We all get caught up in the day-to-day hum of work. We process this, talk to so-and-so, meet with customers, etc. Our whole existence in the workplace occurs within this bubble - this imaginary atmosphere that encompasses your attitude, behaviors, and thoughts surrounding the workplace. Strategy has been lost.
Why is strategy no longer a valuable aspect of our work? Simple, it takes time and concentration and does not fit the typical "productive" stereotype. Instead we go through the motions of what has worked in the past, anticipating that it will work in the future.
Cynthia Montgomery is a professor at Harvard Business School. She states that "strategy has become more about formulation than implementation, and more about getting the analysis right at the onset than living with a strategy overtime". In effect, she states strategy has less and less to do with the core of management, leadership, and business.
There are four questions to ask and confront yourself with:
1. What does my organization bring to the world?
2. Does that difference matter?
3. Is something about it scarce or difficult to imitate?
4. Are we doing today what we need to do in order to matter tomorrow?
As an example, IKEA was founded in 1942 by Ingvar Kamprad when he was 17 years old. IKEA's purpose from the very beginning was to "create a better everyday life for the many". IKEA consistently makes clear choices and implements strategy based on who they are, what they will do, and to whom they will matter.
What people do and how they do it, should be driven by strategy.
So, how do you become more of a strategist?
To begin, you need to have an understanding of the big picture, the organization's aspirations, and the organization's plan for making it happen. Being a strategist requires the science of being analytical and the ability to use judgement or "feel" the process and outcomes. This takes practice and experience.
Next, visualize your bubble. Then take a step back so you can see all the things around your buble in a much broader scope. Look at all the connections within the bubble. Are they designed with a common purpose? Are they reinforcing each other? Are they closely connected? Now take a look at the organization in the industry. How well does it fit? Does it have and stand by a difference that matters in the market? Would it be missed if it were gone?
Finally, being a strategist requires constant ongoing analysis with prompt communication and clear delivery of the message. Strategies need to evolve to strengthen and elongate the business' life span. This means, as a strategist, you will need to keep the broad perspective and analyze how new events in the industry, market, and internally change and improve the overall goal of the organization.
April Salsbury, MBA is a strategist, an analyst, an operational guru, a recognized leader and C-suite global healthcare executive with drive and focus for competitive markets. Co-host of The Business Forum Show and regular contributor to various business journals, she possess multi-functional and multi-national competencies with more than 15 years experience in business and healthcare. Her expertise is in invigorating revenue growth and infusing value of lean practices in growing companies through improvements to cash flow and operations management.
Fueling revenue, growth and profit, Salsbury & Co. is a consultancy firm focused on helping businesses and healthcare organizations achieve excellency. Our specialists have executive experience combined with deep functional expertise to provide our clients with services that drive real impact and results.
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