Matching Strategy to Present State
Before you jump into strategy, how can you quickly assess the “lay of the land”?
A common mistake is to begin moving forward without first reaching a consensus on where your organization needs to go.
Michael D. Watkins's book, The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter (HBR Press, 2013), is often referred to as “the onboarding bible.” It also happens to be an excellent guide for rapid strategy development.
Within, Watkins presents the STARS model as a quick way to define what sort of business situation you are walking into:
- Accelerated Growth
- Sustaining Success
The strategic responses you develop will vary significantly based on which state you identify your organization as inhabiting.
It is unlikely you will encounter a situation that perfectly aligns with the above as often different parts of an organization will be in different states. Accordingly, you can use this exercise to focus in on smaller units with the understanding that the aligned strategies and tactics will vary.
Though this assessment will give you an indication of where you are and where you need to go, we recommend using it only as a starting point for discussion with your team.
Collaboratively defining where you are will save you an immense amount of time when you move into planning and allows you to begin developing buy-in from the start. Defining the present state using shared language reduces friction in future parts of the process.
Keep in mind:
The assessment does not literally define the state you are in but rather the approach with which you should approach your planning. For example, you could literally be in a Start-Up but the present state for your company, division, or project may be Realignment.
- Decide whether you are responding to the questions asked as a department, division, or entire organization.
- Ensure you maintain this focus throughout the entire assessment to get a reliable outcome.
- Repeat the assessment to define the present state of various organizational units, if required.