We hear it all the time. I even mentioned it in my last post (the feedback from which made me decide to do this post!) How do we ensure we are more strategic? And what do we really mean about being more Strategic?
Firstly, How? The answer - ask the right questions - both of yourself and your team. The questions to ask? See below:
What are we doing today? This might seem a silly question. But do you know everything that is going on in your business? Are there legacy priorities that staff members are still spending significant time on? How do these priorities stack up against todays priorities? Has anyone discussed this? Does everyone know todays priorities. Do you? If you or they don't, why not? (Now that is really strategic!)
Why are you doing the work you are doing? Why now? This is absolutely strategic. It links directly to ensuring that both yourself and your staff have purpose for your work. If they don't one of your most important roles is to give your staff's work meaning. If you can't, then either they shouldn't be doing it, or you don't know the strategy. This question is also important in identifying differences of opinion. If there is disagreement in the answer to the why question, fix it quick!
How does what we are doing today align with the bigger picture? If your team is doing work that does not align with the Vision, Purpose, Values and Goals of the company, they shouldn't be doing it. If they are doing work that doesn't align but they still think it is meaningful and worthwhile, it is your job to realign them. Are you doing work that aligns with the companies long term goals? If not why not? Remember, you are the role model (whether you like it our not)
What does success look like for our team? KPI's, measures, progress. These are all incredibly important for strategy. If these are not clear, if either you or your team are unsure as to what success looks like, then spend significant amounts of strategic thought to clarify that. Otherwise how can you measure progress? How do you know if you are heading in the right direction? How do you know when you have reached the promised land?
How else could we achieve more, better, faster? Often we ask this question first before the other four listed above. We think we are being strategic in doing that. Well, this is not a chicken and egg argument (though that is an easy riddle to answer!) If you don't ask questions 1 to 4 before question 5 you will not unearth strategic insights, you will not know what is really getting done, you will not know where to focus your resources, you will not know what to change, stop or start. In other words, you will be in the dark strategically, as will your team
Secondly, what do we mean about being strategic. Quick and easy answer - make sure that what is being done in your organisation reflects your strategic plan. Make sure that the practicalities of the "stuff" being done is aligned to your strategy, that when it is completed you will have made strategic progress, and when you make strategic progress everyone will be aware of it. Being strategic is doing the work, taking the actions, that will ensure these things are in place, and stay in place. It is practical, it is not ethereal.
Be well, stay focused and be strategic