We live in “interesting times” to coin a Chinese proverb, with Brexit bringing insecurity nationally, a new US president bringing uncertainty internationally and a world that is shifting to embrace Artificial Intelligence and new regulations on the use of data in the form of GDPR.
Never has there been a greater need for strategic leadership within business. Prior to now good control and management would suffice to get a business to succeed. Now it’s all about real futuristic leadership. With the current speed of life requiring leaders who can inspire and influence others rather than control and measure them. With insecurity and uncertainty, ambiguity and volatility, complexity and confusion in our modern business environments people and organisations need clarity and direction. They need to know where they are going and why, what they are trying to achieve, they need clear strategy and purpose; a clear vision that they can believe in and can embrace. For without a vision and a strategic picture it is extremely difficult to work out where you sit currently, let alone where you are going.
“A business without strategy is like a ship without a rudder, left to flounder at the mercy of the sea” Phil Sampson
This manifests itself as one of the biggest issues in today’s businesses is the large gap between “think and do” and that goes both ways to “do and don’t think” as well. The gap between planning and operating is growing in an ever more confusing environment. People who spend their valuable time doing “don’t think” about their business, and people who think about their businesses, don’t have the time or resource to implement that thinking in the right way. The problems are “I know what to do……but I don’t know when I am going to do it” or “I don’t know what to do” and these are the biggest reasons for businesses failing in the current environment.
In any business there are things that have to be done, things that need to be done, things to do, things it would be good to do and things that don’t need to be done. The problem is without strategy most people use just the bottom line to measure their success and focus on the wrong things. They end up doing those things that bring in money instantly, whilst those strategic things that need to be done aren’t being done because they don’t have an instant return.
So how do we focus strategically on the right things in the maze of the modern business environment?
Focus and prioritise: In the Royal Marines a colour sergeant once said to me “Sir, you are not clever enough to think of more than ten things, so just make sure they are the right ten things” extremely wise counsel. The solution is simple it’s called STRATEGY, by planning and identifying what all our issues are and where we want to get to, we can identify our big issues and then focus on the top ten. We develop disciplines and processes that keep our businesses on track and we delegate successfully to others. Strategy identifies the priorities to focus on.
Planning: Strategy starts with identifying “the why” the purpose of the business. Truly identifying where the business is “the where do we start from” follows on. The next stage involves deciding on the destination “the where are we going”. This happens through the identification of a vision which can be shared and owned. The vision becomes reality through dividing it into missions and then forming the plan; a clear pathway to success.
Contingencies: Things that will prevent success need to be identified “the things that will stop us” these are risks that need to be recognised and contingencies prepared to prevent failure. Once we have that clear plan we can consider the allocation, both in terms of the talent required and the priority of allocation from this we can work out the art of the possible “the how”
Strategy has to be simple to be effective and need not become an over complicated, difficult and challenging process. Strategy needs to be empathic with a business and not prescriptive to a template. Strategy has to adapt to circumstances and the environment in an organic way moving with the situation and the environment. It is far more like a satnav than it is a printed route map or description of a route to a destination. And clear organic strategy has never been more needed in organisations and businesses!
Sampson Hall can help you with strategic planning, leadership and team development and we have a range of experts who can work with you on implementing your GDPR plan for 2018. Please get in touch.