Let’s talk business strategy
Sep 18, 2022 | Important PSAs
Some say business is all execution, screw strategy. But I’m not sure that’s 100% right… So let’s talk strategy👇
Sun Tzu’s quote begs the question: How does a company get great at strategy? Obviously, some are better than others. Here’s what I found: It’s not about ideas, Rather, it’s about question-asking… which LEADS to the best ideas. Ready for some examples?
Here’s 15 of them:
1: Know what your solving You’d be shocked how often people will struggle to answer this basic question. ie. Why are we talking? ie. What problem are we trying to solve? ie. What’s the best outcome for this meeting?
2: Look around the corner Some try to find something that works, and never ask about the risks. They don’t want to see around the corner. To save pain later, uncover risk early. ie. How could this go wrong? ie. What’s the biggest risk we face?
3: Know what matters Sets the principles by which a decision will be made. If the team doesn’t know what’s important, strategy becomes chaos. ie. What do we care about the most? ie. Is it the mission / the money / certain metrics / a combination?
4: Success, success, & more success Ultimately, you’re there to have a huge success. Talk about it! It’s important to have a LOT of conversations about success. ie. What do we consider the success case? ie. Ok now what do we consider a breakout success?
5: Assess the energy If the energy in the room is off, figure out why. Maybe it’s something you just have to accept, but there could be golden insights. ie. Do we have a whole-body yes to the path we’re going down? ie. If not, why, and how do we make this a whole-body yes?
6: Map the stakeholders Every decision touches stakeholders; it’s just reality. Do this upfront to avoid issues later. ie. What might others think about this? ie. Who else do we need to get buy-in from and how do we see that playing out?
7: Creative brainstorming Creativity is powerful; use it. ie. Have we thought about alternatives? ie. What are some other ways we could go about this?
8: Be ok being unpopular Most groups, without even knowing it, aren’t ok with unpopular. So it’s time to ask the question: ie. Are we ok making an unpopular decision?
9: Establish the process Every strategic decision should have a clear process.. the last question is the most important ie. What is our process for making a decision? ie. Who has input? ie. How long are we taking? ie. Who is making the final call?
10: Envision the future There’s nothing more powerful than imagining what the future world looks like. Think big like this with big decisions. ie. How will we look in 1 years after making this decision? 5 years?
11: Talent impact Every decision impacts recruiting. Some might be negligible while some might be substantial. ie. Will this help or hinder our ability to recruit talent?
12: Press impact Another important one. Similar to talent, can be neutral to severe. ie. What could the press say about this? ie. What’s the best thing they can say? How about the worst?
13: Avoid thinking too much Sometimes the best answer is the simplest. I’ve gone down 100s of rabbit holes where I eventually came back to the original idea. So frustrating! ie. Are we overthinking this?
14: See how much it matters Reversible vs non-reversible decisions require very different levels of rigor and thoroughness. Don’t spend nearly as much time on reversible. ie. Is this a 1-way door or 2-way door?
15: Measuring success Without clarify, people almost always have different answers in their head. It’s time to clear this up: ie. When do we evaluate if we made the right decision, and is there a future checkpoint where we might consider pivoting?
And that’s it! Call it Socratic, but this is how I get to the best answers in business. The Answers lie in the Questions that are asked. Ask every question, see around every corner of a decision, and the answer should become clear. The goal: the strategy presents itself.
And that’s it! Powerful question-asking will lead to powerful strategy. Incorporate these questions into your process, and watch them work their magic. Ok, now back to building