In my experience, the management teams that lead the best performing businesses are those that incorporate at least three key strategic questions into almost every operational and status discussion.
What are Your Teams Talking About?
The gross majority of the dialogue in an organization is about How, and Who and When and the important What and Why issues are left for strategy meetings and other "high-level" discussions. While understandable in the hectic pace of the workday, the shortage of these important What and Why discussions reinforces a dangerous form of operational myopia, where the underlying and unspoken assumption is: If we simply get this done, we'll be better off as a firm.
No disrespect nor trivialization intended for operations and execution. Getting it done is critical. However, my premise is that you can strengthen (without paralyzing) the quality of these discussions (particularly management and project team discussions) and potentially uncover new ideas or cross-check long-standing assumptions, with the regular inclusion of a few key questions.
3 Key Strategy Teams to Ask Your Teams Regularly:
1. How does this initiative help us grow/create power? (Power: new customers, new revenue in current customers, new revenue in new/adjacent markets, market share). If it doesn't directly tie to or enable the creation of power, why are you doing it?
2. How meaningfully different is this to our clients? So many ideas are good in isolation…promoted by people passionate about their offerings, but ultimately, they are not meaningful enough to clients to prompt action (investment, change, trade-out etc.). While not all clients can articulate what they want (as Steve Jobs taught us most recently), your team must be able to substantiate that the initiative is one that will prompt action.
3. How defensible is our approach versus our most dangerous competitors? Too many "me too" and easily replicated initiatives is a formula for stagnation or decline. If you cannot pass this critical acid-test question, something is wrong.
The Bottom-Line for Now:
These are just a few of the important questions that must be regularly asked and answered in the course of forming, assessing and adjusting strategy. However, instead of saving all of the good questions for the offsites, start immediately incorporate these three in your management and status meetings, and you'll dramatically increase the quantity of meaningful dialogue (and action) taking place every day.
Want More? Check out Art Petty's latest book, Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development. Created for fast-moving and highly motivated professionals and leaders, Leadership Caffeine offers more than 80 short, idea-packed essays for the critical leadership and professional development situations in your life.
Art Petty is a Leadership & Career Coach and Strategy Consultant, helping motivated professionals of all levels achieve their potential. In addition to working with highly motivated professionals, Art frequently works with project teams in pursuit of high performance.
Thanks to Art Petty / Art Petty and Strategy & Management-Innovations, LLC.
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