Can you articulate your company’s key strategic objectives? If so, do they provide clear and unequivocal guidance to you and your team about what is required to achieve success over the next few years?
Too often companies’ strategic statements are a mix of platitudes and hubris. For example, a strategic objective to deliver the ‘best customer service in the world’ is likely to receive nods of agreement from around the board table but is simply not precise enough to be delivered by the organisation.
Once you move away from platitudes to specific, measurable outcomes, you will create the focus, alignment and momentum to deliver the performance you’re after.
For example, for the last 5 years or more, Tesco has set a goal to be as big in non-food as it is in food. Delivering this goal has meant that, in some instances, more resources have been allocated to non-food teams than to the traditional food teams, which has created a stream of innovation in areas including clothing, electrical goods, retail services as well as its launch of Tesco Direct.
But clear, focused objectives are only the start. You also need to develop the commitment to pursuing and delivering a suite of initiatives that will, cumulatively, enable you to achieve your objective.
This becomes a problem when your first few initiatives do not go as planned. It can be tempting simply to give up on the goal, rather than develop new initiatives.
When I worked for UK retailer, Boots the Chemists, for example, the organisation set out a ‘wellbeing’ strategy, with a focus on added value services, such as dentistry, massage and complementary health.
The trouble started because the company over-invested in its initial initiatives, and when they didn’t work, it quickly back-tracked and gave up on the whole strategic objective, even though there were still some interesting consumer opportunities.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon put it like this: he said that his business is “fixed on the vision, flexible on the journey”, and that is the attitude that best leads to strategic success.