Strategy can be a number of things for people. Strategy can be:
- A tick box exercise
- Something you think should be done but never have the time to do
- Something that lasts for about a week and then gets filed in a desk draw
- An essential part of a business life
The approach to strategy is always interesting. Companies often look at what they currently do and shape their strategy around it. It is often done in a workshop or on an away day and then forgotten about.
As a business owner and a consultant supporting a fascinating channel (airport shopping), I have spent many many hours reflecting on strategy. Often when talking to clients, I set a simple test. I ask 2 simple questions to all the employees I come into contact with:
- What is your company strategy?
This often delivers an array of answers. “To be the preferred supplier…” or “To be the market leader…” or “To maximise profitability…”. The fact that there are a variety of responses highlights a key opportunity for the organisation.
I then ask the next question:
- What does your company stand for?
This often provides another array of answers, ones that often come from some reflection and thought. Employees often have to work that out, particularly in larger companies. The responses also highlight an opportunity. I recently heard a statistic that suggest 80% of people are not happy in their roles. This is partly due to the fact that the company values and the personal values are often in conflict.
Why Does This Matter?
I remember a manager from many moons ago say to me “What happens if you get hit by a bus?”. He wasn’t talking about strategy at the time, he was talking about processes and how things work. But. The point he was making applies to company strategy. I recently reflected on that during my latest review of where we as a company are going and what we stood for.
As One Red Kite continues to grow, the very essence of the company, the founding principles must be carried forward as people join. I believe that in a company, whether that be one person or 50,000 people, everyone must be able to answer those 2 questions above.
When we reviewed our own strategy and what we stood for, we came up with the very essence of One Red Kite Retail Consultancy. Now we have one simple sentence that:
- Is the guiding principle behind EVERYTHING we do
- Is INSTANTLY understandable by clients, the team and new recruits alike.
- Is easy to remember!!
In fact, the essence of One Red Kite can even be distilled further into a 3-word sentence. If someone in the team is not sure what they should do? Refer to the 3-word sentence. Want to know what to prioritise? Refer to the 3-word sentence.
The great thing is, having such a concise, easy to remember and easy to understand mantra is having a massive impact on other areas. Take recruitment for example. We have been interviewing and we start of right out of the blocks by telling the candidate what we stand for. We:
- Share the short sentence
- Demonstrate rock solid examples of how we live that essence
- Ask them if that is something they are prepared to stand for too
If they say yes, we move onto the interview. More often than not, we are met with stunned silence, then a flow of reactions including “wow”, “refreshing”, “love it”. When you see their face light up like a light bulb, you know you have got someone in front of you who is completely aligned to what you are trying to achieve.
As we add more services under our umbrella, the 3 word sentence guides us. Would the proposed new service fit in terms of what we stand for? Does it add or subtract from this single core value? If the answer is no, we do not pursue it even if it could be a quick financial win.
The Simple Test
So, back to this simple test. Whether you work as part of a team, lead a team, run a company or you are just starting out, ask everyone these 2 questions:
- What is the company strategy?
- What does the company stand for?
If you get different answers from people within your organisation, you know it is time to review. If everyone tells you the same answer, you have passed the test.
The essential thing to focus on is what your company stands for. Get this right and everything else can flow from there – your strategy, you tactics, everything. You attract the right people into your organisation, everyone is pulling in the same direction and everyone instinctively knows what to do even in the absence of a leader.
As ever, thank you for reading and sharing.