I was speaking with a colleague yesterday before a volunteer fundraising meeting we were both attending and we were discussing growing my business internationally. He asked, “How have you been able to grow your business internationally with no staff?”
As I was describing to him how I have been successful by asking for and receiving introductions from friends and colleagues, and mentioned some of the places where I am building strong connections, another colleague entered the room. She overheard me mention a couple of cities and said, “I know people in those cities.” She then mentioned a few people she knew and their roles and asked if I would be interested in being introduced to them. I said, “Of course.”
I then looked at my other colleague and said, “You just saw firsthand how I’ve been able to grow my business internationally.”
If you are clear about your strategy (mine is growing internationally), then the tactics you employ need to be directly aligned with that strategy (in my case, asking for direct introductions to prospective clients outside of Canada from people I know well).
How well aligned are your strategy and tactics?
When you think of companies like Nortel, Enron, Blackberry, and Blockbuster, companies that were having tremendous success and then failed, there are only a few reasons why the sudden decline.
- Arrogance and/or stubbornness – The organization and its leaders believed that continuing to operate the same way would lead to continued success. They refused to change the way they operated.
- Inability to take advantage of new opportunities – The organization was either unable to see new opportunities or not flexible enough to take advantage of them.
- Increased distance from customers – The organization created too wide a gap between itself and its customers and wasn’t able to anticipate what customers wanted or needed.
- Misalignment of strategy and tactics – The tactics being performed on the front lines of the organization did not align with the strategy being developed in the executive boardroom.
- Greed – The organization’s leaders focused too much on creating money and power for themselves and not enough on creating value for customers.
Just avoid these five things and you will see continued success in your organization and operational excellence will come naturally.
I was out with a colleague yesterday and he asked me “What are the factors that separate the successful organizations from the rest?” I thought about it for a minute and replied with two key traits:
- They are able to align their tactics with the strategy and direction of the organization
- They foster a culture of innovation (I define innovation as making incremental improvements) and excellence
Aligning strategy and tactics mean that everyone in the organization not only knows the in which direction the organization wants to move, but also their specific role in helping the organization get there. Too many organizations focus on the completion of activities, not the achievement of results. And those activities are often not aligned with the future state the organization wants to achieve.
Fostering a culture of innovation and excellence means that employees come to work looking for ways to improve the way the organization operates and they make choices that add value to customers and business partners. Collaboration is key and so is ensuring that the metrics used to show success align with the culture the organization wants to maintain. Metrics often determine how people behave.
There are many other things that are important, but these are the two key things that make organizations consistently successful. On a scale of 1-5, how would you rate yourself in these two areas?