A plan, even an objective, doesn’t mean you have a strategy in place. I have seen decisions about employees, software, process, product, marketing campaigns, and company launches spun up on sticky notes.  We’re inspired by new ideas, big initiatives, and business maneuvers. Flippant decisions tend to produce unwanted or unexpected outcomes.  Even the approach or timing can derail business movements, causing a domino effect of doubt.  That other software was better.  This new hire isn’t cutting it.  Who will fill the void now?  The new process is torture.  This old product was better. Marketing campaigns don’t work.  This business is going nowhere.  Why is strategy so important, yet often overlooked?  Here are three experiences that might indicate a Strategy is Lacking.

  • The Plan Never Works As…Planned: You have all the meetings, with smart people, tasks assigned, and everyone is on board.  There is no looking back. We have a plan. A strategy is supported by research and various types of evidence to avoid planning around intangibles. A strategist works with the stake holder to challenge the objective and bring attention to the variables. While this seems antagonistic, it provokes critical thinking and brings consciousness to details like; employee strengths aligned with tasks, communication methods, and time allotted for meetings. The smallest thing might make the biggest difference.
  • One Metric or Bust: It has to do this one thing or it is a complete failure.  We got it all wrong.  I knew it wouldn’t work. We won’t try that again.  While it might not produce the desired result, it should always provide a series of lessons.  A strategy should identify additional learning opportunities and/or hypotheses based on research and previous information aggregated.  Preparation for alternative outcomes and contingency plans can pivot the movement to the desired result.  New findings can drive additional strategic recommendations for future decisions.    
  • It Worked!  Now Everything is Falling Apart: A great idea, perfect planning, and huge success… chaos ensues.  One of my favorite questions to ask colleagues or business leaders; Great idea, but what if it works?  I’m usually met with a chuckle, shoulder shrug, and a sigh, but like seriously?  It’s easy to bask in the daydream of high success and the accolades of others. The impact of success is often overlooked.  What will happen to your business?  What will it change?  “Strategy” is a term often used for war or creating solutions to complex business challenges. A success strategy might seem counter-intuitive, but this type of consideration will prepare you for the possibility of getting exactly what you thought you wanted.   

These experiences can be avoided if we slow down, ask more questions, and make more considerations in our business decisions.  A strategy isn’t like a political drama on TV. The depths of your superior wit and intellect won’t be revealed after the plot twist. Anyway, a basic understanding of cause and effect is a good place to start.  How could this plan fail?  What additional objectives could we accomplish?  If we find success, are we prepared?  Give it some thought, or give it to me to give it some thought. No need to lack on your strat.