With our current and continuing challenging market, it’s important for retailers to build the right strategy. It’s an essential part of the transformation journey as your transformation should be aligned to deliver that strategy. But there are many commonly made mistakes with strategy, so in this episode, discover my 10 biggest strategy mistakes to avoid.
Listen to this episode to discover:
- What are the mistakes that you can make at all stages of strategy: from initial creation through to delivery.
- How you can avoid these biggest strategy mistakes.
- The granddaddy of strategy mistakes – according to Michael Porter, one of the leading strategic thinkers.
10 biggest strategy mistakes to avoid
Mistake 1. Not having a strategy
The world is changing. Retail is changing. So, it is essential that you change too. Or you seriously risk being left behind and getting out of date.
But, not having a strategy means any evolution will be random and by chance only. Instead, you want to be intentional and intelligent at how your organisation evolves. And part of your responsibility is making sure this happens.
Also, just rolling out the last strategy is the same mistake. Either, you didn’t do it for some reason so you must resolve that challenge. Or, pursuing the same strategy that got you to where you are today, won’t get you to where you want to be tomorrow.
Mistake 2. Creating a strategy for today
Following on from mistake #1. Creating a strategy for today’s market will mean that when you realise the strategy, it’ll be out of date.
Instead, you must use insight and foresight to assess where you will need to be in 2, 3, 5 or even 10 years from now.
Consider your customers. What will they be like and how will they change over that time period? How will consumer technology have evolved?
But also, it’s critically important that you consider your competitors too. They won’t be standing around over that time period. Instead, you must consider how they will evolve with the aim of putting your business out of business! They’re looking to take your customers and your market share and won’t give in easily. Plus, there will be new competitors waiting to make their mark. Consider how your competitors will evolve and react to your plans. And, consider how competitors could disrupt your business.
To do this, war games are one way that could help you focus on what your competitors will do to make the most of their strengths and your weaknesses.
Mistake 3. No plan to create uniqueness
We’re seeing many retail commentators refer to retailers who seem to be chasing the goal of being the “least worst”. I’m sure you aspire to more. But, to aspire to more, you must also want to be unique and not like other retailers.
Strategy guru, Michael Porter, says it perfectly:
“The granddaddy of all mistakes is competing to be the best, going down the same path as everybody else and thinking that somehow you can achieve better results.”
So, if your strategy is to be a “fast follower” and copy your competitors, it won’t spell long term success. If you’re looking to match your competitor on fulfilment speed, or proposition, or store design, or technology, then it’ll never leave you in a winning position. Yes, it’ll mean that you can partially negate their uniqueness. But you’ll also spend time and money investing in keeping up rather than building your competitive advantage.
You may also enjoy listening to Episode 68: How To Win Customers (part 1) and Episode 69: (part 2) with Richard Hammond and Rocky Howard from Uncrowd. In these episodes, you can understand why and how customers make the choice whether to shop with you… or not!
The Michael Porter quote was from an interesting article from Harvard Business School.
Mistake 4. No buy in from your organisation
If your strategy has been conjured up by a small group or even by an external team of strategy consultants, then you risk having a strategy without any buy in.
Instead, you must have the leaders on board and they must be able to clearly understand and explain how their divisions feed into this strategy. And importantly, how their teams can play a part to realise the overall company strategy and vision.
Mistake 5. The strategy is not specific enough
If there are no specifics, in terms of time or money, then your strategy will struggle to be delivered.
For example, you’ll need financials in there, so there is budget available when needed. In addition, you’ll need a timeframe so that resources can be made available at the right time.
Mistake 6. Just listing a high level goal as your strategy
Let’s be clear on something.
Your strategy is not to grow. Neither is it to expand internationally. Nor to hold market share.
These are goals that you’d like to achieve. But your strategy must be able to get you there. Unfortunately, you can’t just wish for something and have it come true! (Dang!)
So, in my recent conversation with Chris Brook-Carter, I discussed the shifting focus on profitability. You may enjoy listening to Episode 63: What You Must Know About Retail Today too.
Mistake 7. Not having a plan to actually deliver it
Strategy without action is just a wish list.
You must make it happen. You must bring your strategy to life. And the first step for this is to be able to clearly understand and explain how to start moving towards your overall goal.
And that plan must be both achievable and realistic.
Also, you’ll want to make sure that your strategy and plan is short and succinct. If you’re trying to build the “everything plan” then you’ll end up being overstretched and ultimately will end up delivering nothing.
Whilst these should be an element of stretch, it still must be a feasible plan…. or you’ll end up losing buy in from the rest of the organisation.
Mistake 8. Wanting to innovate but not be willing to try or fail
“Fail forward fast” is a mentality that many companies today try to promote. They want innovation. But aren’t willing to try anything new and absolutely can’t fail. Or at least, that can be the perception.
The fear of failure therefore still exists. And it can be very dangerous as more companies start talking about digital transformation. Because, without risk, there is little or no reward.
Also, don’t be fooled into thinking some of these common mistakes associated with digital transformation. Instead, realise that:
- Digital transformation is just transformation in a digitally enabled world.
- Digital transformation isn’t just digital or tech stuff.
- A list of tech projects isn’t digital transformation (it’s just a list of tech projects!).
You may enjoy listening to Episode 44: The Problem With Digital Transformation too.
Mistake 9. Set and forget
A strategy is not something that you can simply set and forget. You can’t just file it away and hope it comes true. So you must make sure that you’re continually monitoring progress towards your strategy.
Make sure that governance meetings and board meetings continue to keep it alive. Also, make sure that there are KPIs or metrics that can show progress as well as track the benefits.
Finally, you want to make sure that it’s a continual learning journey too. Take lessons from previous strategy initiatives. Plan to learn from your current strategy too.
Mistake 10. Not having the culture or the skills to follow through and deliver your strategy
Finally, you must be able to turn your strategy into real life. You need to be able to have the culture, skills and capability to be able to take your strategy and your plan and deliver it.
This requires a relentless drive towards your goal.
It also requires effective programme management. And effective project management (which is a different thing by the way).
If you’d like your organisation to learn how to manage retail projects, then check out my Retail Project Manager Success programme.
Or if you’d like support in managing your overall transformation programme, then reach out to me. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t make these biggest strategy mistakes
Instead, take action and develop the right strategy for your retail business.
As always, I’d love to know what you thought of this podcast episode. Drop a comment below or find me on social media and send a message.