The (Mind-Boggling) Introduction
About 2,240,000,000 results (0.52 seconds)
That was the result of our Google search on the term “strategy” as we were preparing to draft this content. For those (like Becky) who are number challenged, that’s more than 2 billion! No wonder we see confusion among leaders about strategy—what it is, how to create it, whether it’s good, etc.
The Core Concept
Despite all the visual noise on the topic, strategy is a simple concept. It’s a plan of action. No more, no less. And we strategize all the time, regardless of whether we realize it.
For instance, we just completed a holiday season that features gift-giving. Our goal was likely to buy at least one gift for family and friends we hold dear, presumably because our vision or desired outcome was for those individuals to feel loved and appreciated. We may have asked those individuals to share gift ideas with us. We may have made our own list of potential gift ideas for each person. We may have browsed stores at our local shopping center until we saw the perfect gift for the individuals. We may have even used a combination of each of those approaches. Whatever method we used, it was our strategy, our plan of action to secure a gift for loved ones, and the ultimate feeling of love and appreciation we wanted them to experience.
Here’s where things can get tricky—and maybe it’s why there are more than 2 billion search results on the topic—we may have done those things without thinking. We may have allowed a habit we’ve created after years of gift-buying dictate our plan of action. And that may have been a great strategy, or it may have been a costly or ineffective one that we could have avoided with a little strategic thinking on the front end of the process.
Did you start last week’s exercise? If so, you’ve likely heard great feedback from your senior leaders on what you’ve been doing well as an organization. As it turns out, crisis can spark us to think in new patterns as we try to address unique challenges.
For example, we’ve heard organizational leaders talk about the many ways they have taken care of their employees during the pandemic—bonuses, extra days off around the holidays, gift cards for food or gas, bringing in lunches, providing new tools/resources to do their work, etc. We’ve also seen and heard employee responses to those initiatives, and it’s all been positive!
As leaders, we should want our team to feel empowered, appreciated, and supported every day, not just during a crisis. So, how do you make that happen? That’s where strategy enters the scene.
- Start with what’s already working. What can you continue to do even after the crisis? For instance, if you gave an extra day off around the holidays, is there any reason that you can’t do that again in 2021?
- Re-visit the ideas that you didn’t implement. Are there any ideas that might work better in a non-crisis environment? If so, which ones would make the biggest impact on your goal to have employees feel empowered, appreciated, and supported?
- Spend 15 additional minutes thinking of other ideas. We’ve read (and experienced) that in every group discussion, there’s a “final 10%” thought that often goes uncommunicated because the discussion is cut too quickly. Identify your “this idea is so crazy that the rest of the team won’t even consider it” thought and share it!
Final Thought: Regardless of the vision you want to achieve, you need an action plan to get there. Allow thinking (rather than habit) to guide that plan.