I have seen a lot of failed strategies with companies, as I am sure you have as well. These strategies come in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes they are an idea on the back of a napkin. Sometimes they are a copy or slight modification of a competitor’s strategy, sometimes they are a fancy PowerPoint full of charts with hockey stick curves. The same is true for the personal strategies to get us where we want to go in life.
It is easy to get excited about an idea or a strategy that you just “know” is going to work and make you successful. It is easy to rush in and start executing on that strategy to bring it to fruition as soon as possible. On the other end of it all though, it is not a pretty sight to see an organization, or person, fall flat on their face, after being filled with so much hope and grandeur of success.
When an idea comes about and you just have all the confidence in the world that it is a great strategy, create a plan, DO NOT rush into it without getting things figured out. In the technology industry, where I have worked with a lot of organizations, I have seen many organizations, get into some new technology, association, service, or other supposedly great idea. They often will rush into it and then realize that on the backside they are losing money because of how difficult it is to support or bill the product/service. This is true across many industries and strategies.
When you begin to develop a plan for a strategy there are several things that have to be figured out:
- What is the market for the strategy?
- What niche(s) will you be focusing on?
- What is the viable target(s) within that market and niche?
- What is the expected penetration ratio for that niche? (Don’t do this: “If only .01% of the market buys our product, we’ll be making a killing…”) You need to look at research, talk to potential customers, and determine the true demand.
- How will you deliver on this strategy?
- What are the costs to deliver the strategy?
- What is the make-up of the offering for this strategy?
- What materials will need to be developed to sale and support the strategy?
- How will you support the strategy?
- What is your process for selling and marketing this strategy?
- How will you make money with this strategy?
- What is the true cost of the strategy?
- Do you have enough people, or the right people to effectively deliver this strategy?
- Do you have the right systems to deliver the strategy?
- How can you test the strategy to ensure it will work?
- How much work will be involved and at what cost to implement this strategy?
- Why is the strategy a good idea?
- How will you measure success of the strategy?
- Is this strategy in line with your mission, vision and values?
- and lots more…
Many of these points are for a strategy consisting of selling a product or service. Some of the questions still apply for other types of strategies. An acquisition strategy will have potentially hundreds of questions.
The point is you have to ask the right questions, and then answer them. The field is not always greener on the other side. By properly planning for a strategy, sometimes that planning will reveal that it is not a good strategy at all. In that case you can scrap it, and focus on more important strategies. If the plan reveals it is a good strategy, now is time to covert that strategic plan into an execution plan, and start executing.
Many people I’ve worked with on planning, think that planning has to be this long arduous task, and that if they took the time to plan out a strategy, the opportunity would pass them by. That is rarely the case. If that is the case with a strategy, you are probably already too late anyway. If you were to plan things out, you might realize that there are ways to modify the strategy to make it better than a competitor’s.
There are many types of plans, and a strategic plan is something to take seriously. No organization or person wants to end-up falling on their face, broke, and with lots of regrets.
Please share your thoughts in the comments section.