Although senior leaders do many things correctly in their strategy planning they often end up holding the short end of the stick. They immerse themselves with their teams in strategic ideation and identify creative ways they think they can grow their organization. They spend both a lot of time and an equal amount of money to support this process but often end up with little to no improvement. I worked with one client who had been trying to launch a new product for years by constantly refining their strategy to no avail.
The key to their particular situation was to knock down the presumption that their annual plan should be an annual plan! Their industry moved far too quickly to successfully launch anything new using a singular or multi-year timeframe. For this client, it was preferable to stop using an annualized strategic plan as it is traditionally defined and start using a performance driven model. This allowed the client to stay ahead of market swings by continuously assessing and changing their emphasis based upon new market data and business intelligence.
This “Paradigm Shift” brought them major value by moving from Managing “Outcomes” versus “Managing Outputs” using a measurable amount of change to drive their strategy.
By discovering what their customers needed and truly valued next, they were able to confidently push features out the door that lead to products with features they wanted. This one change had a major impact on the company’s success. Rather than simply offering new features that were the company’s best guesses at what their customers wanted, they provided Outcomes that their Customers had requested.
In other words, “Build it and they will come” was thrown out the window and replaced with close contact with customers with decision-making pushed down to those closest to the customers and products. This data-information system was infinitely superior to top executive guesswork and provided an extremely healthy basis of communication from the bottom up versus the traditional top-down decision-making.
By letting the organization’s teams self-organize and drive product development they were able to incrementally plan the company out of its stalled condition and move into a high growth mode. This would not have been possible if the senior leaders were unwilling to let go of the reins and shorten their annual planning to week-to-week planning.