Planning: People - Presence - Process
The currency of the 21st Century is connections and relationships - people. People are your most important, valuable asset – really. Your strategy and all your innovation start and end with your people. Name a company that doesn’t say that; now name a company that really does it. Harder, huh? How you develop, nurture, train, encourage, free, connect your people is, fundamentally, the only real indicator for achieving sustainable profitable purpose. That’s it. The difference between companies that say vs. do is palpable. Therefore, strategy must start with creating and fostering the a culture that provides your people with the support, training, recognition and resources to thrive in uncertainty and ambiguity, opportunities to work on challenging and meaningful problems, freedom to experiment, fail, learn and do it all over again, and the ability to develop relationships and connections outside the business, even outside the industry.
If you have a healthy, vibrant culture, odds are you provide your customers with meaningful, efficacious, valuable solutions to help them grow their business, which helps them grow their customers’ businesses. Assess your current markets, customers, offerings. Are they meeting real needs? What are the geographic, market, customer trends? Are your current customers and markets the right ones for the future? Are there others? Could you even create a new market? What about your channels, the global regulatory landscape, the price and availability of needed commodities, the impact of changing and unstable geo-politics, the increasing global socio-economic inequality? You know the questions. The current global upheaval gives you with a plethora of opportunities to create truly valuable, meaningful and profitable products and services for existing markets and for new ones, desperate for even simple solutions to critical needs. Let’s go find them.
The 20th Century focused on efficient processes, but left out another adjective – effective. If a process is efficient but not effective, then guess what, it’s not efficient! You’re wasting equipment and material time but more so, you’re wasting people time, a non-renewable resource. More effective and efficient processes free up your people's time to work on more meaningful solutions at lower costs. Increasing customer value while decreasing cost is not an oxymoron! In fact, I believe that Lean is the best friend of Innovation. And what about your structure? Are you organized to reduce obstacles? What is the ‘informal’ organizational structure that really lets things get done. Is there a disconnect? If so, it’s an expensive distraction from the purpose and mission of the company.
Don't just plan, Do!
All this planning and innovation stuff is a waste of time if you don’t execute. If you don’t execute, you haven’t innovated, you’ve just invented. In the ‘old days’, you told people what to do and by gosh, they just went and did it! Command-and-control is gone. Today’s world collaborates, not ‘obeys’. Collaboration doesn’t mean lack of accountability and responsibility – but it’s to the project and each other, not a corner office on high.
So, People – Presence – Processes. These need to be aligned with your purpose. Simple, but not easy.