Every year there are 32 NFL football teams that start the year with the same goal to win the Superbowl. All the teams have great coaches, great players, and great strategies, but only one ultimately wins. So, what is the secret to winning?
“The secret is to work less as individuals and more as a team. As a coach, I play not by eleven best, but my best eleven.” Knute Rockne. At the end of the day, “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.” Lt. General George S. Patton Jr. So, a “good plan” executed by a “high performing team” will win the day and is what every executive should strive for. A perfect plan executed by a mediocre or poor team will not win the day.
So, the process of creating a solid business strategy coupled with creating a high performing team to execute the strategic plan is the most challenging aspect of running a business. It is not enough to simply have a vision or a marketing slogan. A company must be able to identify the key activities required to turn its vision into reality. Once the strategy is identified then discipline and focus is required to execute the strategic initiatives. Therefore, building a high performing team to execute the strategic plan is as important as creating the business strategy in the first place.
What is business strategy and why is it important to have a business strategy:
Business strategy is an explicit statement of short and long-term goals, objectives, and direction for the organization. The process of creating a strategy enables the company to create a roadmap for its future success and to decide on a clearly defined roadmap for achieving those objectives. A business strategy identifies where a business will compete and how it will go-to-market to win. The business needs to understand how its capabilities, assets, and resources are to be utilized to create a unique and successful strategy. In addition, the strategy addresses the market, competitors, customers, staff, processes, and technology in the short and long term.
Business strategy helps organizations build a long-term competitive advantage. One problem with traditional approaches to strategy is that it focuses too much on the short-term; that is, doing what is best to get the most profit for shareholders. A sub-theme of this short-term focus is the impatience with organization’s development. It’s common to see executives impatient with the processes and goals of the organization. Great managers understand that setting timelines is fine. However, without enough vision and time horizon, organizations will struggle to achieve their goals. Strategy is about establishing long-term objectives to achieve long-term goals. It reflects the inherent tensions between the idea of competing for wins now and the long-term, where neither can completely win. Therefore, it is important to have a well-defined strategy that defines that short and long-term vision and direction for the whole organization and gives the staff a clear goal and mission. A well-defined strategy statement will help ensure staff are aligned with and do not lose sight of the company’s aim.
A solid business strategy is built upon the identification and execution of key strategic initiatives required to turn strategy into reality:
It takes an analysis of competition, marketplace, and gaps between current capabilities and desired state to identify the key activities and strategic initiatives required to turn a strategy into reality. These initiatives need to be prioritized based upon positive impact to the organization and difficulty to implement before they are prioritized into an overall strategic plan.
The purpose of a strategic plan is to set out the time frame for achieving the company’s strategic objectives. Strategic objectives are made up of short and long-term strategic initiatives that are interdependent across the organization and affect financial, customer, business processes, and talent among other functional areas. The strategic plan also identifies who is ultimately accountable for leading and accomplishing each strategic initiative and the date in which its completion is due.
In addition, a financial model is typically created to support the strategic plan, which identifies the Key Performance Indicators or KPI’s that can be “stress tested” and will need to be optimized to achieve and surpass the financial goals of the strategic plan.
Building a high performing team is the key to executing a business strategy:
Building high performing teams requires an assessment of the current culture and staff, identification of the ideal culture and values, and building frameworks to nurture, support, and ensure desired employee behavior. A high performing team is a team that consistently achieves its goals and delivers results for the business. When building a high performing team, it’s important to remember that while talent is important, it is only effective if the talent enhances the performance of the rest of the team and contributes ideas, insights, and skills that no one else on the team has. When you have high performing teams, you can build a lean, agile, and high performing organization that can adapt to changing environment. Although it’s impossible to achieve extraordinary results and grow profit by taking shortcuts, it’s possible to get there by being open to changing ideas, acquiring new information, embracing failure, and continually re-evaluating your ideas and strategies to ensure they’re still effective.
It is also critical to build a culture of excellence in an organization. A cultural strategy is a based upon a set of shared core values and an environment of integrity and trust in which everyone works in the best interest of the team. Once this occurs, staff are encouraged to apply their skills and knowledge and to push boundaries to solve business problems and thereby propel the organization forward with highly collaborative and innovative solutions.
Your business will not be successful unless strategy, execution, and people all work together in harmony. Therefore, it is crucial to have a solid business strategy that is broken down into strategic objectives and initiatives that are prioritized and executed by a high-performing team working within a high-performing culture.