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Go fast. Don't overthink it. Quit dawdling, and let's get this out there. Have you heard those admonitions? If you have a strategy in place, then sure, go and go faster. Just ensure you’re done clarifying business strategy first.

What do I mean?

Well, suppose you’re under pressure to go fast, but your organization only THINKS it has landed on a solid strategy. What if the direction keeps changing? Suppose it changes so much that executives are saying they expect to do one thing, and then within a short time, are saying they expect to do something completely opposite?

Clarifying Strategy Before Going Fast

If that's happening, your next step isn’t going FAST. Your first step is clarifying strategy so that you clearly spell out what you want to achieve. Then, you can avoid blowing time, resources, and goodwill by starting and stopping during implementation as the direction changes yet again.

3 Paths to Clarifying Business Strategy Upfront

What paths to clarifying business strategy should you pursue? Here’s how we’d approach the task, going from easiest to hardest to accomplish.

1. Start with What’s Documented

Ask for and collect documents that spell out the strategic direction. What documents address what the organization is trying to achieve and how it expects to accomplish it. Review these, looking for consistent themes and direction. Note discrepancies within the strategy descriptions and work on clarify these.

2. Seek Out Updated Perspectives

If the strategy documentation doesn't exist, use strategic thinking questions to uncover what the strategy MIGHT be. If multiple executives are involved in shaping the strategy, attempt to get their input separately so you can look for consistent themes. Questions to ask?

  • What are you trying to achieve?
  • How solid is the direction? Are you open to other directions that might work? Are you actively considering other alternatives right now?
  • What must the strategy incorporate?

Within answers to these and other questions, look for consistent themes and discrepancies that you need to resolve in clarifying strategy.

3. Assemble Key Players for a Strategic Conversation

If documents aren't in place and you can't pin down executives to get individual input, THEN work to bring them together at the same time for a strategic conversation. The goal? Using strategy exercises to either confirm agreement on the direction OR to uncover discrepancies and potential issues. Use the previous questions about what they are trying to achieve, openness to challenging their current thinking, and what's most important for the strategy to deliver.

Now, Move Quickly

Take the easiest path to clarifying strategy. If you’re successful at this task, THEN you are in a much better position to move quickly.

Absent clarifying strategy upfront, though, moving fast will create miscues and lead to restarts that will extend the time that seemed so limited before you started. – Mike Brown
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