Strategic Triggers

Have you identified your strategic triggers before you start rolling out the strategy?

A key aspect of the strategic planning process is that once you have decided and agreed your strategic plan – and while you still have the design team together – that you identify what the events, conditions or circumstances are that will force a strategic response.  A strategic response is a change to the plan.

What are the things that will

  • you will ignore,
  • that you will review separately (i.e. not as a group)
  • that will warrant an immediate review of your strategy and a regroup of the strategic design team?

If you don’t agree these at the time of the planning process you leave yourself open to over or under responding to things that either do or don’t siginificantly affect your strategy.  Over-responding will potentially waste valuable time, break the momentum in your strategy and cast doubt over the strategy as a whole.  Under-responding could mean that you exposure the business to increased risk or miss a key opportunity.

The process of agreeing this at the planning stage is important to get the buy-in of those involved in the strategy formulation.

Depending on your organisation and industry examples of events that may warrant a null response might be movements in the $AUS.  If there is nothing you would do differently or in direct short-medium response then it is probably something that should be ignored.  If this is the case then the instruction to the team and the organisation is that we don’t not reconvene over movements in the $AUS – we stay the course.

Other examples might be the introduction or removal of a significant competitor, change in legislation, or a price war etc.  These might be such significant changes that you will need to review the strategy and as such this is agreed up front.

So the question that you should ask before you finish the planning is;

What are the events, situations or circumstances that we expect could occur and that warrant a response in our strategic plan and which will we ignore?

In the military they have many practical lessons for business in terms of strategy. The first is that they understand that ‘no strategy ever survives the first encounter with the enemy’.  This accepted view results in multiple options being canvased and discussed prior to engagement so they have a response already agreed based on how the enemy reacts.

Another is that once a strategy has started they rely on clear and concise communication to deal with responses and events as they arise. The communication under theses circumstances is generally limited to three commands;: Ignore, Contain, or Destroy.  When officers call in with a situation they have encountered the response will be one of these.  As they are clearly understood within the military there is no need for further discussion about how to contain or how to destroy – those details are left up to the officer in charge.

This clarity helps to drive a successful outcome by eliminating the ‘as you go’ discussions that slow down implementation / execution. Business could benefit from similar clarity and concise communication

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