Four Strategic Activities to Do over the Holidays

red-christmas-decorations-christmas-22228015-1920-1200The holidays are right around the corner. For most of us it may be the only time of year where the traffic in and out of our office door lightens up and we can find some quality time to think about some strategic issues we have wanted to get to but never had the time. You probably already have a list. But if you don’t here are 4 you should consider.

  1. Re-evaluate top priorities. As you go into 2017, review your organization’s top priorities, especially where there is a big resource commitment, to be sure these actions are really going to make a difference. When these projects are complete will they put you on a different trajectory? Accelerate your competitive advantage? Significantly increase share? If not, perhaps they fall into the “continuous improvement” or “operational enhancement” category. Those can be delegated to strong up and comers. Reserve enterprise wide priorities for those initiatives that will noticeably and significantly enhance your company’s strategic position in the market.
  2. Rethink communication effectiveness. Time and again what leaders hear is that their employees think communication can be better. Regardless how often we communicate, it likely isn’t enough. Common communication issues are poorly communicated strategies, unclear accountabilities or organizational silos and cultural resistance. They account for the lion’s share of performance loss emanating from ineffective strategic implementation. No matter how much you communicate, ask yourself how it could be better? Should the message be clearer? Individual actions more clearly defined? Strategic activities more clearly linked to performance management? More participation and consistency by your managers? Once you identify the root of the issue, develop a plan to address it. Your bottom line will benefit.
  3. Reflect on competitive threats. Most of us go so hard during the year and have competed against the same competitors so long we don’t take the time to stop and think where the real threats are. When you look at industries that are disrupted, the change usually comes from the “outside”. Uber threatens the traditional taxi business model; the threat isn’t what one taxi company might do to another. Airbnb threatens the hotel world. In both cases, digital communication enables a loose grass roots infrastructure to take down a traditional one. Ask yourself if you were going to reinvent your industry, and weren’t burdened with your current model, what would you do? Once you know, you have two options—defend against it OR be the threat!
  4. Review what really matters to customers. Our company’s get built up one process at a time. Often, years later, we may not even remember why we do things a certain way—we just always have. One of the reasons we start new practices or processes is because a customer may have requested it and we did it to secure the deal. The problem with that is we may still be doing it long after that customer has gone. And as the business has grown, if it is still only serving one customer, it may be using far too many resources to continue. Take a few minutes to ask “What could we stop doing that customers’ would never miss?” and then re-allocate those resources to things that need to be prioritized higher (see #1 above).

What is already on your “over the holidays” list for reflection? What are the top strategic issues you haven’t gotten to this year? Please let me know what is most important to you so I can offer some tips on the topics most important to you.

If you would like to discuss ways to approach these topics or other strategic planning issues please contact Margaret Reynolds at

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