2020 hit the business community hard. For some, it was a year of growth and reinvention as we changed the way we reached and served our customer base. For others, it was a time of restructuring and re-evaluating where our business is at the moment and where we are headed in the future. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, chances are your business looks very different from what it did 12 months ago.

Which is why I want to encourage you to consider what your company's strategic depth looks like right now, and create a game plan on how to improve it in the coming quarter and year.

What is strategic depth?

Strategic depth is your company's ability to weather a storm. It's your company's ability to keep moving forward if a key team member goes on an extended vacation or has to take a step back to handle a family illness or emergency.

Strategic depth gives your company both the staying power and scalability to compound results by building on a secure base. What's more, strategic depth protects you from the stress, fear, and anxiety of being totally reliant on yourself or a key team member. It gives you the peace of mind that comes with knowing you and your team won't be put in the excruciating situation of having to put work needs in front of your most important family and personal needs.

But strategic depth is about more than just playing defense to protect your organization from the risk of losing a key person; it also is about playing offense. Done right, strategic depth is the offensive platform that gives you the extra capacity to focus your best attention on seizing new opportunities and scaling.

Making it a focus.

Every January my executive team sits down and looks at our current strategic depth, reviews where there are possible vulnerabilities, and creates a road map for how to increase our strategic depth each quarter. We then review the plan together as a team and touch base on our goals each quarter thereafter. It may look something like this:

Operations: current strategic depth of 5. Goal for end of year 9+

  • Victories

    • Multiple key team members are now able to handle accounts payable via credit card. 

    • The process for payroll is now UBS'ed and is handled by key team members other than the CEO.

    • Various processes are now systematized and easily handed off to other team members as needed.  

  • Vulnerabilities

    • Vendors that are paid via ACH still require CEO signature before processing. 

    • New processes for 2020 have yet to be systematized and cross trained. 

Once you have your victories and vulnerabilities laid out, you can then see a very clear cut path to increasing your strategic depth by addressing the vulnerabilities. In this case, we would look at ways to move all vendors to get paid by credit card, thus eliminating the need for the CEO to sign off to process. And we would also develop a timeline on getting the new processes systematized out for strategic depth.

If done properly, strategic depth doesn't have to be a time-consuming process. With a little bit of thought and planning, you can strengthen your company's ability to meet its goals without being reliant on yourself or specific key team members.