In one way or another, I often end up often next to CEOs, business heads or business owners to talk strategy. I don’t often get the attention span I believe it would require, however I rarely leave the conversations without actions. That is part of what I love the most about how I approach strategy. It is important to talk about a vision, but it is more important to talk about what the next steps can be for it. What is a CEO moment? What does it mean to have a CEO hour, morning or day? Yes, a day! And believe me, some people plan for more than a single day, but I am happy to start small.
Roll up your sleeves
As you are rolling your sleeves to plan ahead to 2021 (yes, it is time), I thought I would share today 5 favourite topics that a CEO type of moment would include. The problem is I started writing and realised there was way too much for a reasonable human being to want to read.
As such, I start with the 5 topics today, and I will follow up with a 5 part series taking a deep dive into each of them. That should get you right into planning season and as such help get your mind in the right mindspace. And if I know you well, you may not do more than an hour every other week so I think this may come handy. Don’t worry, I will even come up with a few nice worksheets at the end!
Where is the opportunity?
Sometimes we get so bogged down in execution that we keep our head down and forget to look up to see what is in the horizon. In fact, part of what strategy means is to just stop and take a tally of what else could be out there? A product we did not push for? Clients we do not serve? Competitors stealing our cake?
Last year, I spent an enormous amount of time assessing opportunities in the business. For some people, I think it was painful to have me on their back chasing them to understand what it truly meant. But in fact, as we pass the turmoil of the pandemic, it came in handy to get to June and sit down for a first deep breath. With it, we could look back and re-assess our plans for growth and where they were still valid or not, where we could push or slow down.
Assessing opportunities does not mean you go and pursue them all in one go, but rather that you are ready to hit the power button when it is time. That is what a CEO moment is for.
Where are our weaknesses?
Don’t worry, I won’t turn this (yet) into a SWOT analysis. But indeed, the same way as we want to assess what the upside on the path forward is, we also need to know what the downside is. If you don’t know where you can fail, how can you prevent it?
I know, thinking about what can go wrong sounds pessimistic and exactly what you don’t want to be doing in times like this, or when you have a short moment to take a deep breath. But hey, the good thing is you can turn your weaknesses less weak. If you are in charge, that is indeed your job, to constantly look for your own blind spots.
The reality is, sometimes, the biggest opportunity in a business is not to create something completely new, but rather to not lose its strength and reinforce it to the best of its ability. The danger of disruptive innovation is always looming for established players, but indeed sometimes it is what we have always done that needs our attention. It is key to strike a balance between the pursuit of new opportunities (that may or may not result in anything meaningful) and the constant evaluation of what we have today and what can go wrong with it. As in fact, that is often what pays the bills.
I found a strength I did not know I hadFilipa Munoz de Oliveira
Do you have what it takes?
So you know where you can grow and you know what is holding you back. You are ready to go fill in those gaps and move the ship (or tiny boat) in a different direction. But do you have what it takes to get you there? These are the “boring” questions we sometimes prefer to overlook. But in fact, they are what takes all this from concept to practice and indeed make it happen.
It goes from having the right people, to establishing the right processes, invest in the right technology and even design the best organizational structure. I know, it sounds so not cool to put in an Instagram story. But indeed much needed to ensure you can actually execute on your strategy. If you don’t have stock of what you have, how can you adjust what you need?
What does the future hold?
I am no visionary and I don’t brag having a crystal ball. I am also not particularly creative in terms of potential scenario outcomes. However, that does not stop me as an excuse. Reading is always a good way to surround yourself with potential scenarios. Every industry has its so-called experts attempting to foresee the outlook. They may not be all correct, but together with what you know about your own business, you will then be equipped with a single point of view that allows you to have a theory.
And the theory may well be that nothing changes, which would generally be ok, except if you have lived through 2020 and the covid-19 pandemic. Then you know everything changes.
A lot will have to changeKristina Brovig
What takes away your sleep at night?
This is a tough one. Is it lack of time, lack of money, lack of people, lack of visibility. Or too many people, too much free time… Sometimes, it is all of it in an anxious cocktail of uncertainty. And I know there has probably been a lot of these cocktails (and perhaps others) in the last 9 months. You are, ultimately, going to have to connect with yourself. Isn’t that the whole point of this famous CEO moment?
Final CEO Moment: What gets you excited in the business
I will add a bonus question. I just can’t resist. Remember why you got into this. When you started, you probably had adrenaline pumping in your veins night and day. You might not even have distinguished night and day particularly well. What got you excited about waking up every morning? And how will you make that happen?Photo by Mark Fletcher-Brown on Unsplash