Emily is the CEO of a medium sized manufacturing company. She knows where she wants her company to be and what she needs to do to get it there—and she is driving it in that direction. But it wasn’t always that way.
Like many CEOs, she took over a relatively successful firm and focused on continuing the things that made it successful while learning her new job. She immersed herself in all aspects of the business and quickly found herself getting bogged down in the day-to-day operational issues. But, the company was making money, customers and employees weren’t complaining, and there was no need to do anything differently, until the recession hit. She lost her largest customer and suddenly her company was bleeding. Doing more of the same would no longer work. Changes were required. A new plan was quickly needed.
Over a difficult 6 month period, she and her key managers developed and launched a new strategic plan and direction for the business. They realized that as the economy radically changed, so too must they. Through a series of careful steps, they formulated their plan, initially defining their core purpose (mission), company values and vision for the future. Goals and objectives were established to get them there.
Emily knew that they would have to differentiate themselves from their competition, so she went out and talked to her customers. Armed with their input along with market data generated by her staff, she reformulated a new direction. Knowing that before she could implement her plan, she needed to communicate with her workforce and vendors, bringing them on board, and ensuring that everyone was fully engaged and ready to move.
The “journey” as she calls it was not without missteps, setbacks, and pain. It has now been nearly 3 years since Emily begin the road back from near ruin. Her company has gone through an organizational transformation.
They are profitable again. Yet she knows that if she listened to those who advised her to “hunker down and weather the storm” that she would have gone out of business.
Organizations need to be guided by a clear statement of strategy. Only with the full commitment of everyone, lead by the CEO, can this strategy be set in motion and used to guide the major decisions that confront an organization. Strategy points to your “true north.”