Over the years, I have sat through my fair share of quota meetings. They almost all seem to run identically. Last year, your organization reached $XX in revenue. In your Jan. 1 all-hands meeting, the CEO says, “Great job, but this year let’s do 1.5 times that; thanks for all of your hard work, let’s make 2020 the best yet!”
You leave the meeting slightly dejected as you try to quickly recover from a long, grinding 2019 and gear up to do just 150% of the job you did last year. Easy right? If you hit the goal, yes, you’ll make more money and help more clients with your services. But to hit the goal requires clear focus, proven techniques and methodical execution. You can’t just take your 2019 KPIs and multiply them by 1.5 and expect to achieve your goal.
Related Read: Why Strategy Gets Stuck
Whether you work in sales, marketing, finance, operations, etc., you can likely relate to a similar type of meeting. The reality is there are too many meetings that take place in which bosses hand down new numbers for each department without giving any context given as to where those numbers originated. What’s more, many times those numbers don’t connect to a high-level corporate strategy. Instead, they are generated in a departmental silo because they “sound good.”
A big reason we fail to hit corporate goals, especially those that are quantifiably based, is because we often don’t have a strategic strategy. We may know inherently how we want to move our organizations and departments forward and what that might look like, but we don’t take the time to document and analyze our strategy. This problem often starts and stops with leadership. If leadership fails to set strategic, viable goals, employees are left scrambling and will often cut corners. That’s when the quality of your product or service starts to suffer, along with team morale.
It All Comes Back to Strategy
At the end of the day, any solid growth imperative begins with a solid strategy. It’s a term that while essential, often gets misconstrued and misused. Merriam-Webster defines strategy as a careful plan or method. At every level of an organization, leaders must have a goal and a plan to hit that goal. They usually utilize measuring activities, KPI’s and even some qualitative metric to assess progress against the goal. That plan is generally approved by a manager, communicated to the staff and then shelved for 11 months until it’s time to draft another plan to hit next year’s lofty goals. What begins with good intentions typically doesn’t achieve its intended outcome.
What if we challenged our framework for strategic planning and shifted from “doing good work better” to “doing good work differently.” Oftentimes, our ability to hit big corporate milestones hinges on our ability to approach the problem/opportunity from a different perspective. It involves us trying something new, challenging our beliefs and strengthening the way we operate. It is rarely about doing everything we did last year better, faster and cheaper.
You May Also Like: Knowing When it’s Time to Throw Out the Business School Rules
In his popular Harvard Business Review paper aptly titled “What is Strategy,” Michael Porter, an economist, researcher, author, advisor, speaker and teacher, defines “competitive strategy [as] being different. It means deliberately choosing a different set of activities to deliver a unique mix of value.”
In order to innovate and move forward, you need to lean on the ideas and perspectives of your talented, passionate team to be differentiated. In a meeting recently, a partner commented “the riches are in the niches,” and I couldn’t agree more. When people within an organization have a clear, well-defined strategic vision, amazing things begin to happen. Instead of continuing to force their way down the path that was once laid out for them, they’ll begin to take more ownership and autonomy; figuring out new ways to achieve more with less and getting creative in finding solutions to new problems.
A good example of this paradigm has been on display for two decades right in our backyard, the New England Patriots. A team that was once so awful that they weren’t shown on local television is now the class of the NFL.
How does this happen?
Well it starts at the top. Typically—and to this day—coaches come to a new team to implement their new offensive and defensive system. To varying degrees, they’ll have success and if one player works well for the team, they’ll funnel all their money and resources to that player. What Patriots Coach Bill Belichick does is a complete departure to the typical strategy other teams are using. Instead, the Patriots will change their offensive and defensive schemes each year (even weekly, during the season) to fit the players they have on the roster. While they could pay Tom Brady a max contract yearly, they instead opt for a much lower salary so they can spread the money around to round out the roster with quality players. In fact, there are 12 quarterbacks that will make more money than Tom Brady this year. 12! That’s for arguably the best player in the history of the NFL. The Patriots continue to move along, currently at the top of their division with their eyes on the one goal laid ahead of them at the beginning of the year: win the championship.
So as we get closer to welcoming the start of a New Year, now’s a great time to step back and objectively observe your organization.
Can your employees clearly define one or two overarching goals for the organization?
Are they empowered to find new and creative ways to create value for your clients?
Are you utilizing everyone for their strengths or is everyone measured and utilized in the same manner?
Is your strategy actually strategic?
These are just a couple of quick questions you can ask to take inventory on your strategic mission. It may not be easy, but once you have a strong competitive strategy, hold on—because your organization will start to grow and flourish in a way you never thought.
Take that step!
Trilix partners with companies like yours on turning great ideas into noteworthy success. Click here to learn more about our Strategy Execution Assessment and start accelerating your transformation.