How to think strategically

by Kate on October 2, 2012

How can we plan when so much is uncertain? The answer is not so much about looking out of the front of the bus to see the road ahead, but getting out of it to look around and check what’s changed. And you can’t afford to leave it to an annual planning day.

According to consulting firm, McKinsey, in this volatile environment we must learn to think strategically in order to stay ahead of opportunities, respond to threats and make timely decisions. However, their recent article, identified it’s not so easy to do this, as many top managers are experts who are better wired for getting things done than seeing over the horizon.

The difficulty is ‘it’s rare for all members of a top team to have well developed strategy muscles’. This is because many reach senior positions from areas where they relied on functional expertise and the ability to get things done

If this is a problem at the ‘big end of town’, could it be just as big a problem in smaller business and franchising. In franchising, the historic focus has been on technical, operational and cultural matters, combined with the reliability of ‘the model’. It’s a technical and operational world, in many cases. Yet to survive, franchises too must be more agile than in the past.

So how can we start to think more strategically, without chewing up hours of time?

  1. Set aside time each quarter to review your strategy and make adjustments. If you don’t already have quarterly meetings, start now!
  2. Create ways to regularly monitor your market and identify what is happening, what competitors are up to and what factors are affecting it.
  3. At your quarterly meetings ask questions like:
    • Is our strategy going as we expected? Are we implementing it effectively?
    • What has changed in the external environment? What are the opportunities? What are the threats?
    • What issues are our customers and suppliers facing? Consider franchisees and prospective franchisees.
    • What could be the impact on our management team, staff, and franchisees of implementation of new initiatives.
    • Do we need to change or adjust to get back on track to meet our objectives?
    • What is the action we need to take? (Now take it!)

What strategic issues will franchise businesses face in the next 12 months?

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