The war cry, the battleground and the chaos below

“You also need to look back, not just at the people who are running behind you but especially at those who don’t run and never will… those who run but don’t race… those who started training for a race but didn’t carry through… those who got to the starting line but didn’t in the finish line… those who once raced better than you but no longer run at all.” – Joe Henderson

I have had the pleasure of looking at a lot of retail business strategies (despite my tender years!). One fundamental area that I see consistently missing is an assessment of the relative bench strength of our business executive to undertake the strategy, typically brought to the team from above.

Imagine for a moment being a general aloft the hill, assessing the landscape and the enemy beyond only to realise your army is confused, adrift, possibly exhausted, possibly mutinous and, above all, not at the individual and collective bench strength to win that war.

Now transpose that somewhat feudal image to today’s contemporary boardroom where taking market share, brand penetration, sales growth, succession, acquisition or whatever the strategic goal may be is resting heavily on the team around the table.

Yet does each team member really understand the strategy and do they believe in this strategy?

I always recall a strategy communication project where 18 out of 25 senior executives interpreted the strategy differently.

Now imagine the probability of that strategy being actually delivered consistently?

Back to our team assessing their war cry (strategy):

  • Are they motivated to debate and even argue the points? (This is necessary when a team has some conflict in this stage of strategy discussions.)
  • Do they understand their individual KPIs and buy into this?
  • Can each staff member actually make it happen – are they capable of implementing their part of the strategy?
  • Does each individual actually see the part that every team member plays?
  • What leadership skills have been identified as critical in implementing the strategy?
  • What does our skills gap audit tell us? Where do we need to invest in either building the current teams skills or bringing on additional resources?
  • What is the succession and replacement plan if any member of the team can’t complete their role in the delivery of the strategy?

It is these types of effective people “business fitness” questions which enable us to understand the preparedness and capability of the team to make it happen, as distinct from just talking about it happening.

Happy fit retailing.

Brian Walker is the managing director of Australasia’s leading retail consultancy, Retail Doctor Group.



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