The First Essential Step to Business Excellence: Strategy

Written by
Catherine Bennett

You and a group of friends have planned a weekend trip to a remote cabin in the woods. As the sun dips lower in the sky, you worry about the few hours you’ll be spending in the pitch blackness to reach your destination. You bring a GPS to make sure you can navigate the landscape if you lose data or service. Before leaving, you gave a GPS and coordinates to each of your friends, along with a packing list and itinerary.  

As you get behind the wheel and head toward your destination, visibility worsens. You realize there are many exits to take and dirt roads to wander down. Gradually, buildings are replaced by pine trees, as you stay fixed to your GPS. After a few hours, you wind down a bumpy, dirt road and pull up to a cabin lit only by your headlights.

Achieving any destination—in business and in life—requires setting clear expectations from Day 1 to achieve success. In business, these expectations are your strategy. Without strategy, your team will assume you’re all meeting at the same cabin in the woods, but instead end up at different cabins miles away from each other.

That’s the power of strategic precision.

High-performing businesses have teams that travel closely together on the road to sustainable success with a goal-oriented, strategic trailblazer at the driver’s seat. That lead communicates the strategy initially and regularly with the team to make sure there is understanding and progress.

Why Strategy Comes First

The term “strategy” is often interchangeably thrown around with mission statements and vague growth goals. True strategy is the combination of a company’s identity, its measurable growth goals, its objectives, and more.

In the pursuit of achieving excellence, many businesses work toward improvement by fixing the wrong problems. Then, when KPIs stay the same, leadership scratches their heads and wonders what they missed.

The reality is that most leaders think they have a strategy, so they look at more surface level fixes when things go south. Oftentimes, the solution to performance issues is a lack of strategy alignment throughout the organization.

A leader may see a lack of productivity or fumbled communications, and assume the team needs to implement more meetings, which turn into roadblocks. However, the root cause of the surface level setbacks is a lack of clarity around the direction the team is headed.

With strategic clarity, every action that follows is full of energy and purpose.

How to Build a Winning Strategy

There are multiple ways to build a sound strategy that rallies your team, but the Burgleman Model is a solid place to start. Here are the key steps:

1. Define what winning looks like and how you’ll know you’ve won.

2. Define what it takes to win, spending the time to be as specific and detailed as possible so you include everything from technology, to people, to processes, how work is done, and the product capabilities, etc.

3. List what you have. What you are currently doing that is enabling you to win.

4. Identify the gaps. Is it people, process, equipment, training, etc?

5. Rate your potential for success and your confidence factor. Along with the actions that will close the gap. As a team, look at the capability required to achieve the strategic objectives and score them on your confidence of success.

6. Brainstorm the actions. Agree on the top 5-7 actions that will have the most impact towards winning.

7. Prioritize actions. Identify the top strategic objectives that will be required over the 18-36 months to enable you to win.

Define Your Winning Strategy With These Talking Points

It’s one thing to know what it takes to win, and another to hash through the elements that will define the answers to Burgleman’s checklist. Conversations around all of these topics will help you develop those answers.

Review Mission, Vision, and Values: Start by realigning and reevaluating the organization’s core identity. Every element of the strategy should be measured against these decision-defining elements.

Understand Industry Dynamics: Knowing what it takes to succeed in the industry is crucial. This involves dissecting current competition, differentiating the company from its peers, and developing a value proposition that resonates.

Analyze Success Factors: If your business is profitable, you’re doing a lot of things right. Capitalize on those strengths while simultaneously identify weaker areas. Defining strengths and weaknesses will launch you closer to finding solutions that drive transformation.

Get Real About Timelines: You don’t do your team any favors by being too idealistic with your expectations. Understand the resources at hand and what you can realistically accomplish in the next 6, 12, 24, and 36 months.

Assign Actionable Objectives: Ideas and goals confined to paper is a common business pitfall. While strategies are essential, they’re utterly useless without action. Prioritize assigning objectives to people on your team quickly so they can start moving the needle.

This is where hiring a strategic partner (link) becomes invaluable. A business expert who has materialized strategies can easily diagnose problems and put the right solutions in place.

Create a Guiding Coalition: Get stakeholders on board early so they can help you steer the vehicle. The brainpower and manpower of a team driving strategic change always beats the lone leader.

Create a Sense of Urgency: Get granular about tasks and timelines to fuel momentum and progress.

Effective Communication: Implementing a new strategy is no small task. Discuss how you’re going to communicate progress and updates effectively to keep everyone aligned and on the same page. If you don’t stay consistent with communication, you will lose your team halfway down the road.

How Strong is Your Strategy?

Want to know how aligned your team is in your business strategy? Do you lead a manufacturing, healthcare, or construction team in Utah?

Schedule a no-cost Business Excellence Assessment for detailed insights into where your team sees opportunities to strengthen your strategy.

Ready for high-performing teams and systems in your manufacturing business? Reach out and see how iMpact Utah can transform people and processes to help you maximize profits and achieve sustainable growth. We guarantee to triple your investment in performance results or you don’t pay us.

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