3 Strategy Questions That Need Answered Before 2016

Did I happen to catch you in one of your final off-site strategy sessions?

Maybe you’re heavy into whiteboarding sessions, department reviews or perhaps, rounding the edges on what will be your go-forward strategy for 2016?

If so, perfect timing!

As 2015 runs down the final stretch, I thought it would be timely to explore some key questions as it relates to your business growth initiatives for 2016.  In fact, for the next three weeks,  I am going to bombard you with some last minute considerations, insight and thought leadership as it pertains to moving your organization and teams to the next level in 2016.

In an October post entitled, 10 Reasons Why Your Strategy Isn’t Working, I outlined some of the common mistakes we make as leaders when it comes to growth strategy.  One critical area of focus was the tendency that leaders have to blend or re-order the strategic planning process with the business strategy.  The important distinction was that your strategic plan should be the instruction manual for your overall strategy.

In an effort to help you get your overall business growth strategy more dialed-in prior to the planning phase, I’ve outlined three questions for self-reflection or that you might utilize as part of a year-end strategy session with your team.

I’m certain you’ve had the chance to use a mapping program on your phone or desktop before, right?  Subconsciously, we’ve all used the zooming tools (pinching in and out!) to see where we’re going, where we’ve been, or even, if there are alternative routes to our destination.

While many of us are most concerned with the ‘next turn’ or the traffic on our current route, it’s time to zoom-out.  These three questions are your zooming tools:

What New Discoveries Did You Make in 2015?

You need to be simultaneously serving markets and building new ones – this is at the heart of strategy.  So, how do you know which ones to build for your business?  Learning, insight, and discovery.  The learning organization is a growing organization.

Very specifically, what new learnings did you capture in 2015?  These learnings might originate in the form of market research, industry trends, competitive intelligence, target audience focus groups, discoveries you’ve made through better data analytics in your business, or even as simple as garnering a deeper insights into your end-user’s unfulfilled needs as it relates your product or service.

These insights should illuminate possibilities for your products or services to serve a new segment of customers,  a new demographic of customers or perhaps customers in a new geography.  Discoveries that drive growth unearth the underserved markets for your products and services.

As a Result, What New Growth Initiatives Will You Establish?

Now that you’ve discovered possible markets for new growth, next on the agenda is establishing some priority areas for growth in 2016.  In other words, which new markets will you pursue?  In some organizations, the discovery process can lead to a long wish list of ‘shiny’ opportunities.  While they may all have some merit, further analysis should help you prioritize the growth initiatives against the investment you wish to allocate for each. Here are 5 additional filters that might help you determine which initiatives to pursue:

  • What is the size of the market you wish to reach?
  • How relevant are your core competencies in that particular market?
  • How important is this particular customer segment or market to your business now and in the long-term?
  • Can you bring more, new or better value to this new customer segment with your offering?
  • What, if any, new capabilities will you need to build to reach a particular market?

Who Will Lead Your Growth Initiatives in 2016?

Finally, perhaps most critical at this point are the beginning discussions on ‘who’, from a leadership standpoint, will be accountable for driving a particular growth initiative forward.  Deciding on where you will grow as a business is first.  Deciding how you will do it is next.  The ‘how’ starts with ‘who’.  Specifically, you need to define your ideal ‘who’ first and then look to the current organization to evaluate a possible fit – not the reverse.  You may need to find different talent for specific growth initiatives.  When well-defined and research-backed growth initiatives sputter, look first at how (and, in what order) you addressed the ‘who’ part of the puzzle.

Getting the right leadership in place behind your most important growth initiatives is how you demonstrate commitment to a growth initiative.  It then becomes that leader’s role to put the right structure, talent and tactical plan in place to bring it to life.

Closing Thoughts

Don’t miss this opportunity to zoom-out on your business and get the growth strategy right.  In addition to identifying and prioritizing new markets for growth, you’ll find the exploration extra insightful to how you continue to grow in your existing markets.  Not to mention the value in exploring your talent needs at a strategic and leadership level that’s consistent with your planned-for growth.

So, while we spent a lot of time on the ‘where’ in this particular article, stay tuned throughout December, as we begin to explore the ‘how’ as it relates to your growth strategy.

 

Work With Us

Are you or someone you know looking for assistance with getting your strategy ‘right’ for 2016?  You’re at the right place – we can help you with any and all of the above challenges. Get started with a FREE growth strategy audit session (45 minute consult) – signup here.

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