Strategic Checklist Manifesto

“Organizational beliefs are the foundation of every strategy. Strategy without common beliefs is the slowest route to success. Beliefs without strategy feels good but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”

Strategic thinking includes understanding how the organization adapts to their environments and how they cope with conditions of uncertainty. Strategic theory treats organizations as collections of strategies and structures whether defined or not. When the organization defines its beliefs, strategies and structures then and only then can a road map for improvement can be built.  Building that road map, like building anything, requires a checklist of task to do it right.

Atul Gawande, author of The Checklist Manifesto, How to Get Things Right writes : The modern world has given us stupendous know-how. Yet avoidable failures continue to plague us in health care, government, the law, the financial industry, business—in almost every realm of organized activity. And the reason is simple: the volume and complexity of knowledge today has exceeded our ability as individuals to properly deliver it to people—consistently, correctly, effectively and efficiently. We train longer, specialize more, use ever-advancing technologies, and still we fail. We can do better, using the simplest of methods: the checklist.

The 13 Step Strategic Checklist Manifesto

After 25 years as a strategist I’ve watched organization from around the world fail and succeed on strategic development and execution.  The ones whom succeed follow a consistent pattern of strategic maturity while the ones who fail lack the basic understanding of requirements to develop and execute on effective strategies.   Strategic preparation can be as difficult as strategic execution and there are numerous models to follow. In addition there are numerous self appointed strategic gurus whom will be happy to tell you their opinion of the order of all things strategic.  For most organization all these different views and models makes strategic development confusing and complicated.

In preparing to write this post I found myself rewriting it six times to cover all the variables and strategic models that an organization might need to consider. So instead of trying to creates a “checklist” of the micro details needing to be considered I defaulted to a strategic checklist of thinking and categories of actions. Here is my 13 step strategic checklist manifesto:

  1. Educate all involved of the past and future strategic models of relevancy
  2. Define the organizations purpose
  3. Assess markets, competition, your culture, vision, mission and readiness
  4. Gather and analyze relevant systemic data that defines your current performance
  5. Define your competitive advantage against customer preferences, known and unknown
  6. Define the impact of technology on industry and organizational performance
  7. Create meaning from discoveries gained in steps 1 – 6
  8. Define opportunities that meet the purpose and create the most value, prioritize
  9. Define constraints, most to least, that impact the pursuit of the priority opportunities
  10. Aggressively pursue removal of the constraints
  11. Create clearly defined and measurable plans for executing change initiatives
  12. Hold people accountable for actions and/or excuses
  13. Lead or waste everyone’s time and your shareholders value

The Manifesto is simple: Do It!

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