Without strategy, execution is aimless. Without execution, strategy is useless.”

Morris Chang CEO TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company)

How many years have you been engaged in business? How many times have you heard that radical changes in technology would either put you out of business or transform your business completely? There is no question that business, as we know it, is undergoing dramatic changes and that each of us is compelled to consider what our future will look like. And my purpose in this article is not to debate how serious the current threats are to your financial future but to offer some suggestions about how you should proceed in planning for your future, no matter what that future may look like.

One thing I’m certain about; if you do nothing, wait for business to improve or just impulsively react to all of the external forces and issues that keep you awake at night, your level of frustration will only intensify. Furthermore, the people that surround you, you know, the ones you depend on to produce the results, will also become highly frustrated and their performance will suffer. If you truly want to be part of what can be an exciting future in this diverse economy, it’s time to take a systematic approach to creating your future. And in the process of planning, it is always helpful if you ask yourself the question, “If we are highly successful, what does that success really look like?”

In order to develop an executable plan there are actually three questions you must address; Why? What? How?  You really must be strategic about the decisions you are going to make and that requires engaging in a thorough Discovery Process requiring many members of your staff allocating time and energy to do the appropriate research. This research must be shared with the entire management team and serious discussions and brainstorming must take place. Based on the information you gather you should be able to make educated assumptions about what the future might look like. 

This discovery process not only looks at the external forces that are driving change but also the internal forces or strengths and challenges that exist within your company. And you must carefully consider all of the significant factors, both inhibiting and contributing that you will encounter as you move forward with your initiatives.

There are lots of ideas and business models that are being floated around that speak to the “What” segment of this process, so carefully study what your options are and reach out to others that are perhaps a few steps ahead of you in the journey. The technologies that have created this environment are also the ones that will enable you to do a great deal of your research, while sitting at a computer. And it goes without saying that you must carefully “study the numbers” that drive the ultimate decisions. As you clearly define what you will do, develop an agreed upon set of goals and objectives so that as you move forward, everyone can be held accountable for the tasks they are assigned. Anytime a major initiative is attempted, the entire team must be completely aligned with the end in mind. Don’t assume that they are in alignment; over communication is the appropriate strategy.

Once you have an agreed upon plan, your ability to execute will be dependent upon the talent you surround yourself with. You must carefully evaluate the knowledge/skills and behavioral competences of those you will entrust with the transition of your company. There is a significant difference in managing an existing process and managing a transitioning organization. You may find that you have to reassign people and how you make those decisions will definitely influence your results.

Do you have an effective process for reassigning/promoting staff? Have you been successful in the past when special projects were assigned? If you are considering new technologies/services you will probably have to search for new employees or outsides contractors. How successful have you been in the past at recruiting and selecting the best people? If you are not utilizing an objective assessment tool for selecting, promoting and coaching perhaps that should one of your new strategies. Your team will be only as strong as its’ weakest link and considering what’s at stake, significantly improving your organizations competence involving selecting, coaching and developing talent is clearly one of those critical success factors.

For many of us that have successfully thrived in business and see the dramatic changes that are occurring, we also see wonderful opportunities for growth. Leveraging these conditions will require great leadership. For many of us, we must rediscover the entrepreneurial spirit that enabled our success in the past and we must carefully consider the motivating forces that affect today’s workforce.

"Great leadership does not involve changing the mindset of the group, but the cultivation of an environment that brings out the best and inspires the individuals in that group to do what needs to be done."   Arthur F Carmmazi

One of the ways that you can begin this personal journey is to work with a validated behavioral assessment to pinpoint the range of behavioral competencies that you possess. Ideally, this process will enable you to be more aware of your strengths and challenges and begin a journey towards personal development. This same approach should be implemented with your team of managers and an assessment that can predict team performance should follow. Research has identified that interpersonal and negotiation skills impact CEO performance, especially during a transformation.  Are you ready to measure your interpersonal and negotiation competencies?