Delivering an Ambitious Growth Strategy
Strategy development and execution are vital focus areas for leaders.
At Karrikins Group, we’ve seen three specific ways leaders struggle: A side hustle mindset, a group dynamic of recycling conversations, and an ineffective set of processes. We want your strategy to support you in every way possible – and to help you redefine what is possible. Through solutions like our Dynamic Strategy, we are helping organizations like yours identify a clear growth strategy and leadership agreement.
Start learning more today by downloading our free resource, Strategy is Not a Side Hustle, by clicking the button below.
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Don’t Lead Towards A Strategy – Lead Through It
Treating Change as an Event is Destroying Your Organization
Evaluating your strategy: Is it ambitious enough? [Article]
Why Is Setting a Clear Strategy Important?
Setting and executing on a clear strategy that drives transformation is crucial in today’s business environment. At Karrikins Group we spend a lot of time with executives who are working out what they need to do next in their companies to transform their businesses and maintain an edge over the competition while staying a step ahead of what the market wants.
Setting an ambitious strategy is hard work, and companies invest a lot of time and energy into it. Unfortunately, the results can be lackluster, often because of the combination of unaligned execution and a strategy that lacks ambition.
Strategy Is Not a Side Hustle
There are groans and eye rolls that go along with the commencement of the annual process. These come along with prognostications about how it is just a waste of time, that the same conversations will happen in the same way with the same outcomes. And yet, as much as people might complain about the amount of time and effort required to develop strategy, they complain even more if they are excluded from the process!
Getting a seat at the strategy table is typically a sought-after form of recognition that belongs to an exclusive few and most will protect that seat at all costs. Take a 30-minute coffee break with Dr. Julie Williamson, who speaks on how to take strategy out of the annual review process and into business-as-usual.
7 Questions About Your Strategy That You Need to Ask Today
When you are setting a business strategy, there are seven key questions you should ask to understand if it is ambitious enough to drive transformation. These are based on the reality that if nothing changes, nothing changes. Your strategy must be bold enough to shake apart deeply held beliefs, relationships, and organizational habits, otherwise, it will fail to transform your company.
You can also use these questions to look back and evaluate how well your strategy was delivered. We have seen plenty of companies pat themselves on the back because they met the revenue targets in their strategy, but they did it through draconian cost reductions and goosing the existing revenue streams. These tactics only work for so long before causing internal burnout and market exhaustion. You can’t just measure based on bottom-line results. You must look at how those results were achieved to know if you were ambitious enough.
Your strategy must be bold enough to shake apart deeply held beliefs, relationships, and organizational habits.
Use these questions to challenge yourself and your team. Are you being ambitious enough? Are you really succeeding at transformative growth? Some of them might make you uncomfortable, but it is only through discomfort that ambitions are achieved.
1. What are the new / different sources of revenue?
More than just financial targets, which can be manipulated in the short term to look good, an ambitious strategy should alter what sources of revenue look like for a company. If you just intend to wring more out of the same markets, customers, products, or brands, you won’t go far enough.
2. What are the new / different cost drivers?
If the main cost drivers for the business haven’t been reshaped in some way, the strategy might fall short. Remember, though, that cutting costs shouldn’t be the ultimate goal. Spending in the right places at the right levels should be. Costs may go up in the near term to achieve an ambitious strategy.
3. What changes are required in your supply and distribution models?
Supply and distribution chains should change dramatically in an ambitious strategy. New relationships, partner models, and value creation should be explored – you may even need to prod your existing partners to be equally ambitious, and to work on new shared value models that force them to change.
4. What are the new capabilities your workforce will need?
Balancing the need for legacy skills with the skills of the future is one of the biggest challenges of any strategic transformation. Colleagues may be unsettled or even angry at the prospect of change, but if they aren’t changing as a result of your strategy, you will not transform your business.
5. What leadership habits and behaviors need to change to build an effective strategy?
Decision-making, leader behaviors, and group dynamics are deeply embedded impediments to ambitious strategies. Habits typically provide a level of comfort or reward, subtly incentivizing people to fall back into business as usual, not because of serious disagreement with the strategic plan, or the inability of the person to learn a new skill, but because of there is a degree of safety, reward and familiarity pulling individuals towards the old way of doing things. Does your strategy force the need to be specific about what needs to change? If the answer is ‘nothing’, you might not be pushing far enough, or your leaders are in the way of the ambition.
In every organization, there are tradeoffs that hold leaders back from aligning. We’ve come up with a handful that seem to happen everywhere, and the top four most common ones include:
- Letting short term financial pressure trump long term investments
- Prioritizing siloed success over organizational success
- Systems and processes that deliver reliable and predictable work while discouraging risk-taking and innovation
- Rewarding heroics more than investing in preventing a crisis
If any of those sound familiar, you may be in an organization where agreement is thought to be enough, and alignment doesn’t happen. Check out this article, “It’s up to them: Why leaders must do the hard work of alignment” to learn three reasons why you should invest in the hard work of aligning leaders.
6. What are the process outcomes that need to change?
Too often, processes are changed as new platforms or technologies are introduced, but they create the same outcomes, which isn’t much progress. An ambitious strategy needs to go beyond re-platforming and push into fundamentally changing the outcomes processes produce – doing the same steps in a new technology won’t accelerate your growth.
7. Who might leave the organization?
This might seem counterintuitive, but if no one feels compelled to leave because of the strategy, it may not be very ambitious. Senior leaders, experts, and tenured people should be expected to feel uncomfortable, and some of them may leave. That is not a bad thing, and when it happens it is important to remember the modern version of an old saying – ‘graveyards are full of indispensable people.’
Don’t Lead Towards a Strategy – Lead Through It
Below are insights from Julie Williamson, Ph.D., Chief Growth Enabler at Karrikins Group.
Strategies are helpful in painting a vision of the future that looks different from today. But, they are insufficient as a tool for leaders to transform an organization. The hard truth is, you can’t transform by just looking at your destination and hoping for the best no matter how beautifully rendered the strategy slides might be. You have to actually lead differently to get there.
There are three ways I’ve seen, as a Chief Growth Enabler, that people have success in leading through their strategy, not just to their strategy—and they are all things you can try today:
1. High visibility:
Share with your colleagues how you are thinking about the strategy and how it plays a role in your decision making. Creating visibility around your own thinking and how you activate the strategy as a tool is a powerful signal that the organization is moving in a clear direction.
2. Relentless consistency:
Go back to the strategy for every investment decision and insist that your colleagues do the same. Over time they will develop the habit of using the strategy to drive higher-impact conversations and to better inform decisions.
3. Ruthless honesty:
When it comes to strategy, it’s amazing how often people will contort their logic and interpret data to make something fit rather than making tough decisions and saying no to something that isn’t strategically aligned. Avoid doing this and leave your comfort zone. Just because you can make it fit doesn’t mean you should.
If you are tired of rehashing the same strategy year after year and frustrated by a lack of progress, try reframing your thinking and consider leading through your strategy, not to it. When you develop new habits and strengths as a leader, the outcomes can be tremendous.
Original Article Featured on Forbes: Don’t Lead Towards A Strategy–Lead Through It
The KARRIKINS Diamond Triangle™
Perhaps the best way to know that a strategy is ambitious enough is that it seems like it will be hard to accomplish. If it seems easy, you may not have tackled a big enough ambition. There are certainly years when a steady strategy is appropriate, but for the times when you want to unlock ambition, it should feel a little daunting as you lay it out.
We know delivering on strategy is both hard and worthy work. We have seen first-hand the positive impact of the KARRIKINS Diamond Triangle™ to help you succeed with your most ambitious strategies through the power of aligned leadership.
Ready to Lead Your Team in Developing and Delivering Confidently on an Ambitious Strategy?
Dynamic Strategy is a 6-week engagement focused on developing an iterative, flexible strategy that will infuse more energy into the day-to-day work of executing. During this process you will drive the leadership buy-in necessary to achieve ambitious goals. Through our time together with your team, you will all become more adept at defining strategy, leading through your strategy, routinely executing strategy, and adapting to changing circumstances.
The Karrikins Group Dynamic Strategy™ approach is designed to bring out the strengths needed for you to confidently and successfully lead your team as you set and execute your company’s strategy for the future.
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Connect with Brent
Brent Bowman leads our Dynamic Strategy practice. Connect with him to learn more about how to set and execute a dynamic strategy that accelerates growth.