A jack of all trades is the master of none, and the same is true in strategic planning. A daunting list of priorities is not only distracting, it slows growth.
According to research by Booz & Company, “As an executive team’s priority list grows, the company’s revenue growth in fact declines relative to its peers.” The reverse is true too. Companies that focus on one to three strategic priorities outperform their peers.
It’s Easier to be Unfocused
It’s commonly understood that multitasking hurts productivity, but we still do it. Doing one thing really well takes deliberate focus and energy.
Coming up with a long list of priorities isn’t productive either, but it is easier. There are always dozens of mixed priorities and tactics you can employ to grow your business. Then throw in multiple management pet projects — marketing wants new software, operations needs equipment, HR wants new procedures — and the priority list gets even bigger.
Whittling down a priority list to three powerful levers is easier said than done. It requires a strong management team:
- Committed to clearly defining the three things that need to happen this year to grow the business;
- Prepared to put everything else on the backburner.
Three Levers to Achieve Your Strategy
I emphasize “Three Levers” in Sticky Branding’s strategic planning engagements. We created the Brand Strategy Framework to help our clients distill their strategy onto one page.
The Framework has four core components:
- Vision: What is the brand aspiration? What’s its impact?
- Positioning: Where does the brand play and how does it win?
- Goals: What are the business objectives for the next 12 to 36 months?
- Three Levers: Define the Three Levers that your team needs to pull to achieve its goals. (These are your three priorities.)
The meat and potatoes of the strategic planning process is in the Three Levers. This is where you clearly define what needs to be accomplished.
For each of the Three Levers break them down into their base components:
- Description: Frame each Lever in relation to the business. This includes their strategic importance, and why the Lever is taking precedence over all other priorities.
- Tactics: Get into the weeds and articulate how your organization will pull the Lever. Often I recommend creating a specific budget and plan for each Lever. The details count, because this how you will convert a strategy into execution.
- Metrics and Milestones: How will you measure performance? What are the metrics and accomplishments that your team can use to track their progress on a daily or weekly basis?
Getting to Three Levers is a commitment. You and your team are making strategic choices of where your business will play, how it will win, and what it needs to accomplish over the next six to twelve months.
It’s hard work, but it’s so worth it. Clear thinking drives results. The clearer you and your team understand what needs to be accomplished the more likely you’ll reach your goals.