Now is a Good Time to Spring Clean (Your Strategy)
Imagine a house built in the 1970s, with an addition from the early ‘80s, a new garage built in the ‘90s, and finally an extension from the early 2000s. Houses with a variety of additions and changes from different periods can often lack cohesion and ultimately lose their functionality. Corporate strategies aren’t all that different. They tend to expand over time, and the end result is a cobbled together approach with a wide range of goals at different levels of the organization. Strategies are often the byproduct of different leadership visions and various special projects and initiatives that blend together in one messy strategy drawer. Just like many people take time each spring to organize the junk drawers and dust the base boards, I’m a believer in regularly revisiting strategies to ensure they stay relevant and fresh. Don’t let the current chaos of the world trick you into thinking you can’t spring clean your strategy. Now is actually a great time. Consider the following opportunities for refresh:
- Clarify your ideal customer profiles and target markets, and the reason they do business with you. Would everyone in your company describe it the same way?
- Focus on two or three projects or efforts that will get you through the next 90-120 days. That gives you enough runway to survive the COVID-19 shutdowns (based on what many projections indicate) and emerge with strength.
- Cut, or at least press pause on initiatives that don’t directly benefit customers. Clients must value and be willing to pay for anything you are doing.
David Collis and Michael Rukstad wrote over a decade ago that “Most executives cannot articulate their strategy in a simple statement.” Spring Clean your strategy to make sure you can!
What’s Good About Today:
There sure are a lot of things to grumble about these days, and believe me, I do my fair share. But as the weeks go on, I’ve found myself enjoying little elements of the stay-at-home, semi-quarantine life. I think it’s important to acknowledge what’s working. You never know, when the storm passes, we may find ways to incorporate the good things into our ‘new’ normal. A few things I’ve come to appreciate in this temporary, not ideal, normal:
- Control over time – I have more control over what I do and don’t attend. I get to skip some things that I didn’t feel like doing or going to in the first place, but would have before this new normal.
- Excuse to recluse – I like my alone time! I will pick a quiet night at home over an evening out on most days, and the temporary pause in social obligations and public gatherings has allowed me to fully embrace my homebody tendencies. I’m catching up on the entire Star Wars: Clone Wars series and like many of you, brushing up on my cooking skills.
- No traveling, even to local meetings – I’ve enjoyed not having to “be” anywhere except in front of my computer for a meeting. It’s been startling to realize how much time I spend in transit between places in my non-COVID life.
- Hello, five o’clock shadow! – I love not having to shave as much. It turns out Zoom is forgiving and I can totally get away with missing a day, even when I’m “with” clients!
- ZZZZ’s – I’ve been getting an extra hour of sleep each night and it is fantastic. I’ve prioritized sleep for my health, immunity, and mood… and it’s at least helped with health. Mood? Ask my 16-year-old daughter.
Speaking of my 16-year-old daughter, she doesn’t miss school one bit. She sleeps a few hours later than usual, gets her school work done in 3-4 focused hours with the company of our dogs, then has a few hours to chill before we meet up for dinner and family time. She misses her friends and activities, but her attitude has helped me see that this hasn’t been all bad for us.
There are small things about our changed daily lives that may feel like a relief, if not even a little good. I can’t help but feel that there is something about the way we spend time together, trying to be more present, considering what’s meaningful, to take away from all of this. It’s worth asking ourselves, ‘what is good about today?’ each and every day we go through this. In candor, I’ve wondered if we’ll even miss some of these times when this moment has passed.
Italians sang off their balconies, and Spaniards banged pots and pans together. As these evening quarantine traditions made their way across the pond, we have seen the addition of cowbells, cheering, and even howling. Cities and towns across the US have taken to hooting, hollering, and howling to express gratitude for frontline workers and connect with neighbors during this time of isolation.
Don’t underestimate the impact small signs of solidarity can have on people. Even the smallest actions by leaders can change the tone and tenor throughout your organization. When leaders encourage appreciation and connection in their organization, they make an impact on all results from innovation to revenue growth. Everyone likes to feel appreciated up and down the ladder.
And finally, we should all be inspired by teachers. Talk about small actions making a big impact!
Harvard Business Review just published this article that discusses AI and how you should go right to scaling instead of waiting for proof of concept. While this may be new territory for many there is still time to lay the groundwork and get ahead.