I love summer. Many of us welcome a change of scene. And while work continues, its rhythm shifts. Like a jump in the pool, lake, or ocean, I find that shift to be refreshing. It creates much needed mental space to rethink, regroup, and renew. Now that it is officially fall, it’s time to move all that thinking into action – and time for a strategy refresh.
In the spirit of practicing what I preach – I took a fresh look at my own strategy and execution plan. The last few years had been productive and rewarding. I enjoyed fabulous clients with challenging problems. And I achieved much of what I’d set out to do. Looking ahead, I want to maintain the momentum, reach new stretch goals, and explore new opportunities. These are the elements that ensure both building on what works and creating a sustaining business - no matter what size business you're running.
Three things I learned during my ‘strategy refresh’:
1. Passion is key; keep it. I love what I do. Thinking about strategy and making it really work with and for my clients totally floats my boat. As I considered ‘what next’, I also thought carefully about what matters to me in my work and what my clients value most. These are the heart of my business, no matter what course I take.
Consider: What motivates you and your team? Specifically, what allows you to do more of that – only better – for your customers?
Pick 1-3 things you’ll do to reinforce these in the next 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, etc. Make sure they are explicitly embedded in your execution plan - put them on your calendar for regular review.
2. Take stock of – and capture – what you know. Ever complete a difficult project that required your heart and soul, at the end of which you simply exhaled and moved on to the next thing? Too often we breathe that sigh of relief, and then simply carry on. We are more likely to evaluate something when it fails than we are when it works. Yet, both situations offer great lessons. And, instead of focusing solely on what worked or could be improved, consider what you learned.
Ask: Who might benefit from that knowledge? What new products or services might we offer based on that? How does this knowledge help our customers?
Capture and codify what you learned, in a structured way. Relate these to your core vision and strategy; if they make sense, consider converting these lessons into tools for others to use – or buy. Then, share!
3. Get help. No one knows everything. No one can do everything. And while many of us are asked to be Jacks and Jills-of-all-trades, most of the time, we shouldn’t be. Whether your business is tiny or huge, knowing when to ask for help and for what is critically important to sustained success. I’m not a marketing or branding guru. Neither am I a techie. I knew what I wanted to do and largely, how to do it. I got help literally in putting it together – ensuring the tools and the messages lined up to deliver the outcomes I’d defined.
Think: What will it cost (in dollars, time, brain power) for me or my team to solve that challenge or complete that task? Are there others who can do it better, faster, and therefore, cheaper?
Find a trusted advisor or other resource to help. Get someone with the specific expertise to complete the task – and often, provide additional value beyond the original request. That’s an effective and efficient use of company resources.
Managing strategy well includes constant feedback. See how our strategy is taking shape and share your thoughts.