4 Ways to Develop Strategic Focus in Your Organization
Organizations devote a significant amount of resources into planning for their future success. But then they fall short. And are left wondering why they didn’t accomplish their most important objectives.
In many cases, it’s due to subpar strategic focus within the organization.
Strategic focus is when an organization is clear about its mission and vision with a coherent, well-articulated strategy for achieving them. For strategic focus to drive execution at a high level, it has to be operationalized. It must be integrated into the ways of conducting “business as usual”.
Here are 4 ways to develop strategic focus in your organization:
1. Don’t let ambition get in the way of progress. In other words, don’t do too much.
Being strategic is just as much about what you’re going to do as it is what you’re NOT going to do. I’ve frequently seen organizations with massive strategic plans and goals that are, for the most part, achievable.
What’s not achievable is the number of goals they set out to accomplish. Especially considering their given resources and constraints.
There’s no shortage of great ideas and things that can be done to make your organization better.
It all comes down to the capacity to execute. Being too ambitious and attempting to take on too much can cause your efforts to be scattered. This inhibits you from being an “A Player” in any one area. In most cases, it makes more sense to be an “A Player” in a few areas than a “C, D, or F Player” in many areas.
Be strategic about what you’re NOT going to do. Focus your efforts on less work. This will increase the odds of successfully executing your most important initiatives.
2. Be willing to fail…. fast.
No one likes the idea of failing, but the most agile and successful leaders realize that some things just don’t work.
The goal shouldn’t be to never fail at anything or to never quit anything. The goal should be to identify what’s working and what’s not working as quickly as possible. And what’s not working? Quit it.
This will allow room to invest in specifically what works well. In the process, you minimize losses and save time, energy, resources, and capital.
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3. Dedicate time to talk about what matters….and ONLY what matters.
Have a cadence of accountability to discuss the status of strategic projects. Discussing initiatives and important milestones is imperative.
But, too often meetings fall off of the calendar or get derailed by items that aren’t on the agenda. Or, the agenda will be loaded with items to cover. Been there? Then there isn’t enough time to discuss what really matters for strategy execution.
Dedicate a meeting to discuss how you’re performing on your various strategic initiatives.
This meeting should almost exclusively cover items related to executing your strategies. Begin the meeting discussing what’s off track and at risk and how to remove barriers to success. End the meeting highlighting or celebrating what’s on track and what’s been achieved. This is a quick and easy way to recognize success and capture the wins.
4. Overcommunicate. Repetition is Effective.
Studies show that the more a person hears something, the more the brain responds and remembers. But, in Ian Cornett’s article, Why Effective Communication Requires Repetition, he points out other important benefits of repetition:
- It ensures clarity. A message delivered only once or twice doesn’t always hit its intended target. If someone is listening only superficially or is distracted in some way, they can miss the key point of a message or not hear it at all.
- It helps break down resistance. If a team leader delivers a message to the team only once or twice and everyone is not in agreement, people can resist by simply ignoring the message. When only heard once, people “tune out” a one-off message and go about their day. They can actively resist by insisting they didn’t hear or understand the message. However, if the leader repeats the message and seeks out agreement and comprehension from all members of the team, any resistance to the message can be identified and resolved
- It ensures no one is left out. In an organization with many different functions, teams, or levels, an important message about company strategy needs to be repeated many times by many people for everyone to be included. Organizational leaders must remain committed to communicating messages consistently, ensuring that everyone on their team receives and fully understands all key messages.
Your organizational strategy is important. And here’s what you want:
- Everyone to hear your messaging about it
- Everyone to hear it clearly
- Everyone to be bought in
For this reason, utilizing repetition is an effective tool to develop your organization’s strategic focus.
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