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Are You Staying on Strategic Track?

If you have invested the time and energy into developing a strategy, one of the most difficult things to do is to make sure you are sticking to it.

We tend to get into a macro, global or holistic way of the thinking when we are investing the time and energy to develop the right strategy. It takes a lot of hard work and it is certainly an iterative and dynamic process. Once we move into the implementation phase we tend to be eager to deploy the strategy, gauge the results and modify it as needed.

What I’ve observed recently is that many authors and thought leaders have a tendency to let their respective businesses slip off of the strategic track.  It’s usually not a total derailment and it isn’t an easy thing to realize when you are in the midst of not staying on track. I think the primary reason for this is that there is a gap in the way we tend to think and operate relative to strategy. We understand that it’s critical, that we need it and that we won’t be able to effectively leverage our content in a profitable way without it.

Strategies only stay on track when we have the right combination of discipline coupled with an easy way to proactively monitor our activities on a daily, weekly and monthly basis against our strategic objectives. Now that may sound like yet another item to throw onto your to-do list, but there’s a simple way to go about this. We do certain things (meetings, projects, conference calls, etc.) for the distinct purpose of moving our strategy forward. We’ve given them the thought they require, allocated the right level of resources and insure they get done on time (and hopefully on budget). Where the gap exists is the other “stuff” that consistently seems to consume our time and energy.

What I suggest you start to do is two things:

1) Before you commit to anything (meaning scheduling a call, a meeting, accept an invitation to speak at any event, participate in a webinar, contribute to an article, launch a social media initiative, etc.) ask if it is positive, neutral or negative relative to your strategy. Will it get you closer to your goals or is it a distraction? Be brutally honest in the way you determine your answer and don’t be afraid to say no to something that isn’t going to get you closer to where you are working hard to get to. You will be amazed not at how many things are negative (they tend to be pretty obvious) but also how many strategically neutral things we agree to do during a typical week or month. Eliminate them!

2) Do a quick strategic audit of your calendar, Take a look at the last month or two and mark each item is positive, neutral or negative. I realize that there are many things we need to do that aren’t relative to the implementation of our strategy, but I also know that there are way too many things we commit to doing that we have control of. Take back the control so that your chances of staying on track will greatly improve. After all, it’s hard enough to successfully implement your strategy while staying on track.

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Peter Winick has deep expertise in helping those with deep expertise. He is the CEO of Thought Leadership Leverage. Visit Peter on Twitter!

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Agreed, our world is all about distraction, sometimes for good things, but not always the best things. I love your idea of a strategic audit of your calendar. Maybe you could give an example of how you audited your own calendar sometime!

  2. I love the idea of putting things into perspective. I’ve got my strategic goals down on paper, just to make sure I won’t edit/change them. I try to read them every week or so. Great article.

  3. Monitoring activities against strategic objectives is a very good idea. Lot of time we get sucked in urgent things, which may not be important. For every task that comes your way you have to weigh its importance relative to strategy. There are times when you have to address urgent issues that may not align to the strategy, but if it happens every day you have to take a step back and look for some fundamental changes in the way you operate.

  4. Great insight however often the pressures of delivering steady consistent growth in earnings leaves little time for implementing all the strategic steps and letting these mature towards a logical close
    Such distractions keep pushing the strategic goals to change

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