Many of you have heard me exclaim, “Hope is not a strategy!” Now, don’t get me wrong – I love a sense of hope. I find it awe-inspiring and have written about that before in the Transform blog, but hope without a strategy will only get you so far in the real world of business and success.
My mind loves the focus, energy, and fun of working on strategy, of having a great plan. In my coaching sessions, I frequently notice the value of creating a great strategy through seeing the negative impact(s) of not having one. Now to be fair, not everyone enjoys strategizing like I do, and that’s okay. My ability to play chess in my mind with the situations my clients face – such as getting work groups to truly come together to work as a team or closing a sought-after prospect – helps me with job security.
A great strategy is simply a proactive, high-level plan for achieving your goal that involves both critical thinking and instinct.
In order to take your skills to the next level, work to develop your powers of discernment. According to the dictionary definition, discernment is the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure. Another way to say it is to be able to see how things are really fitting together – or not, to be able to hear what is real and what’s not. It’s also important to identify your current and past assumptions and check these against actual current-day truth. Great strategies have to account for the whole picture, the real picture, not just the obvious or what you hope is true.
Having good, solid processes helps with strategy. It’s easier to achieve your goals when you already have a supportive infrastructure in place. Remember to review your processes to make sure they are up to date, still impactful and helping you achieve the strategic direction you desire.
When strategizing, including differing perspectives is judicious when you think you may be too close to the situation. Learning to be honest with yourself helps you to see when it’s time to bring in others. Being strategic about whom you include is kinda – no, really – important, so think it through before you marshal your resources. Consider who would best-suited to help. Never, ever forget that the most effective strategy will happen when you understand and take into account the perspective of people involved in the situation.
Luckily, strategy can be cultivated through practice, especially if you learn from people who have a high level of mastery in the area of strategic thinking. For example, my dad would often say to me, “Mary Anne, you are working the wrong end of the problem.” It’s a message I have taken to heart and find very useful when strategically solving a problem.
As you practice, look at what went well and why, what didn’t work and why? The lessons you learn will guide you moving forward.
Taking the necessary time to strategize always pays off from both an efficiency perspective and a results perspective. Always remember that a plan without implementation is not worth much.
I really hope you will go practice!
By Mary Anne Wampler,
PRINCIPAL, TRANSFORM, INC.