Do You Recognize These 3 Early Warning Signs of Bad Strategy?

October 29, 2015
Hand drawing a game strategy with white chalk on a blackboard.

Hand drawing a game strategy with white chalk on a blackboard.


The downside is that too often, we don’t recognize those signs until a lot of time, money, and energy have been wasted.


That’s terrible because those are finite resources.


In most cases, the hints that a strategy was faltering are there as we move through our work days, but we are often so busy with the demands of our on-demand, over-scheduled lives that we fail to notice them.


But more likely than not, if you stop and take a look around, you will notice that one or more of these 3 common early warning signs is popping its head up and staring right at you and your organization.


1. Every decision has become a reaction:


The best strategies are proactive.


So if you recognize that almost every decision that is being made is a reaction to another decision, your strategic efforts are likely failing.


The best way that you can overcome that is to raise the question(s):


“What is causing us to be on our heels?” or “We seem to be always reacting, but what is really behind that?”


Usually the answer will guide you to the real reasons that a strategic effort is flagging.


Once you have identified that, you can begin the process of building an action plan that will turn you from reactive to proactive.


2. Your teams are tuning out:


We’ve all been in offices where it seems that everyone is biding their time until lunch and biding their time until quitting time and everyone is just checking boxes on a to-do list.


When you see that, it is likely that your strategic practices are failing.


The thing about your strategy is that it should be a powerful draw and pull for people’s efforts. And, while I know that there are always going to be people in an office that are going through the motions, if you see too many people going through the motions…that’s a tremendous red flag.


To overcome the checked out, tuned out team and get your strategy back on course, you are going to have to embrace the concept of engaging with your teams.


Most of the time, the strategy is developed at such a high level that the realities of day to day customer contact are lost on executives.


Too much distance between strategy and reality can lead to this kind of tune out.


So the first step is to engage.


The next step is to work to incorporate good suggestions into your strategy.


Third step, repeat.


3. Poor results in key indicators:


This one may seem obvious, but sometimes the first time you can really point that your strategy is suffering is at the point you are looking at your key indicators.


For some organizations, this might be sales. For others, it might be meetings, or it might be presentations.


Your business with have its own indicators that you must measure for success.


The thing is that you have to act fast when these indicators start pointing in the wrong direction…and if it is something like sales, you have to really act quickly because revenue is the lifeblood of any organization and strategy.


If you do see lagging indicators, you need to draw a line and lead with the question:


“Why?”


You have to define the why of the challenge in very real terms.


“Why are sales down?”


“Why aren’t we getting meetings?”


“Why can’t we achieve this efficiency?”


Once you have defined the real issues, you have to make an action plan for making change.


The best way to accomplish that is by measuring yourself against where you want to be.


You next need to decide what parts of your strategy are working and you need to re-chart your course to reflect where you need to go.


Seeing your strategy start to flag is no fun and can be hidden in the every day activities that we have to deal with.


But if you are paying attention and you start seeing one of these 3 issues present, it is likely worth your time to focus in on whether or not that is the sign of a poor and lagging strategy.


Then, take action!

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