Something that many SMEs often forget when they go on starting something new, is to plan, to define a strategy.
Of course, the word « strategy » does not sound too SMEish, that’s something for large corporations to do right?
Well, there’s a very simple way to look at strategy, and it was just explained on the HBR Blog Network last December in an article called « Five Questions That Should Shape Any Change Program« . And in my opinion, there’s no reason for SMEs not to be concerned by this!
Let’s have a look at these five questions :
- Where do we want to go?
Well, that sounds pretty easy, however one has to make sure that this goal is written in such a way that it will be possible to determine if it has been reach or not. In other words, it should be measurable!
- How ready are we to get started?
Do you have all the needed resources in your company? In terms of manpower? Of skills? Of financial means? …
- What practical steps do we need to take?
What do we need to do? And what should we maybe stop doing?
- How do we manage the journey?
How do we communicate internally (or externally)? How do we motivate people? How do we evaluate our progress?
- How do we keep moving forward?
What will we do once we’re done that the progress made remains, and that we keep on progressing?
Personally, I like to define the strategic thinking process as asking onself the following questions (which are not too far from those mentioned above)
- Who are we?
I believe that it is difficult for employees to behave in the same direction if they don’t know who they represent exactly …
- Where do we stand?
Knowing where you start is in my opinion a good way to reflect on the next two questions …
- Where do want to go?
I feel in line with the HBR article. You need to know where you’re going and how you will know you have arrived!
- What are we misssing to do it?
Better to think ahead, and maybe decide that that destination isn’t reachable after all, than starting to invest in the project and realize too late that it will cost too much …
- What do we need to do to get there? When you take your car to go somewhere, you always have at least a fair idea as to which direction and/or highway you should take to get there … Why would it be different before starting to invest in a project?
- How will we make these changes permanent Change for the sake of change is a waste of ressources … so let’s leverage the new situation (which does not mean that you shouldn’t change anymore!).
This all sounds very basic, doesn’t? Yet, most companies I look at tend not to do this, and waste ressources, that they have all the difficulties in the world to assemble, in projects that will not reach their full potential or will take too long, etc.
Any idea as to why this happens, anyone?