After the Christmas holiday, in the northern hemisphere, we look at January and see a joyless month with little to get excited about – except maybe a shorter month of no alcohol and crowded gyms in February. Don’t tell me you don’t. Even if you have delayed it, you’re almost certainly planning something like a dry spell or a step-up in training. From the holidays to vacations. Six months of strategic planning.
The holiday trade knows this. TV schedules are full of programmes offering ideas for holidays and consumers start to think about winter sun, skiing, summer sun – anything that takes us away from the inevitability of January.
Here’s how a typical holiday planning process goes: we talk about when we want to go on vacation. We decide a theme and a time. We look for destinations. We agree where, when, who we go with, how we get there and what we’ll pay. We plan the clothes we’ll take, the route to the airport, the car park we’ll use and the shopping we’ll pick up in duty free. We now know if we need to dig out the snow boots from the garage or the snorkel. Down to the suitcase each of us will take, we know every detail of our plan.
Timing, budget, destination, team. Place, price, product, promotion.
This is strategic planning at the highest level. We do it every day: school selection, house location, car purchase, style of clothes we wear to project our personal image, how many children to have, dog or cat…
Every one of us is good at strategic planning because we are trained in it from the moment we are aware.
So, why is it so hard to plan a strategy at work?
Part of the answer could be that we don’t choose who we work with, and so our vision for the future is automatically a compromise. You can argue all you like that business strategy is all about what’s best for the business, but the fact is, people make a business, and everyone has an agenda.
The more people involved in making a decision, the more diluted the vision becomes. A decision-maker is needed. Often this is the CEO. Often this is the wrong person.
A CEO knows what she/he knows. They know what they see and what you tell them. They see it differently to you. Because you’re the innovator, you see things developing in a future that a CEO may not have begun to consider yet. In January, she/he is still looking at the year end, and will be until April. 30% of your year is already gone.
You’re the innovator. This makes it your job to present a totally compelling picture of your vision: justified and rationalised. If you get it right and they agree with you, everybody wins and you set the strategic direction you worked on. Get it wrong and you carry on doing more of what you did yesterday. Maybe not dangerous, but not a strategy either.
Future thinking. Future proofing. Innovation justified. It’s what we do.
Drop me a line to talk about how room44 can help with your innovation strategy.