, or marketplace relatively easily because all the participants are clear on priorities, what you are/aren't doing, and you're focused on what brings you success.

Recommendations for Crafting a Great Strategy

  • Best Recommendation: Get training and education yourself and practice often
  • Next Best: hire a skilled facilitator to guide you and/or your leadership( Contact Me here!)
  • Learn Yourself: utilize one of the following resources to learn more
  • Simplest but Mostly Just Introductory: do a web search for "strategic planning template" and find a see of them available.  These will introduce you to some of the concepts, methods, models, and tools available.  This is a good starting place.
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At Next Callings, I work hard to make sure my customers all have a solid foundation in their Life and Business transitions and having a clear, useful, and valuable Strategy is an essential element for that.  Contact Me for help in developing a clear, communicable, and valuable strategy for you and your organization.