One of the first steps in strategy formulation is to understand your strategic perspective: what does winning look like in your kind of business or industry.
To answer this question, you must identify top players in your sector, or the key technology innovators and any other drivers of growth in your kind of business. Such analysis helps give perspective to where your business is against the top players, it also challenges your strategic team to think about the bigger picture.
During my strategic sessions with clients, I pose the following question;
“Where do you see your organization in the next 3-5 years in each of the following areas:
- Core technology in use for your mission critical business processes
- Business model- How does your business create and sustain value
- Top products generating the highest profitability and or sales volume (responsive customer offerings)
- Strategic business partners
- Kind of skills and experience required to drive growth
Regardless of your business type, profit or not for profit, private sector or public, asking and answering your strategic perspectives provides clarity of your business in terms of the changes that must be made today or now to achieve the desired future.
You gain clarity of the team’s thinking about the future; and the need to start changing now. You want your team especially the statusquoholics people who are anti-change they want to continue doing things the way they have always done them, to appreciate that if they don’t start changing now chances of keeping the current market share, customers and stakeholders are low.
For example, question (e) above on the kind of skills and experience required awakens people to the future reality of the kind of skills that will be needed for the organization to be competitive.
Such a question to your team is very powerful. Some of my clients request that I circulate the questionnaire to all staff in the organization as it lets people examine their own skills and ability to compete in the future. It is a good way of self-audit of the individual’s current skills and qualifications and what the team thinks are the essential skills for the business. It makes staff start exploring acquiring the skills needed to succeed in future so as to retain their jobs.
If you are an NGO or public institution, it is easy to become a mediocre organization due to the assumed lack of a competitor. The traditional approach to strategic planning misleads in the sense that since they are not profit making, they don’t have to be highly competitive. Even when they deliberately seek to be competitive, they use the excuse that “We are not a business.”
That is a wrong mindset in today’s world.
Business organization or not, you must put your best foot forward.
In your strategic perspective section, you must make clear of the following;
- What are the key pressures affecting our kind of industry?
If you are an NGO or CBO, you have been affected both locally and internationally due to reduced donor aid. This is a result of the 2008 global economic crisis, the current immigration crisis in Europe, increasing involvement of the west and Europe in wars in Syria and the Arab world due to ISS and the global terrorism dynamics.
Also the way of delivering aid is changing. Government is aware of the threats of a very strong civil society. They are increasingly enacting laws that are making it difficult for NGOs to operate easily. We are seeing a lot of money going through the National Treasury as opposed to the private NGOs unless these are branches of international NGOs like World Vision, Red Cross, Action Aid, among others.
The new pressure affecting NGOs is increasing funding to minority interests as opposed to social concern issues. There is increasing available for funding to support LBGT rights, and such similar causes. The list is endless. You need to explore all these pressures and what it means to your business.
You must take time and explore such pressures so that you put your business in perspective. When I am facilitating strategic planning sessions using the WinningTheGame® strategy approach which has been developed by Summit Consulting, I usually require the team to complete the following table.
Sample Table 1 (Sample perspective analysis of pressures)
Pressures affecting our business or organization
- What will drive the industry we play in in the future 5-10 years a head?
- Who are the winners in our kind of business and what are they doing well to win?
Asking and answering these questions provides clarity of the current status of the business and where it should be. It provides a quick reality check: are we ready for the future? Are we prepared for the current pressures affecting our business?
To be continued