“What are the greatest challenges you face?”
This was the question I posed to stimulate a brainstorming exercise during a recent Strategic Thinking Workshop.
“Too many goals. We have too many goals put upon us.” Said one soft-spoken participant.
Heads of the other participants nodded in agreement.
“And it is assumed we can deal with it.” Said another woman around the table.
“I do what I can, but I can’t take all of them seriously.”
Yikes! How horrible that this dedicated manager has given up before she’s even started. It made me wonder how often does this happen?
By defining new goals each year leadership teams are seeking to fulfill their direction-setting role. But if it is not clear how to integrate these goals into existing priorities, well-intended leaders will increase resistance rather than motivate action.
Applying strategic thinking principles can help increase the alignment and adoption of goals.
- Clarify the CONTEXT within which these goals are defined. Start by setting the stage for the goal.
Let’s say you are part of an established business with a solid customer base and a very strong preferred product offering. You are the preferred brand in the space. However, in recent years, smaller competitors have been increasing their market share by offering no-cost add-ons to lure your loyal customers away.
Your team evaluated these bundled products and determined this offer was not sustainable from a profitability perspective. They were buying market share with this offer and if they continued or grew with it, they would be in danger of going out of business. Furthermore, if you offered a similar bundle, even at a low-cost, your production model which includes where, how and who makes the product would have to be modified considerably.
The decision was made to research modifications to the production model (which could take some time to implement) and in the near term, increase customer loyalty through other means until your firm could introduce a profitable bundled alternative and squash this competitive maneuver.
- Strengthen the understanding of POSITION (or ROLE) within this CONTEXT
Using the competitive product offering scenario above, let’s say the management team determined that a firm-wide goal for this year is to strengthening customer loyalty and increasing brand preference.
Digging into making this a reality may provide great motivation for the sales and marketing functions, but how could this goal be made relevant for the folks that don’t engage with the customer?
Think about how everyone delivers on high customer satisfaction even when the customer in internal. Explain that when the response rate for internal requests or questions is high and thorough, it translates to a culture of high customer satisfaction and enhances the company brand. Everyone has a unique and relevant position to play in achieving this goal.
- Facilitate building an appropriate RESPONSE to the CONTEXT and unique POSITION/ROLE each team plays in this company goals.
Ask each department or team to create appropriate metrics for strengthening their customer’s loyalty. Whichever way it makes the most sense to them and their unique contribution to the firms’ success.
Make sure you provide flexibility in defining, reporting and rewarding progress on each area’s plan to meet or exceed this goal.
Taking these extra steps early in the year to find ways to align new goals to each team will help each team excel and target the right actions to achieve shared success.