Starting something with the end-game in mind.
In the game of chess, the end game moves are the most-awaited and most-studied part of the game. The players have the initial advantage but without a clear game plan as to how they will win and overcome the challenges of the opponent, the game is already moving to the losing end. Analysts and chess masters would have specific procedures, tactics, and strategies to overcome even the most complex moves of the opponent to either create an advantage or to force a draw, at least.
In life and business, in your organizations, are you starting from the point of what long-term results are you trying to achieve? What measures do you have as evidence that you have achieved them? What are the concrete steps that you are willing to take to ensure that the commitment will be thorough and binding? Who needs to be fully informed, partially informed, and be told on what needs to be done?
The end-game creates a strategic mindset for leaders to deeply understand how to win before they even start. Evolution and adaptation are givens, increasing the chance of success is an option that you can make.
The hot topic nowadays is being adaptive-adaptive thinking, adaptive leadership, adaptive processes, adaptive-whatsoever.
Heeding the call for being adaptive runs the risk of being on the passive, reactive, reactionary, and totally clueless side of the equation. Your buttons are always on 'fire' adapting to changes in circumstances, events, and external forces beyond your control or imagination.
With a leak on the roof, you can be adaptive by getting a bucket to catch the leak. But with proper roof inspection and monitoring, you know that you can even be ahead of the game and prevent it from occurring.
Strategic thinking trumps the safety net of adaptation. It clarifies the problems/challenges that needed to be addressed, increases the intelligence about solutions and opportunities, and looks out for effective mechanisms/vehicles to reach the intended objectives.
Don't confuse strategy with planning as plans do not survive at the end of the planning day. It is the strategic work that should help you and your organizations design your next best move given the environmental changes and forces detrimental to your success.
Adaptation cannot mine opportunities, it relies on present capacities and analysis and current problem-solving, only with the best strategy can bring out the innovation in organizations and individuals.
Start innovating and stop adapting.
Don't let a dramatic event stop your tracks before you get the lessons learned or get the message.
Improve your value and organizational value rapidly by cutting off the status quo that no longer serves your mission, purpose, and strategies.
It is easy to be riding on the waves when the economy is on an upswing, everyone likes the ride up there, the air is thin but fresh.
When the economy tanks out, everyone thinks about cutting their losses and downsizing to manageable levels.
It is time to stop reacting to world events, economic catastrophes, outside offers, and deals. It is time to start innovating and building a better base for tomorrow by thinking for the future, not for the past and the present. It will be stale by the time you launch it.
Remember- stop waiting for a dramatic event. By that, it means one thing- you are being let go and the organization has suffered more to deserve a radical shakedown.
When people I met asked, are you concentrating on business growth strategy? I always say, not necessarily.
See, a lot of people confuse business strategy with business growth. Well, there is no way but advancing and moving up, right? But there are many complex questions around growth and strategy that need to be unpacked. It is not a simple proposition at all.
For now, the concept of business strategy is fundamental to any well-functioning organization, whether you are nonbusiness or a business entity. But it does not mean that it is about growth.
What is growth by the way? It is a fundamental question that the organization needs to ask. Where are you growing from? What does growth mean to you? It is bigger, better, more revenues, customers, worldwide distribution, becoming a business empire with acquisitions, etc. What does 'growth' mean to your stakeholders-shareholder, partners, customers, staff/employees? From where do you have to grow from? Where- is a good question to ask.
A colleague of mine who sits with me in a nonprofit advisory committee told her husband that they don't need to buy five more cows in order to grow. They run a cow/milk businesses as a family and that they founded it from the bottom up. Having five more cows do not constitute growth, to her it is just more work.
Correctly put, having more, bigger, better do not constitute growth at all. What are you actually sacrificing in order to get 'bigger, better, having more'? It is definitely a zer0-sum game because there is a question of scarce resources, time, energies, and attention.
What kind of growth are you pursuing? There is a myth that you have to grow superfast, big, and outdo all the competition at the same time. Peter Drucker, the best management strategist of all time, said that a growth policy has to distinguish between healthy growth, fat, and cancer. They are all growth but the last two are negative, deleterious growth.
Being obese as an organization is a temptation to have but not sustainable in the long run. More organizations are being 'fat' that actually not having real growth experience in their midst. The fat has to be trimmed off to pursue real growth objectives.
What economies, cities, and organizations need is sustainable long-term growth strategy, that consider the changes in the environment, their unique strengths, and the growth opportunity present in those areas.
I was on a phone call last week talking to a major trade association staff. I inquired about the program I thought was still running and getting a lot of engagement from their membership based from the website page I viewed.
It turned out that that program did not exist anymore. It was terminated in 2015 after a few years running it due to many reasons. I inquired about other programs that they may have.
The staff, very knowledgeable about their association told me that based on their strategy, they would like to provide thought leadership through resources, information, knowledge products they produced on a regular basis. Because of this, they cannot be doing something else that might distract them or be contrary to this organizational goal.
Very well said.
I wish that a lot of organizations have effectively articulated and communicated where their organization is going and how to get there to all the vital organs of the organization, including the staff, volunteers, and key clients/customers.
As I was told, then I become more aware of their work and the kind of business strategies they have to operate effectively in this challenging environment.
The best strategies do not stay on the shelf, gathering dust. It is lived and experienced and harnessed by all the people and stakeholders that take time to develop and nurture them to shepherd its successful implementation.
I am a customer that is now more informed.
Imagine a balloon. It expands and once it reached its maximum point, it will stop expanding and start exploding.
Rapid, unbridled, uncontrollable growth creates pressures and issues for the organization. Capacity is over-stretched than normal, new needs are required to make it successful. There is a tendency to forsake other boring functions in the organization to service the change which had left a huge demand for management and staff. A huge imbalance threatens order and stability. The management is left to fend for itself to put back a new normal of arrangements. In short, caught with its pants down.
When times are great, they roll and frolic, not making/creating strategies that will outlast the growth in a measured way. There is a tendency to ride on the high wave unaware of the risks and threat, but when the wave disappears leaving the organization unable to sustain the growth. They crash into the shore with battered limbs.
It can be a major capital gain, major project, a business partner that has to be serviced, a new donor with high demands, program scope creep, new acquisition, etc. Anything that has been committed and is eating a major chunk of organizational resources without clear and compelling alignment to the overall business strategy.
This is an unsustainable and non-desirable growth that you don't want to have.
Be careful when you wish for growth. Only with the alignment to strategy can you justify investing in more and more for far greater returns.