It’s time to start sharpening 2018 goals. Where do you start your thinking? Your goals last year? Your boss’s goals? The company’s goals? Blue sky?
Wherever you start, take the time to think through the strategic context for the results you could or should produce. What do I mean by strategic context? Explore the underlying circumstances, reality and/or possibility for achieving what you want. Step back review or develop an understanding using these six questions to start—
  1. What is the historical underpinnings of your industry or sector and your organization within that industry?
  2. What are the changes underway in your industry? Your company? Your function or role?
  3. What are the customer imperatives for your product or service category? Now and in five years?
  4. What are the competitive challenges? New entrants? Strongholds?
  5. What are the complexities in key relationships? Regulatory? Partners? Collaborators? Financial?
  6. How do geographical markets impact your possibilities?
Get a big paper, flip chart, white board and draw a diagram of how the pieces fit together.
What if you are not in an executive role, does this concept apply to you? What if your bosses above you are answering those questions, should you wait for their thinking? I say “yes” to the first and ‘no” to the second.  I’m not saying you should take over strategic planning. Rather, I am saying that your effectiveness and influence will be greatly enhanced with a clear strategic context for what you are achieving. Sometimes your bosses are not doing the strategic thinking—and you could start or enhance the conversation with good information and questions.
Even if you are near or at the bottom of the org chart, you will benefit by—
  • Knowing how your goals fuel strategic impact and seeing opportunities you might not have seen.
  • Checking the relevance of your initial thinking—right direction, big enough?
  • Pressure testing the clarity and strategic nature of your department’s goals—bringing your ideas forward.
  • Impressing your bosses with the strategic focus of your questions.
All that is required is your curiosity and some effort in gathering information and perspective. Oh yeah, and your thinking. If it’s not your job to do this thinking, make it a personal project. What better topic for conversations with your key stakeholders?