In this dawn of FY17, as you reimagine or refine the strategy roads you'll lead your organisation along, here are ten amber traffic lights to pause at and think before progressing on your choices.
- DNA – this human, systems and infrastructure matrix you’re part of, when looked at closely in a mirror, can be seen to have been designed to serve a Purpose. It might have a few bonus off-label indications, but it has limits to what it can do exceptionally well or the number of ways it can benefit the Universe. Know them, these fundamentals. Know the strategic implications that Purpose gives rise to, and start by working with what you have.
- Direction – a crystal clarity of destination, of destiny and desired legacy, leads to honesty and engagement and better shot selection and alignment of those that share a hunger for it. Set it, hold focus on it, pick mates for it, chart for it always.
- Depth – there are high flying aerialists, there are market surface skimmers, there are submerged current riders and there are bottom divers. All can thrive, all can be valuable, but they are built differently and they need different strategies. Understand how deep you need to go in technical aptitude, or service commitments, or pushing through challenge barriers, or in scale. Set your cistern float accordingly.
- Data – be it your own of historical making, or new intelligence you need to source about the terrain or client desires or manifesting risks... Plucking ideas and making the biggest calls without doing appropriate homework is insufficient, irresponsible and likely ill-fated. Inform your picks, long, broad and smart.
- Drive – take a frank pill to confront just how much you and your homies want it. Get real about your collective willingness to push through pain, to endure rain and continue taking sharp breaths as risk rats bite and bite again. If endurance, persistence and longevity compared to the flighty and flakey are decent predictors of success (and they’re pretty good, I think), then know that your choices have to be aligned with your drive to implement and bear them awhile. A long awhile.
- Do – what will the handful of super acts be? Where will the biggest bang for the smallest push come from? What small number of priorities does data, history, wise heads, scouting eyes and backing your judgment tell you will get you up Purpose Mountain? That stuff? Do it.
- Dump – the rest. As quickly and responsibly as humanly possible. Because Newton’s cradle needs as much energy straight-lined and tightly abutting to propel you forward in a predictable vector. Anything skewing alignment, distracting focus, diverting resources…. show it the road.
- Dynamism – because strategy isn’t ever forever. Because the market forces and internal situations change like Nick Kyrigous’ on-court demeanor. So understanding the logical or semi-predictable flex points that are ahead; imaging when and how and what’ll be required and how the team will react when these forces falcon into you (and then prepping to go Route B anyway) is the job of a modern strategic leader with a future. Be ever ready to right turn.
- Dirigibility – how easily or nimbly the airship can be steered. The present leader might have mastered the nuances and knows all the subtle dips on the old pool table surface, but how well, how quickly can it be picked up by others? Does the succession plan have pilot training underway? Are you ready to shift the deck chairs at a moments notice and retain confidence that the Zepplin will stay airborne? Ensure your strategy is pilotable.
- Diligence – Measuring, managing, doing what you say and saying what you’ll do next. Owning versus handballing. Studying as much as you spitball. Protocol, process, step-wise review and aligned refinement, forever. Being the grown-up with the long term eyeballs and the perpetual massaging fingers. Govern.
Amber lights don't stay amber long - your strategy has to start work in 3 seconds time. Use the moment that is now to check your dials, shore your confidence, understand your journey ahead and back in a strategy that'll get you up the right road.
Troy Forrest is a specialist strategy & planning workshop designer and facilitator.