How many owners or executive teams are truly confident that their organization is operating at it’s best? How many have a true action plan for the future? And how many of those can actually execute on the plan?
Donald Sull, a lecturer at MIT and an expert on strategy execution surveyed hundreds of companies on how strategy is executed and found that many lack agility or have difficulties adapting to market circumstances. In a HBR article he reported that most organizations either “react so slowly that they can’t seize fleeting opportunities or mitigate emerging threats or react quickly but lose sight of company strategy”.
These fears are echoed by executives across companies and industries.
During a discussion on the challenges, risks and needs for transformation that many CEOs face, Maggie Wilderotter, CEO of the Grand Reserve Inn and former CEO of Frontier Communications pointed to “uncertainty around the regulatory environment, free trade, tax reform, cyber security detection and protection, technological disruption, political instability around the world, social media influence and changes in consumption patterns”.
Chief Strategy Officer at Siemens AG, Dr. Horst J. Kayser said we are in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution where digitalization in the industrial world is impacting all areas of life, industries, society and the way we work.
The future of business is changing, and even the big behemoth corporations risk failure, yet many owners and executives do not have a clear idea of what their company’s plan for the future really looks like.
Wilderotter warns “CEOs that do not reassess all facets of their business practices constantly do so at their peril. What worked yesterday will not necessarily work tomorrow. There should be no ‘sacred cows’ and a thorough assessment of new ways to delight customers and to make serving them easier for employees is critical.”
So don’t get caught flatfooted. Owners, investors and management teams need to take a step back to review their operational roadmap to assess what perception versus reality really looks like in their company. A successful plan should be able to answer questions like:
- Do you have measurable KPIs – what equals success?
- What’s your mission – does everyone know what gets you up in the morning? And they share that vision with fervor and enthusiasm?
- Your dashboard: is it showing you cash flow, financials, sales?
- Does everyone in the organization have defined roles they own?
- Are processes and systems streamlined and documented?
- Your customers: what’s their perception of you? Any untapped areas of opportunity?
- What’s your unique IP – how have you created lasting and defensible value in the business?
- What is your map for R&D and innovation?
- How can positioning of your company and products be improved in the year(s) ahead?
- If at some point you wanted to sell your company, or go public – are you ready? And has lasting value been created?
Leadership and teams should dedicate time each year to set out a plan that addresses these questions among others, while making sure there is buy in across the organization. So what’s your company action plan?