The Five Principles of Keeping a Strategic Focus
Adopting and maintaining a strategic focus in small business plans ensures that the most important issues are addressed. Operating from this mindset is essential in developing a successful small business and mentoring staff development.
The strategic mindset is steeped in the knowledge that the following five principles invariably hold true.
Principle One – Structure Is Determined By Strategy
Strategy is the framework of choices that embody the vision of the business. The shaping of the structure of the business must be aligned to the strategic direction of the business.
Too often, structure determines strategy. When businesses are built around the vagaries of markets, leadership and other existent capabilities, they are prone to end up in a place that they do not want to be.
Often, for example, the leadership skills and the kind of leadership skill development that got a business to a particular stage in its lifecycle are not necessarily the same skills that are required to take the business to its next level of growth and profitability.
All the capabilities must be determined and shaped by strategic intent. This can only be arrived at through a deep understanding of the true nature of the business and the direction it should be headed, in light of that knowledge. One of the qualities of leadership is to stay attuned to the business and to be cognizant of whether its structure is supporting the implementation of the current business strategy.
Principle Two – Focus On The Core Issues
By understanding what kind of business they are in, successful and effective business owners and managers do not lose sight of their direction or get sidetracked into peripheral operational concerns and/or projects that sit outside their agreed strategic agenda.
They simply do not allow themselves to become distracted. The strategic objectives have been arrived at through careful, thorough, ongoing critical thought. Such thinking has been applied to analyzing trends, customer needs, product market scope, and all of the key capabilities required to achieve their initiatives.
Principle Three – Align Business Capabilities With Strategic Objectives
Effective business owners and managers make best-balanced choices. This is one of the essential qualities of good leadership. They are focused on the overall health of their business, not just for the immediate and short term gains, but for the long term benefit of the business. This requires disciplined thought and decisive action. Further, it requires a degree of simplicity and elegance in decision making.
In determining the capabilities required in regard to achieving strategic objectives, the following incisive questions are useful:
– Does this capability deliver what we want? – What would happen if we did not have this capability? – What capabilities do we need to achieve the tasks before us?
Principle Four – The Strategic Issues Agenda Is What Is Important
So often, the ‘urgent’ in business is what grabs our attention and consumes our time and effort. By being committed and paying close attention to the issues that form their strategic agenda, effective business owners and managers are able to achieve great gains in quick time.
Being able to set priorities and then sticking to them are two of the key hallmarks of maintaining a strategic focus in business. Doing so creates a sense of urgency within the ethos of the business around the truly important strategic issues that the business faces. This focus builds high performance.
Principle Five – Communicate The Strategic Agenda Constantly
All the employees in a strategically focused business know the state of play, and they are constantly reminded of it. This is because it is spelled out clearly in the strategic business plan and the company’s key performance indicators.
The key initiatives are well known throughout the business at all levels because they have been reduced down to bite-sized, key tasks and integrated into the operational environment of the business.
The strategic agenda is discussed all the time, and it is everyone’s responsibility to see that it is accomplished.
In business meetings, at the quarterly and annual business planning and review cycles, the focus is on the big things that the business must achieve. Performance benchmarks are established that indicate and measure the progress against the strategic objectives of the business.
Peter McLean is a highly experienced Coach, Senior Manager, Consultant, Business Owner and Company Director. He successfully coaches top Executives in some of Australia’s leading multi-national companies. Peter works extensively in the Public, Private, and Not-for-Profit sectors, delivering outstanding results for his clients. To learn more, please visit the Essential Business Coach web site!