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Strategic Agility The new leadership imperative By Holly G. Green In today’s hyper-fast markets, strategic agility – the ability to move fast with focus and flexibility – is an essential leadership skill that enables your organization to stay on track when circumstances change beyond your control. It starts with actively managing your strategic plan. Most companies invest a lot of time and energy in writing their strategic plans. The problem is that those plans never unfold exactly as written. The world simply doesn’t work that way. Too many internal and external factors are involved for any plan to unfold without some degree of change along the way. But, instead of making adjustments in response to changing circumstances, many leaders insist on sticking to the plan as written. They either see the changes as temporary blips to be ridden out. Or, they get too locked into the specifics of the plan and fail to respond appropriately to changes in markets, customers and global conditions. Then, they wonder why they continually fall short of achieving their strategic goals. To adapt your plan to shifting market realities, start by automatically assuming that your market is constantly changing (it is!), and monitor it on a regular basis. Then, develop a formal process for managing your strategy. Select a time, preferably once a month but no less than once a quarter, to review your strategy. During the meetings, identify any changes in your environment, review how your strategy is unfolding compared to how you thought it would, and make any necessary adjustments to the plan. When monitoring the environment, pay close attention to uncertainties. For example, what assumptions are you making about your markets and customers? Are they still valid? What are your customers and suppliers uncertain about? What are their customers and suppliers uncertain about? How do you know? When reviewing your strategy implementation, ask questions like: What has changed, internally or externally, that might alter or undermine our strategy? Is our strategy working as expected? Are we executing correctly? If not, what do we need to refine or change in order to get back on track? Once you determine the necessary course corrections, take action immediately! It’s hard making decisions without having any certainty about what the future holds. But today’s world moves so fast that hesitation can be fatal. Once you fall behind, it can be very difficult to catch up. As you go through this process, teach people at all levels to think strategically by keeping one eye on the future as they perform what needs to get done today. Provide the training, coaching and mentoring to become more responsive to changing customer needs. Develop their creative problem solving skills. And help them understand how their decisions and actions they make today will impact the business in the future. Today’s market leaders are fast, agile and able to change course with a minimum of disruption. Make the development of strategic agility a priority for your organization, and let your competitors struggle to catch up with you! LE As CEO and Managing Director of THE HUMAN FACTOR, Inc , Holly G. Green helps business leaders and their companies achieve excellence by creating clarity on what winning looks like and determining how to get there.  She also provides strategic advice and guidance to numerous 501(c)3 organizations. Visit www.MoreThanaMinute.com Email Holly@thehumanfactor.biz 21 leadership excellence essentials presented by HR.com | 04.2014


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