"Strategy" is an over-used word but that doesn't alter the fact that markets and the environment are constantly changing and you need a plan to keep ahead. So what is strategy?
It's the broad game plan, including the battles you choose to fight, the ground you choose to fight upon and the weapons you choose to use. In business, it is the quest for profit from business activity.
You know what it's like, you just get on top of things and then another directive comes in from head office. Companies have to be able to turn on a sixpence to react to events and predict trends so that they can survive and prosper. Competitors evolve, merge and come out of nowhere. What you do affects the market and the market reacts and changes accordingly.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you know what the goals are?
- Do you understand them?
- Do you and your team support them?
- Do you spend enough time on them?
It's all about communication….
- Where do you want to go?
- Why there?
- How do you get there?
Above all, strategy is about execution. It is about what your team do every day of their lives. Strategy does not just happen in the minds of executives. It is executed every time a decision is made, a customer is met, a member of staff meets a colleague.
Strategy rarely fails in its conception (although if you do not have one, it will not succeed). Strategy fails in the execution. And at the heart of its execution are your people.
Strategy is not a business plan that sits on a shelf. It is peoples' collective understanding of what they are trying to achieve, what they have to do, and why they are trying to do it. They only achieve this if the strategy has been communicated effectively. If you fail, you will have an octopus with its eight tentacles flailing in different directions. If you succeed you will have a sleek school of dolphins powering through the water.
How to do it:
Communicate where you are going: If you don't know where you're going, you won't know whether or not you get there.
Let's assume that you know where you want to go. But how do you communicate it? For example suppose your goal is "To become the most popular restaurant in the high street":
- What does this mean?
- Who will think it's the best?
- How is popularity measured?
- By when?
In addition to these difficult statements, you will also need to ask:
- At what cost?
Have short-, medium- and long-term goals.
- Make the targets 'SMART' - specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timed.
- Communicate why you're doing it - think about what's in it for your team in order to engage them. If people have a sense of purpose and understand why something is important, they will do it.
Let your team know that "if we do 'x' the result will be 'y', and this is how."
Consult as well as inform - they might know a better way. Remember that communication can be through actions - what messages are you transmitting with your behaviour?
Strategy is about communicating:
- The where
- The why
- The how
It is about communicating in a variety of styles in order to affect the different ways people think and behave in your organisation. It is about communicating messages and actions: Where to focus attention and how high to jump. It is about giving everyone a sense of purpose so they think "How can I contribute to the strategy?"
Most importantly it is a continuous process. Strategy formulation does not stop with a business plan. You need to have a sense of what is going on, inside and outside the organisation, and to react to those signals. Listen to feedback, learn and change the message or do something different if it is not working.
Strategy communication is just like any other effective communication. It's a two-way process that requires rapport, listening skills and the ability to put yourself in the other person's position.
Produced by Caterer-online in association with learnpurple.