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  The NIST Manufacturing Extension Program for Kentucky

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Have a Strategy ... What's Next?!?

OK, you have your business strategy and you love your strategy. The more you think about it the more excited you get. It’s perfect! You worked with your team and know that everyone is “on-board”. They are as happy as you are with the results. You hand-picked this team and they are absolutely BRILLIANT! You are already envisioning your growth. The only thing left is implementation. As you know, a well thought out Business Strategy poorly implemented is probably the most frustrating element of business ownership. Nothing is more frustrating than having all the right “pieces” but not fitting them together in a cohesive vision.  

“Vision GraphicFast forward about 6 months. You are having a bad day, a really bad day. Your profits have not picked up like you intended, in fact, they are lower in spite of the new customer that was landed a few months before. You are still having that “workforce issue”. Why is it so darn hard to get good help! The business appears to be more disorganized than ever. You were a bit disappointed in your team as they really have not implemented the strategies like you envisioned that they would. You are now thinking that maybe they are not as “brilliant” as you thought. They seemed to mean well and in fact, when you have conversations with them, they appear to understand the Strategies. So why are they not implementing the Strategies correctly?

Three words. Lack-Of-Direction

“Decisions Graphic

It is not enough to have well thought out Strategies nor expected Outcomes. You have to have a COHESIVE and DEVELOPED Implementation Plan that has a prioritized list of projects (solutions) with timelines, project managers, etc. Most importantly, activities need to be tracked and individuals need to be held accountable. Your team did not drop a few IQ points over the past 6 months, they did not have enough direction! When teams have a lack of direction, they tend to give themselves direction which may not totally agree with the systematic approach you were intending on taking. Either your team did not do a good job prioritizing next steps or your team did not do a good job identifying projects (solutions) to resolve your problem (Strategy) in the first place. In other words, their “direction” was being created as they were going along and caused disorganization.

Someone has to take the lead ensuring all activities and projects “dove-tail” in a systematic approach, ensuring activities are done in a proper sequence that your available resources can implement. That “someone” needs to be YOU or other high level individual. That individual has the full picture in mind on what needs to be done. Only that person knows all the activities and what are the expected outcomes. Only one common voice can give direction to those who are lost, giving hope to those who are losing their energy, and accolades to a job well done. 

Sitting down with your Team BEFORE activities are started helps identify next steps for implementation. As important as it is to define what your next activities are to be, it is more important to identify what activities you are NOT going to be doing. If you and your team has already identified activities and projects that are “off the table” why not put that out there so everyone realizes that? No reason to waste time in areas that are dead ends or of no benefit to the Company. Companies with a lack of direction traditionally have employees working on projects and activities that do not lend themselves well to the overall strategies. This of course creates disorganization, unstructured activities and most importantly, wasted resources. The other forgotten byproduct is poor morale, dissolved margins, and ultimately, team indecision and fragmented activities.

The answer; Ideation (idea generation)

“Brainsteering Graphic

An Ideation Session is a session that creates numerous project ideas and next steps. It typically involves brainstorming or what I call “Brainsteering”, Mind Maps and ultimately gives direction by “daisy chaining” next steps and projects in order of a predetermined expected outcome. Proper Ideation sessions should involve multiple individuals from across the business in an open forum allowing for open conversations and idea generation. As the long standing saying goes, “there are no dumb questions {ideas} only dumb answers {nay-sayers}”. In other words, the Ideation session has to be conducted in a manner that facilitates out-of-the-box thinking without fear of smirks and punchlines. The absolutely worst comments in a Session are, “we have done that in the past”, “that can/will not work”, “that does not even make sense”, “we cannot do that”, or any other negative connotation.

Once projects, ideas, and next steps are identified, direction can be established. Direction answers the questions … What are we doing next? Who is responsible for getting it done? What does a “win” look like? When does it need to be completed by? The most important questions are geared toward activities that surround each step. What activities need to be in place allowing for that step’s success? What can we do to ensure that transition from step to step is seamless, cost effective, and ultimately, SMART?

AKA can facilitate Business Strategy sessions as well as work with your team bringing direction and purpose to activities. Let Advantage Kentucky Alliance’s Growth Management Experts help you grow your business this year.  As the MEP for the state of Kentucky, we do receive funding from the government which allows us to buy down the costs of any of the services that we provide.  To find out more about how AKA can help you with business growth, continuous improvement, leadership development, or Quality Management Systems and ISO, call our Marketing Specialist, Kurt Felten, directly at (606) 620-0076, and begin the conversation today.

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