I have recently launched a new offering for my clients, The Strategy Powerhouse. The service was built on my realisation that most strategy efforts don’t lead to change and don’t lead to higher performance. They simply rearrange the company’s metaphorical deckchairs and fail to address the organisation’s fundamental drivers of profit or growth.
Successful organisations, on the other hand, build their strategy and their performance on five clear principles, which I have used to create The Strategy Powerhouse. These five principles – or superpowers – can be found in all businesses that have delivered sustained success.
The five superpowers are:
The power of shared insight. Successful organisations take time to review their performance, their position and their options. Their leaders work on their business, and not just in their business. They also take time to understand their company’s future opportunities and work to develop and build new creative solutions. Critically, the insights are shared – and not just held by a few people at the top – so that managers across the business are able to make congruent decisions. At Amazon, for instance, the leadership team meet weekly to review and discuss their biggest new ideas.
The power of strategic clarity. Successful businesses don’t simply try to understand how they can improve; they have a clear idea of what business they’re trying to create and a shared level of overall ambition. As Ian Filby, the CEO of DFS, once told me, “One of the big strategy lessons I have learned is that a strategy has to meet a clear goal. Without agreement about the goal, you’ll never settle on your strategy.”
The power of rapid action. A key power of highly-successful organisations is their ability to combine effective thinking and insight with rapid and timely action. Their leaders and managers have a desire and ability make things happen, but also have a learning mind-set that allows them to view the inevitable failures of trials and prototypes as stepping stones to success, and not as fatal errors. For instance, I listened to James Dyson being interviewed on the radio last week, and he was eulogising the power of action and failure as the only sure route to success.
The power of engagement and commitment. A strategy can’t be delivered by the top team alone. In addition to a clear ‘top-down’ direction, there must also be ‘bottom-up’ pull for the ideas and solutions to be created, take hold and succeed. At Boots, for instance, I worked with Richard Baker who, as CEO, ensured that he shared the company’s strategy – and the underlying reason for it – with everyone he came across. The result was that teams from right across the business felt involved with creating the future of the business – rather than simply delivering short-term results – and wanted to make sure that they were part of that success.
The power of delivery discipline. I’ve left the most important superpower to the end. Success ultimately goes to those companies that stick at it. These organisations have ways to review progress of their biggest initiatives, address issues and make improvements. During Asda’s revival in the early 1990s, for example, the leadership team met every Monday morning at one of their stores to review the latest improvements to the grocer’s most important product, retail and merchandising initiatives. Critically, delivery discipline is more about mind-set than it is about having big pockets. This means that success doesn’t necessarily go to the biggest business, but to the most persistent. Or, as I like to put it, willpower beats horsepower.
How does your business rate on each of these five superpowers? And which of them could you work on to increase the growth and profitability of your organisation?
© Stuart Cross 2017. All rights reserved.