Over the last two weeks, we have been discussing the challenges of achieving business growth and how we can increase our probability of success by being careful about how we, as leaders, plant the right SEED.
In my first post, I shared my “optimal SEED” framework with the following 4 parts:
- S – Setting Your Goals
- E – Evaluating Your Market Potential
- E – Exploring Strategic Alternatives
- D – Deploying Resources
In last week’s post, we dug deeper into the first two parts of the framework. Today, in this last post of the series, I want to review the last two — Exploring Strategic Alternatives and Deploying Resources.
E – Exploring Strategic Alternatives
Purpose & Deliverables
There are many different paths to be considered on the road to growth and deliberate choices to be made — not only about what you will do but also what you will NOT do.
In this phase, leaders facilitate a data-driven & creative process to 1) Establish strategic priorities and boundaries, 2) Identify alternative approaches, 3) Evaluate alternatives and 4) Choose the Path. The ultimate deliverable here is a clear Growth Strategy.
Typical activities & approaches
This is a challenging phase for many organizations. Why? Because all decision-making has some inherent risk, and no one want to make the wrong choice.
That’s why many organizations take an incremental approach to this phase. Existing businesses, start with their base business model and evaluate incremental “tweaks” or perhaps an add-on (e.g. acquisition). Start-ups often focus on alternative sales channels and forecast adoption over a conservative period of time.
While both of these approaches are common, they can limit growth because of one fact. They:
Fail to effectively balance risk and return
We all know that risk and return go together, but frequently I see high return goals that are offset with a low risk tolerance. In these situations, strategic alternatives become limited, growth options are sub-optimized and the probability of success is reduced.
For example, a new growth venture that is required to achieve the ROI metrics of a mature organization will make poor investment choices and fail. Ultimately, being successful in this step requires bold leadership to manage risk, make informed strategic choices and direct the organization purposefully.
D – Deploying Resources
Purpose & Deliverables
This is the moment of truth. The other three phases have yielded your strategy for growth. But now the question is… will it work? Part 4 is all about answering this question and successfully moving from strategy to execution.
Building on the first 3 parts of the SEED, Part 4 clarifies & deploys not only the financial resources needed, but also the plan for WHAT (Structure), WHO (People), HOW (Processes) and WHY (Culture) execution will be achieved.
Typical activities & approaches
Execution planning takes a similar approach from organization to organization. Strategy presentations by leadership summarize the overall goals, objectives and approach for growth to the organization. This information is then cascaded through management and employee objectives are aligned with those of the organization. At this point, ownership for execution is transferred to management and their employees to drive results. Monthly progress is often reported & reviewed throughout the year.
Unfortunately, 90% of strategy failures are attributed to poor execution. While there are a lot of moving parts contributing to this fact, there is one major pitfall many leaders fall into:
Failure to manage organizational alignment and culture
The saying goes, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, but understanding the impact of this on execution is key. Ultimately, successful execution happens ONLY when the employees of the organization are empowered to excel in their roles and deliver the results desired. On the flip side, organizations with disconnected leadership, poor communication and frustrated and weary employees are unlikely to execute well. Only when leaders choose to understand this fact and invest to secure it, can they be sure to move out of the 90% majority.
As I said in the first post of this series, this SEED framework is nothing flashy or new. Rather, it’s a simple, “back-to-basics” way for leaders to improve their probability of success and maximize results by:
- S – Setting Your Goals to ensure that you and your organization have clear direction and alignment on where you’re going.
- E – Evaluating Your Market Potential to provide context to maximize opportunity and minimize risk from external factors.
- E – Exploring Strategic Alternatives to enable you to test-drive multiple options and models before investing in them.
- D – Deploying Resources to ensure the right investment in resources, execution and performance management.
I hope this series was helpful to you. If so, I’d love to hear your feedback and please feel free to pass it on.
QUESTIONS: Which of the SEED parts is the biggest challenge in your experience? How can this model help you deal with that? Share your experiences & answers with me below.
If you want to know the probability of success for your organization, please take the FREE “SEED Self-Assessment” tool I created for you. This short (less than 5 minute) assessment will both determine the strength of the SEED you’re planting and point you to areas for improvement. Just click on the picture below to start.
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If you would like help in planting the right SEED for growth in your organization, please contact Jill for more information. Also, check out our website to read more content & learn about our services and successes.