With sluggish growth and the threat of a double dip, now would be a good time to assess the effectiveness of your strategy to weed out inefficiencies. Robert Simons, writing for the Harvard Business Review, suggests you ask seven questions:
- Primary customers. Have you identified them and are your resources lined up to deliver high quality service and products? If you are trying to serve too many customers, you may be overreaching the capabilities of your business.
- Priority stakeholder. When it comes to make-or-break decisions, whose needs come first – customers, shareholders or staff? If this is unclear, are you in danger of making decision-making more difficult for staff?
- Performance measures. What would kill your business off? Do your performance measures highlight the likelihood of this happening? Are you measuring too many variables and losing sight of what really makes the difference?
- Critical boundaries. Are these clearly understood within your business? Is a lack of clarity stifling creativity and innovation?
- Creative tension. This is about helping employees focus on issues that need to be solved. Are you setting stretch goals for example?
- Employee coordination and cooperation. Is there a sense of common shared purpose? Are you encouraging team work and sharing?
- Business nightmares. What keeps you awake at night? What assumptions are you making about your business and are they relevant?
Asking these questions and then addressing the issues that emerge is essential if you plan to survive for the long term. Too many businesses can be lulled into a false sense of security, as the last four years has shown all too well.