Strategy has been a major topic for me over the past few weeks. I am working to finalize my company’s midyear strategy update and also facilitated a career strategy session for a group of military spouses. Working on both projects at once helped me to look at strategy from different perspectives.
I look at strategy as the plan of action that gets me from where I am now to my ultimate goal(s). It is a fluid process that can – and will – change on a regular basis, but a well laid out plan helps to keep me prepared for when those changes happen.
My process has come together through years of practice – with trial and error helping to make refinements. Before getting started, it is important that you understand where you want to go – your goal. Without knowing this, developing a strategy is not the best use of your time.
- To get started in developing a strategy, I like to know as much information as possible. This means doing a lot of research and asking a lot of questions. Below are examples of the types of questions I ask myself.
- Is what I want to do feasible? This is an important question because if the circumstances will not allow you to find success, it is best to know early and move on.
- Understand the why of the goal. What is the background of the project? Why is this the specific goal? What is the purpose?
- What are the specific items I need to research?
- What are the hurdles that I will likely face?
- What are the resources I will need?
- Who are the people I should speak to in order to learn more or receive help?
- What are others doing?
- What are the built-in milestones?
- Once I have completed the initial research, I revisit the question of whether the goal is feasible.
- After moving on from the research phase, I create my checklist of action items. This also includes adding in the built-in milestones. I try to make this as detailed as possible to prevent missing a step. For me, multiple steps also help with motivation as checking items off a list keeps pushing me forward.
- With my checklist in hand, I begin putting due dates in that keep me on target. Without deadlines, it is harder to prioritize all of the projects on my plate. It is also the motivation to do a little extra work each day.
- Another important aspect of the timeline is making sure that I do not get stuck in the “now” mentality. This means avoiding the feeling of having to do everything at once. I try to separate items into three categories:
- Things that have to be done immediately (today, tomorrow, this week)
- What needs to be done once the initial elements are completed
- The last items to be completed
- Throughout the creation and implementation process, I prepare myself to be flexible and adapt as things change. A single change will affect the entire plan, but having the plan is what helps me review, revise and then move forward.
Once I put all of the elements together, I like to review and game out the entire scenario. That helps me to tweak things, research anything new that has come up, and fully understand what needs to be done. Then it is time to get to work!
What are elements of the strategy process that help you put together your plan? Please list them in a comment below.