I would suggest we are now at a time when we need to think about building out our strategies for the future. If strategies is a word that is complicated, and believe me it can be, think of this as your plan. A plan is your how how you are going to get from point A to point B.

I am of an age where I can remember a conversation at an interview that centred on “Where will you be in 10 years time?”.

I have a wry smile as I attempt to come to grips with a 12-month playbook, let alone 5 or ten years. The carved in stone mission statements and vision statements are now a function of a keyboard, screen and printer (or represented on some other clever online collaboration system). Perhaps things have changed, or perhaps we have become slightly more realistic in visualising realistic outcomes in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world. We are certainly needing to be more flexible in our delivery methods, and more accomodating with the external pressures that face our evolving businesses.

We ask ourselves key questions so that we can be relevant for our existing and potential customers. Perhaps we seek economies of scale, increased quality for our customers (inside and outside), and apply techniques to inspire commitment and inspiration.

We need to never stop dreaming – the releasing daydream strategies.

Our wildest dreams and aspirations at a personal and business level can materialise forward facing business objectives that can focus our business outcomes and business goals. Inspiring dreams inspire others when we explore the “What-if?” question. “What if we could do the stuff that dreams are made of?”

With a dream board, or dream list, models such as the ubiquitous SWOT, PESTLE and Five Forces model can help us make sense of the salient and achievable dreams. Choose your external references wisely and with the understanding that these are your dreams. You have the expert knowledge to make this happen. Remember the words attributed to Henry Ford – “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses

The strategies of knowing when to stop – The sixth sense.

We should never stop dreaming, but similarly we need to develop a sixth sense for idea success. Apply the concept of getting your idea to market fast but fail even faster. This may seem strange but the successful business person is one that is unattached to the product or service and sees the creation process as a process.

Taking a step back regularly from what you do helps enable this sixth sense. We can view objectively that that will work and those areas or capabilities that need some work on. These core competencies need to be part of your strategy map. A strategy map is how you are going to achieve your dream and usually is an action plan of the tactics or actions to complete.

The gaps need to be planned into your processes in delivering against your strategic objectives. You may be lucky (or not so lucky) to have a management team around you. By understanding and leveraging the teams competencies, you can  and need to be in built into your

We can craft our strategic priorities into these models

Create a zinging marketing plan

There is little point in having a great concept for a your business if you fail to tell people about what you are doing. The potential strategies must have a marketing plan as it is your marketing plan that enables how to materialise the vision and make stuff happen. Plenty has been written about how to create a marketing plan but the number ONE element of any plan is consistency. You need to be consistent in message, consistent in language and consistent in time.

Be granular about what you are going to say and when you are going to say it.

Be responsive to queries, be inquisitive to critique and explore the opportunities.

Flexibility to be agile.

A VUCA world requires a SUCA solution. Our brains are wired for simplicity so operating in a different (VUCA) world requires

S – Simple. Remember the “Keep it simple, stupid” phrase? Whether you like this or not, if we can explain in simple terms something that carries opportunities to be misunderstood, then you stand a chance

U – Uniform. We need to add stability back into a system.

C – Certain. We need to understand what is coming. In Atul Gawandes’ book – The Checklist, it is suggested that processing a list is an accessible way of processing tasks.

A – Accessible. Make it accessible to all.

As life changes, so perhaps does the way that we do things. Imagine if you had created a strategy 15 months ago and could not be ‘flexible’ in what you are doing. With flexibility comes more need to being SUCA to help drive the change that your organisational culture and values depend on.

Automate and systemise.

From your strategic planning exercises come the processes and procedures that you need to develop forward. Simple tasks should be automated, more elaborate tasks need to be systemised. A few years ago, business was awash with Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), usually as part of some form of quality audit and added to the inches on the bookshelf. The ‘manual’ often lay on the shelf and was only pulled out when something had gone terribly wrong or a section needed updating. The SOP needs to live and breathe in an organisation that wishes to simplify how it lives.

When creating an SOP, perhaps think about a wider collaboration. Share not only with the internal staff, but also explore how an external person holds the process.

A recent experience with a telecoms provider tells me that they had a key performance indicator (think target or goals) to resolve customer complaints, but that they were also marginalised when it comes to identifying the root cause.

Get the processes right and your customers will love you probably resulting in an increase in market share. Get them wrong and your business will lose trust and belief in your business.

In summary

Strategy development is linked to delivery. We use labels such as vision statements, mission statements, business goals and strategic priorities to help us make sense of future direction. We need to keep our responses SUCA (simple, uniform, certain, accessible) to enable understanding.