Creativity, ideas and visioning are all highly enjoyable parts of business. They allow for growing the frontiers of our realities and opening new possibilities and revenue streams. When I am working with a client, there is typically a problem to solve, and we strive to create a solution which is feasible in concept and practice.
Ideas need strategy to make them reality. Here are some ways I drive strategy within the context of consulting engagements to help ideas become real:
- Define the problem. It is difficult to know what success looks like without a clear definition of the problem. The problem needs to be clearly articulated. Dull pain is not adequate. An acute, precise and descriptive problem frames what we are trying to solve.
- Identify the obstacles. Something keeps current reality from changing. Is it money, authority, inefficiency or laziness? There could be many reasons. Obstacles can be overcome if we can aim straight at them.
- Map it all visually. I partner with Mindjet, the leading mindmapping software. I have created thousands of hours of visual maps to help lay out everything to be considered around a problem. The impacts, relationships and perspective always bring clarity, especially in real-time consulting sessions. The results create immense clarity.
- Probe deeply. Asking clarifying questions which reveal further color to the problem is important before offering solutions. It is likely that there have been past attempts to solving problems. I like to gather the lessons learned and ensure that we integrate past failures into our approach.
- Lay out the options. Whether there are systems, process, people and technologies that can solve the problem, it has to build a picture. Connecting those dots starts with presenting the options. Often, there is not a silver bullet. An integration of several pieces needs to come into play, especially for more complex problems.
- Present a strategy. The overall goal is ultimately an answer and a commitment. It is the answer to the problem that has been well-defined. It is a commitment to move forward with energy and resources to changing reality. The strategy has to be clear. I may present this in a variety of ways depending on my audience. The goal is to get agreement to move forward.
Strategy creates clarity which is highly empowering. The magic then happens. We can implement after the strategy has been agreed upon. The problem is well-understood and there is a demand for the solution. I will then move towards project management and implementation. The strategy is the anchor to the entire endeavor.
There are many good ideas out there, and likely in your head. If you find yourself persisting in problems without resolution, perhaps these elements can help you clarify and attack your problems.
What areas of your business could you use a fresh strategy for?