Questions are the Strategic Runway Towards A Great Business (Segment II)

Preface: “Strategy is the highest level of a plan” Fritz Shoemaker

Questions are the Strategic Runway Towards A Great Business

Credit: Donald J. Sauder, CPA | CVA

NOTHING succeeds in business books like the study of success. The current business-book boom was launched in 1982 by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman with “In Search of Excellence”. It has been kept going ever since by a succession of gurus and would-be gurus who promise to distil the essence of excellence into three (or five or seven) simple rules…….

It was only when they shifted their attention from how companies behave to how they think that they began to make sense of their voluminous material.

“The Three Rules ” is a self-conscious contribution to the genre; it even includes a bibliography of “success studies”. Michael Raynor and Mumtaz Ahmed work for a consultancy, Deloitte, that is determined to turn itself into more of a thought-leader and less a corporate plumber. They employ all the tricks of the success genre. They insist that their conclusions are “measurable and actionable”—guides to behaviour rather than analysis for its own sake.

They divide companies into three cutely named categories: “miracle worker”, “long runner” and “average Joe”. They even employ the cutest trick of all: the third rule is, “There are no other rules.”

The authors spent five years studying the behaviour of their 344 “exceptional companies”, only to come up at first with nothing. Every hunch led to a blind alley and every hypothesis to a dead end. It was only when they shifted their attention from how companies behave to how they think that they began to make sense of their voluminous material.

Sometimes the best entrepreneurial lessons are not from business stories; to give an example of the power of thinking strategically, consider John 6: 3-9.

Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples.  The Jewish Passover Festival was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”  He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up,  “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

Do you know the rest of the story? Two questions, 1) Was the lad trained in strategic thinking 2) What was strategic foresight payoff that day? In addition, please carefully note the initial question.

Ask yourself the following business self-assessment questions, for the strategy and planning. If you answer any question “NO”, then follow-up and ask yourself – “WHY NOT”? Document your answers concisely.

Strategy | Planning

  1. Does your business have three or more written values?
  2. Does your business have a written purpose?
  3. Does your business have a written vision or mission statement?
  4. Does your business have a plan for key employee risks?
  5. Does your business have written unique marketplace advantages?
  6. Does your executive team review financials monthly?
  7. Does your executive team have monthly or more frequent meetings?
  8. Does your business have the real estate location to reach its long-term vision?
  9. Does your business have a recognition in the community that aligns with its purpose and values?
  10. Does your business seek advice from trusted advisors?
  11. Are your businesses advisors and consultants trusted and effective?
  12. Does your business have a plan to develop and groom its next-generation leaders?
  13. Do your employees have confidence in your businesses executive team?
  14. Does your executive and management team set and meet expectations quarterly or annually?
  15. Does your businesses executive team invest at least one day per year analyzing historical performance and clarifying the future goal and mission?
  16. Does your business contribute time or cash to the community that sustains its success?
  17. Does your business have a succession plan?
  18. Does your business have a buy | sell agreement?
  19. When something isn’t working as expected in your business, does your management team invest the time to know why it isn’t working?
  20. Does your business have an IT plan?

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