Albu On Strategy

Plan to Win in Uncertain Times

What does it really take to be successful in today’s fast-paced, uncertain, and competitive business environment?  Two important factors: 1) meticulously managing your day-to-day operations, and 2) strategically planning for the future, both short- and long-term.  However, planning often gets shortchanged because of the rigors of managing the day-to-day business. 

Orit Gadiesh, Chairman of Bain & Co., was quoted in 1998 in an article in Fast Company Magazine entitled What’s New, What’s Not, and her words are still relevant today: “Uncertainty has always been a fundamental reason for developing a strategy.  Yet, with the level of uncertainty that we see today, more and more people are asking, ‘How can you develop a strategy in a world that keeps changing so fast?’  They’re afraid that articulating a set of rigid principles will hinder their ability to react quickly.  I would argue that it is precisely at such times that you need a strategy.  Think about what a strategy is: it’s the process of making trade-offs and choices about how to allocate scarce resources.  A company that has infinite resources doesn’t need a strategy.  Do you know any company that has infinite resources?  In the current environment, companies can’t afford not to have a set of guiding principles…a system of core values that communicates ‘true north’ to the entire organization.”

Using Gadiesh’s quote as a backdrop, we have found that strategy management, the practice of managing an organization’s resource allocation to achieve specific long-term objectives, requires a different kind of leadership.  It requires a leadership that focuses the organization on what is important to achieve its future.  Providing any organization with a strategy that sets clearly stated long-term objectives will help management choose what activities to resource, as well as those that should not be pursued.

Here are two reasons to invest quality leadership time and resources on a strategy management process. 

  • If you think you know your business, you don’t…because in today’s business environment things are changing too fast. Markets, customers, competitors, suppliers are constantly changing and adapting to the new and evolving realities of the marketplace.  To be successful leaders need to adapt to win.  Strategy management provides visibility on the external and internal business landscape, thereby enhancing your understanding of the environment today and forecasting into the future. 
  • Employees often complain of a lack of communication from their leaders. Your teams need to know what is important, and what they need to do to contribute to the organization’s success.  A good strategy management process will make strategy everyone’s day-to-day responsibility.  It moves people out of their silos and will cause them to work together as a cohesive team to achieve common goals. As a result of a more focused, better-informed organization, employees will be more motivated to help the organization win in the marketplace. 

 As Orit Gadiesh said, “Uncertainty has always been a fundamental reason for developing a strategy.” When was the last time you did a deep dive analysis of your internal and external business environment?  Have you explicitly communicated your strategy to your employees?  Is it time for you to launch a strategy management process at your company?  Please share what choices you have made to achieve the success you want today and tomorrow in these uncertain times.  Please feel free to forward this newsletter to your friends and associates as you see fit.

Posted in Leadership, Newsletter, Strategy Development, Strategy Management.