You’ve laid the foundation, set the bar and let everyone know what the organisation is in store for. What’s left is your forward strategy – building continuity and achieving your vision, one step at a time.
What is forward strategy?
At its most basic, forward strategy refers to the second ongoing part of the strategy implementation process. While we’ve seen the importance of drafting a company strategy, it is even more vital to keep that strategy flowing. The process includes reminding, reviewing, adapting and implementing your prior plans. Furthermore, you need to effectively communicate any changes and new goals to everyone.
Refresh your view
No matter how often you revisit your strategy, you should begin by looking back. If you’ve performed a thorough job and documented it properly, your strategy should be an open book. In addition, you should have a ready list of the aims you set out to achieve.
You should also make sure that everyone involved takes the time to catch up on strategy points. It’s no use having key personnel attend a major strategy gathering if they have forgotten all the groundwork that was laid. Take the time and provide them with a reading list before the gathering. Everyone should be on the same page when discussing strategy.
Be reasonable when measuring whether you’ve achieved all your goals. Because multiple factors may have changed since your original strategy, some of your aims may not be 100% achievable. What’s more, you may find that you need to reconsider a fair amount of what you set out to do. Having said that, don’t be afraid to record any true failures. Part of measuring progress effectively is to see where it hasn’t taken place as it should have.
Now is not the time to begin planning anew
Realise that continuity is a key point in successful strategy. You don’t want to spend time unnecessarily adjusting your strategic approach entirely. Once your first strategy session gave you a solid foundation, any forward strategy sessions should be a follow-on.
If you find yourself struggling to adopt your strategic approach after a year or more, seek assistance. Inexperience in strategic planning can easily lead to a strategy plan that simply isn’t achievable, no matter how much effort is included. Having this as a repeated issue time after time is a definite issue which needs to be addressed without delay and without fail.
Innovate before you adapt
In a 2016 post, Lisa Bosell, CEO of Futurethink, advocated the micro-approach of following trends in technology at an individual level. This approach has several benefits. Firstly, it allows key personnel to remain fully connected to the industry’s cutting edge. It also allows them to stay integrated with the strategic approach. What’s more, it empowers them by linking accountability to people.
There is naturally a small inherent risk when using an innovation-based approach. You may find that you’ve missed the mark when it comes to your consumers’ expectations. This is why being able to adapt is a critical, if secondary, strategic concern.
Realign goals where it is feasible
As mentioned above, it’s possible that not all of your strategic goals are achievable just yet, and some not at all. With that in mind, now is the time to consider changing those goals. Bear in mind, however, that continuity means you cannot simply nullify all your goals and add completely new ones. What’s more, this would also lead to more business unpredictability in the future. The knock-on effects of this include loss of customer confidence and confusion within the organisation itself. Thus, you need to be very careful about making grand changes at a macro level. Only implement changes when you have discussed in full and achieved tangible consensus from your team.
Forward strategy with an eye on your vision
Never lose sight of where you wish to be in the next 5 to 10 years. The trick with ongoing strategy is to ensure that it meets your vision further on down the line. It’s all very well and good to have massive expansion plans and growth for the decade to come. Is your strategy tailored to that, though? To answer this question, examine your long-term strategy goals critically and decide whether achieving them will result in your vision becoming reality.
What’s often helpful is to keep a constant eye on your performance. Have a way to track objectives and goals, and score your successes or failures at a monthly rate. Not only does this help with maintaining credibility and accountability, it also provides useful insight into whether your strategy is being executed correctly. Finally, having that performance scored in a fashion that you can share with everyone is also immensely useful for current and future performance targets.
Adept’s strategic approach encompasses a set of measured objectives within the financial, client, internal and learning perspectives, all in line with our vision for our future.