Better Roads Staff
S+ra+egy: do you have one?
Planning is vital to compete in this construction market
When FMI asked contractors what they thought about long-range planning in the face of the 2009 recession many of the answers were bleak.
Although most everyone was concerned with survival — often referred to as “hunkering down” — at that point, there were also those who affirmed the benefits of long-range and short-range planning.
Given the outlook today, what will your strategy be five to 10 years from now, or even over the next three years?
Hope is Not a Strategy
These days, we often hear people say they hope business will get better. Who doesn’t? However, I am not an advocate for sitting by and hoping. I have learned that many firms have a strategic plan but no real strategy. We often say, “your firm is perfectly designed to get your current results,” but consider the potential benefits of focusing like a laser on just one strategy — ensuring excellence in your operations. It is a low-risk strategy with high rewards. Here are a few things to think about when beginning the strategic reinvention process:
* Identify where and why the game has changed for you, and review your capabilities:
• Where are you strongest?
• What do you do best?
• What is your number-one competitive advantage?
• Which do your clients value most?
• What strengths are missing from your team?
* Examine what you should be doing to create an organization that is sustainable in good times as well as the inevitable bad times.
• Develop a foundation to respond quickly to changing context or economy.
• Align your organization with your strategic direction.
• Analyze your current human resources to leverage their individual contributions.
Strategic Thinking for Better Strategy
For some senior executives, their own thoughts about strategy are inextricably linked to the firm’s strategy — even if that strategy is not written into a formal plan and shared with others. It is easy to see strategic thinking and strategic planning as the same thing. However, they are two different but complementary processes, and both can be learned and put to effective use. Briefly, here are the differences:
Traditional strategic planning tends to be:
• designed to generate a tangible work product (an action plan),
• usually conducted every few years and forgotten in the interim,
• often systematic and linear, and
• often conducted by the most senior members of an organization.
Strategic thinking is:
• focused on the process as the ultimate deliverable,
• aimed at developing a mind-set and way of seeing the world,
• a process that brings value through individuals’ ability to identify both opportunity and risk,
• emergent and adaptable, and
• necessary at all levels of an organization.
Strategic thinking is not hard to describe, and some of the keys elements include:
Vision. The ability to envision a future is a fundamental skill of strategic thinkers. Without it, leaders are purely opportunistic and reactive.