How to Cure Strategy ADD

We are in a blog series on organizational clarity. Today, I want to focus on strategy and give you a practical tool (The 5 C’s) that will help you get further strategic clarity and prioritize what you communicate to your team about your current strategic priorities.

Strategy is about how to win, and who doesn’t want to win? As a young leader, I wanted to win, but I sometimes found myself losing ground because of a lack of strategic clarity. So in 2002, I adopted a game-changing personal leadership value: The follower is ALWAYS less clear than the leader suspects.  As a young leader, I discovered that there was a significant gap between what I thought people knew and owned in terms of what to do and what they actually knew and owned. Frankly most of this was my fault. A lack of clarity in communication, a lack of documenting key strategic priorities, and simply trying to do too much were elements I should have been much more attuned to.

Let’s think for a minute together. Do your teams understand how you win and what to do? I’m no longer surprised when I hear phrases inside organizations like, “I don’t know what’s going on around here”, “Things change so fast, I thought we were working on X, but now I’m being told it’s Y. I’m confused.” “We start things, but just when we are getting some traction, we change it and go on to the next thing.” Strategy ADD, it seems, is a thing! When we talk about ADD as a medical syndrome, we think of disordered learning and disruptive behavior — all of which are challenging for the person who struggles with the condition and the people in their circles of influence. From an organizational perspective, a lack of clarity and competing initiatives create disorder and disruption in teams, all of which is a barrier to success.

How clear is your strategy, not to you, but to your people?

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If strategy is really about how you win as a team and organization, there are some long-range fixed elements, as well as some more flexible strategic priorities that must be adjusted regularly. For example, the overall corporate strategy will be more fixed while business unit or team strategies will be more flexible and unique to meet a certain market or need.

Regardless of your seat on the bus, you need strategic clarity to win. How can you cure strategy ADD?  Here is something I learned a couple of years ago from Will Mancini, a clarity evangelist when it comes to strategy. He shared the following 5 C’s that will help you evaluate how you can get to stunning strategic clarity:

Catapult: Are your most important strategic initiatives at the forefront? Make sure the big E on the eye chart is really, really big and that everyone owns it. Catapult these things to the front and stay focused there. What are these for your organization, unit, or team?

Combine: Where do you have diffused efforts that can be combined together? What needs to be merged for greater effectiveness? Sometimes you’ll find opportunities to bring groups together for greater impact.

Cascade: There are some strategic offerings that are not catapulted to the front. They belong more behind the scenes and only get brought out at the right time. One reason for strategy ADD is that some folks are fixed on minutia and more secondary strategic efforts that should actually be cascaded behind your primary elements.

Cut: For some of you to get to strategic clarity, you simply need to stop doing some things. Enough said. Cut it out! You are causing strategy ADD and it’s time to do the hard thing.

Create: Perhaps you have had clarity and success for a long enough season that it is time to start something new. Does your strategy need addition not subtraction right now? If you have plateaued, momentum will be created by doing something new. It may be time to go for it!

Are the things you are doing actually helping you win? Take some time to write down your strategic initiatives and work through the 5 C’s. It will help you see things that you need to shift and even give you insight on what to communicate to your team this week.