Where Do You Fit On Our Strategic Readiness Barometer?
by Tom Wright, on Aug 10, 2018 12:27:32 PM
Let's talk about strategic readiness...
The biggest source of new business for our strategy software Cascade is inbound marketing. That means people signing up for our content (like this blog) then starting a free trial of the software as a result, and hopefully becoming a customer. The really interesting thing about this style of lead-generation is that you never really know who is going to walk through your door as a potential customer. One of the exercises we've been conducting lately is to try to segment these people into groups, so that we can better tailor the way in which we talk to them, and even the features that we build for our platform.
We looked at all kinds of ways of segmenting people - by industry, by location, by role title - you name it. But the method of segmentation that we settled on had nothing to do with any of these factors. We realized that the most important differentiating factor between our leads was where they sit on a scale of 'strategic readiness'.
Let me explain by introducing the newest addition to our in-house marketing toolkit - our strategic readiness barometer:
As you can see, on the far left-hand side, we have our Initiators. These are the people who are just starting out with strategic planning. They have a rough idea of the outcome they want, but no idea of how to get there in a structured way. On the far right, we have our Dynamos - these folk have tons of energy and are working on a million different things already. Furthermore, you'll note that this isn't a progressive gauge. There is no aim to progress from left to right. Rather this is about assessing where you are today, with an objective to pull you to the middle. Certainly, the middle is what we consider the sweet-spot for embarking on a journey of effective strategic execution.
Furthermore, the barometer scale displayed above isn't intended to classify your personality, but rather where your company is currently in it's journey of strategic readiness. You will absolutely find yourself sitting at different points on the scale at different times in your strategic journey!
From a purely selfish perspective, we love working with the folk in the middle. Don't get me wrong, we love working with the lefties and the righties too - but the truth is that our software platform works best-of-all for the middle-guy.
We all start out as Initiators
We've all been there. Some of us are here right now. Maybe you're just starting out on a new business venture. Maybe your boss has just told you to come up with a new 5-year plan for your division. If the following statement describes you, then you're absolutely an Initiators:
I have a vague objective in mind for my business - I know that I want to grow or improve. But I need help coming up with what I should be doing before I even start to think about how I'm going to do it.
A common mistake we see in this segment is that people mistake ambition for strategy. They think that setting a lofty growth objective is the same thing as having a strategy when of course it isn't. Don't get me wrong, this is the place we all need to start. Indeed the vast majority of our strategy content is focused on this very segment. The people in this segment typically need help with:
- Succinctly articulating their vision
- Structuring their vision into a series of focus areas
- Fleshing-out those focus areas into meaningful strategic objectives
One thing you'll want to avoid if you're in this segment yourself, is moving into strategy execution too quickly. It seems obvious, but you need to complete the ground work of figuring out what your strategy actually is before you start the work of executing it.
How we try to help Initiators
The biggest way we try to help this segment is through our free content. Specifically the content we produce which is focused on strategic planning. A great example of this is our popular How To Write A Strategic Plan: The Cascade Model series. Many of our strategic planning features in Cascade are also aimed at this segment.
Activators are ready to rock
When you enter this segment, this is where the fun really starts. You have a strategic plan, and are ready to start putting it into action. If you're a Activator, this is you:
I have a plan - and it's awesome. I love my vision and I've got a clear set of priorities I need to focus on to get to my vision. How do I get started?
The Activators segment can be characterized by their clearly focused and prioritized execution of strategy. Sure, their strategy might need a bit of polish or iteration here and there, but for the most part, their next steps are all about:
- Delegating ownership of parts of their strategy to their team
- Creating powerful leading and lagging KPIs for each of their focus areas
- Defining projects with tasks and milestones to achieve their goals
Whilst this segment is all about the transition from ideation to execution, the major differentiator between Activators and Dynamos is that Activators only do something if it clearly links back to their strategic goals.
How we try to help Activators
Plenty of Cascade's strategy content is geared towards the topic of strategy execution. But the absolute biggest help we can provide to Activators is our software platform. Our goal management and project management features allow Activators to 'do the doing' without losing focus on why they are doing it, and whether that doing is actually taking them closer to their goals.
Dynamos are ready for a strategy refresher
Dynamos are do'ers. We love do'ers, because these are the people who realize that there comes a time to stop talking and start acting. The only trouble is, they've started to lose sight about why they're doing what they're doing.
I'm so busy at the moment that I don't have time to focus on our strategy. We had a strategy a few years ago, but we're just so focused on getting things done that I don't really know where it's up to.
For Dynamos, they need to find a way to extract themselves from the day-to-day and circle back on their strategic plan. Doing so will help them to:
- Remove items from their workload that aren't aligned to their vision
- Become more effective at executing high priority items
- Re-energize themselves and their team around a common purpose
Don't get me wrong - this group of people aren't 'anti-strategy' - far from it. It's just that they've been operating in an environment where strategy is viewed as an addition to business as usual rather than the under-pinning to it.
How we try to help Dynamos
The most important thing we can do for this group is to remind them of the value of strategy and how it helps organizations to succeed in tangible revenue-proven ways. When we encounter this group of people in our marketing process, we often offer to upload their existing workload into Cascade on their behalf, so that they can actually see the connections (or lack thereof) between their work and their strategy. We do this with features such as our strategy explorer which creates visual representations of strategic alignment based on goal data.
So...where do you fit on our strategic readiness barometer?
Based on our segments, how would you categorize yourself? Did we miss a group of people entirely? If you're struggling, ask yourself the following question:
What do I need with help with the most right now:
A) Coming up with a plan of action for my business? - Initiator.
B) Turning my plan into reality? - Activator.
C) Refocusing my activity on what really matters? - Dynamo.
Our conclusion to the exercise we've described above, is that we'll be writing strategy content which is tailored to each of the three segments specifically. I also expect us to make changes to our strategy software to match the needs of these different groups of people. The good news is that regardless of where you fit on the strategic readiness barometer, you've taken the most important first step, which is to acknowledge the value that a well formulated and executed strategic plan can bring to your organization.