As you develop an execution plan for your long-term growth strategy, you may have to disrupt the status quo.
We're spending the first part of the new year aligning our organization around our top priorities and long-term plans for growth. To do this, we must develop an execution plan that supports the strategy. Easier said than done.
A good execution plan may require disrupting existing routines and responsibilities. These disruptions, which our team may initially perceive as negative (who welcomes disruptive change?) may be vital for our strategy to succeed.
Going through this process every year, we've learned a few tips about the best approach. Keep these three factors in mind as you develop your own strategic execution plan:
1. Create a sense of urgency.
The more established an organization, the harder it is to implement change and execute transformation. Therefore, it's important to build momentum early in the process. Shifting course is no simple task in a legacy business. It requires an army-like crew moving together toward a common goal. Without this collective effort, the ship may fail to reach its destination or, even worse, sink under its own weight.
2. Don't build a business on a "burning" platform.
Executing on growth plans or a new product offering may require creating a distinct business unit. This takes a lot of time, testing, and trial. It's better to build it before the industry beats you to it. We've been working with one of our financial services clients to build a direct offering for their small business sector to lessen their reliance on brokers, reduce overhead, and increase customer efficiency and satisfaction. Because key competitors are also preparing to enter the direct space, it's wise for our client to invest now in long-term strategies to stay ahead of its rivals.
3. Don't be afraid to cannibalize your existing business.
As business owners, we become very proud of the products we have created or the services we provide. However, it's important to innovate and constantly stay atop of customers' needs and demands, evolving our products and services accordingly. Apple does this quite well--when the iPhone first launched, there was some concern that it would cannibalize the existing iPod franchise. But Apple was willing to make that trade-off in exchange for a much bigger opportunity.
KARL STARK AND BILL STEWART are managing directors and co-founders of Avondale, a strategic advisory firm focused on growing companies. Avondale, based in Chicago, is a high-growth company itself and is a two-time Inc. 500 honoree. @karlstark