Arguably the most important ingredient is good governance is having a vision and a strategic plan. I often notice that these plans are based primarily on what is within our control. In short, these plans often consider only internal factors, the SW of the traditional SWOT analysis, while ignoring the OT portion or external factors.
And, I find these same companies are excellent at identifying their weakness and occasionally good at identifying their strengths and true competitive advantages.
I have had the privilege to work with several successful companies and I find, despite their success, they enjoy telling me everything they could be doing better. It is only when I hear them talking with customers, or preparing for these customer conversations that I hear their strengths. In the category of “only the paranoid survive” (Andrew Grove), perhaps this focus on what we can do better leads to stellar results. I certainly can’t argue that in these companies, it certainly has.
And.. what I also notice, in the few consistently high performing companies, is they are equally paranoid about their external environment, not just what their competitors are doing but also regulatory changes, environmental changes, technology changes, etc. They consider all factors that present both opportunities and threats to their current strategies.
It is these companies that focus externally that truly innovate and maintain consistent results. And effective governance requires this external focus. Without it, sustainability is a question. With this in mind, as you begin to consider your plans for 2015, I ask you to consider the following questions:
- When was the last time I visited a customer just to understand more about their business? Is it time?
- What changes are happening in my industry – new technology, consolidation, regulation, etc.?
- What is happening in other industries, perhaps ones more/less mature than mine, that I can learn from?
- How are the demographics of my customer base changing?
- How might all of these changes present both opportunities and threats as we plan for the next 3-5 years?