The New Year always brings a clean slate. The leadership team sits down to create the year’s strategy with great fervor and anticipation. It’s hard to imagine anything more important than the objectives documented in that strategy. They pack the strategy away and start marching down the road, initiating a series of projects that will fulfill these documented objectives.
But then, life happens. The competitive landscape changes. New regulations are put in place. The economic environment shifts. Suddenly, the strategy is being questioned as department leaders bring forward new projects throughout the year that challenge the current priorities.
Unfortunately, the world just doesn’t hold still and many strategy documents are outdated the moment they are distributed throughout the organization. Many departments simply placed it on the shelf and continue life as normal.
A documented strategy is a necessity to keep the organization focused and on target to achieve its business goals. Just as time doesn’t hold still, neither should a strategy. Given the accelerating pace of business change, today’s strategies need to be flexible and dynamic. While that all sounds good, the devil’s in the details.
The best way to create a dynamic strategy is to build a Results Network Scheme Map that shows the desired objectives from the strategy on the right and all of the initiatives and supporting projects on the left. Drawing lines, connect the projects to the initiatives and the initiatives to the objectives. Additional information can be added with color, size, and commentary to denote priority or impact.
As new initiatives are proposed in response to business changes, they should be overlaid onto the Results Network Scheme Map so that their impact can be assessed against current initiatives, both positively and negatively. Use this map as a tool to understand whether to pursue a new direction, defer it, or take it off the table completely.
Sometimes, the near-term benefits of a new initiative will have minimal or no long-term, sustainable benefit. The map will help guide those decisions keeping the focus on the results desired.
For example, sales may propose a complex sales campaign that may significantly influence sales in the current quarter but may distract resources involved in other, long-term initiatives. The Results Network Scheme Map would provide the visibility needed to see what projects are currently underway and how they support the objectives, which would be the basis for assessing any trade-offs.
Going forward, the Results Network Scheme Map becomes a part of every planning and review meeting, keeping the long-term projects and initiatives in focus—something that can be difficult to do when short-term fires are burning.
Gone are the days of a static, slowly-changing business. And, as such, gone are the days of a static strategy. Today’s strategy must be dynamic in order to guide the business through a changing environment. Mapping initiatives to objectives will provide the tool to objectively determine when to change direction.
Barnard Howard can help your organization successfully manage the many directional changes you’ll make on your strategic journey with our Results Network solution. We’re experts in identifying and mapping initiatives to objectives in a dynamic strategy. Contact us to learn more.