How often should you update your GPS?

In part 1 of our Strategy Trilogy, we talked about dialing in your GPS; understanding where you are, where you need to be and developing a strategy on how to get there. Part 2 discussed avoiding unnecessary detours by identifying common causes that lead companies off course. We also talked about unavoidable detours that have to be taken in order to stay aligned with the business.

In our third, and final, entry in the Strategy Trilogy, we will talk about when and when not to update your GPS. Update your GPS when the destination changes or when new roads are added. Do not update your GPS if the new route doesn’t ultimately lead to your destination.

Business priorities will change. When priorities change, your existing strategy may become obsolete. For example, if the business priority is to grow sales by 15% over the next 3 years and one year into your strategy the business acquires another company, your strategy must change from one of sales growth to one of integration. In this example, your destination has changed so dramatically that you will need to cancel your current strategy, enter your new destination and determine the best route.

Another time to evaluate your strategy or update your GPS is when new roads are added. These roads can range from groundbreaking technology to government compliance mandates. Your strategy needs to be built with enough flexibility to react to these detours as they come up and still keep your final destination in tact.

On the contrary,  you may be asked to update your GPS but shouldn’t. Work that impairs your ability to reach your final destination on time and at budget, should not be added to your strategy. This does not mean that scope cannot change, it can, and will. Remember our upcoming trip to Canada for the World Cup of Hockey? It isn’t enough just to drive north to Canada, our strategy is to get to Toronto in time for the opening ceremonies.  Our strategy allows us to stop at a friend’s house on the way and still get there on time. However, if halfway through our trip we decided to stop for a round of golf, then we must remove the stop at a friends to keep our trip on time. It’s important to be as flexible as you can when the business wants to make scope changes. Flexibility comes at a price. You may need to remove projects from your strategy in order to meet new business needs.

Winston Churchill once said “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results”.  As you are implementing a strategy over several years, it is important to measure progress and self correct as needed. Build your strategy with checkpoints in place to measure progress and determine if business goals are being met. Make sure to visit our website to learn how J&M Strategic Consulting can help you build a strategic plan and stay on course.

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