3 tools you can use today to refresh your business strategy
Are you sometimes exhausted by the daily grind of running your business? Has your focus on your end goals become clouded?
Whether your day-to-day issues are on the micro level like personnel shortage to the macro level like a global pandemic, your business will have a continuous stream of obstacles to overcome.
Because of the ever-changing nature of business, your company needs to have a dynamic and responsive strategic process to keep you focused on the end prize, whatever that may be.
The need to develop this refined strategic direction isn’t something that can wait — there’s a reason why company directors and other business experts treat this with utmost urgency.
Here are two truths about strategic direction:
- There is no one-size-fits-all type of business strategy.
- A strategic direction once set can, and sometimes, needs to change.
In order to be the kind of scale-up company that adapts and thrives, a process to assess and change strategic direction needs to be in place. Whether the company is a scale-up looking to grow quickly or an SME wanting to solidify its steady progression, strategy will always be key to achieving the most success.
These three tools are essential to have in your business toolkit as you look to prosper in changing circumstances. You’ll be surprised just how useful they can be if and when used correctly. Tools, after all, don’t make things happen magically for business owners but they can give you a solid plan to follow.
Crisis Management Assessment
Crisis Management Assessment is a tool that is extremely useful when a company is facing a crisis. It’s useful for all issues a business might face on the micro to macro spectrum as what it ensures is business continuity at a time of crisis.
This Assessment tool gets to the root of the issue and makes clear what has changed and what needs to be addressed.
The first step is to define the crisis in one sentence. This is followed by a facilitated brainstorming session, possibly with the board and other key members in management in attendance, where the following questions about a specific present crisis or a potential crisis in the future will be tackled:
- What will change in the world?
- What will change in your industry?
- How will this affect your revenue streams?
- How will this change your value proposition?
- How will this alter your customer segments and relationships?
- How will this alter distribution channels and partners?
- How are your resource needs going to change?
- How is your cost structure going to be affected?
The answers to these questions will put the key decision-makers of the business in a place to assess, create a strategy, and move forward out of the crisis. This way, the developing business strategy is guaranteed to anchor on critical areas in the business that need the most attention.
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.
This tool has been in the consciousness of business owners for some time but, because of that, it’s often underappreciated and unused. Needless to say, SWOT is still paramount in the process of assessing strategy in whatever scenario a company might be in.
For instance, a company may be suffering from a loss of business and consumer confidence, and is at a stand still as to where to go next. The usefulness of SWOT is that it is a tool that enables you to separate emotions from the objective truth out about your business conditions. When you are at the heart of a company, feelings can sometimes get the better of us, resulting in solutions to problems that tend to be implemented out of impulse.
Writing out your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats as a team can focus the company’s mind and identify issues to be targeted through a strategy redirection. A key point about performing a SWOT is to begin with getting every idea down to paper and then cutting them down to the best. Don’t try and get it right the first time. Once your business has established its SWOT, the next step is to follow through by keeping them under review every six months.
MOST stands for Mission, Objective, Strategy and Tactics.
The MOST analysis tool can be used along with the crisis management assessment and SWOT analysis to create an actionable business strategy you can have confidence in. If a company was having an organisational crisis, it would be advisable for them to undergo a MOST workshop in order to develop a strategy that deals with the core of their problems.
How to conduct a MOST Analysis
When discussing the mission, it is important to keep it clear and simple by focusing on turnover and profit. Add a time scale to the mission as well to make it clear and precise.
For objectives, write down all the steps the company needs to take to achieve its mission. In the organisational crisis, for example, you are expected to write down the ideal resolution to the problem your business is experiencing, BUT in line with your overall mission. You don’t have to work out how to solve it yet.
Strategy is where you begin to get ideas down on how you may begin to achieve your goals. They are still big picture ideas but now the company will begin to think about the hows of the objectives. This is followed by the tactics which are the precise actionable decisions you, as a company, make.
The difference between strategy and tactics in MOST can be explained through this metaphor — if the company is an ocean liner, the strategy is to sail from the UK to Spain and the tactics are the precise maneuvers on that journey. (To complete this metaphor in terms of M.O.S.T; your mission would be the decision to get to Spain, and the objective would be to go via the sea.)
Using these tools does not magically give you a business strategy (as no tool can do that for you), rather, they enable you to think about how you can strategically overcome the challenges your business is facing at the moment.
The best part about using these three tools in refreshing your business strategy is that you can start anytime; and if you would like to start right now, all of the tools discussed here (Crisis Management Assessment, SWOT, and MOST) can be downloaded for free as part of the Business Strategy Toolkit .