How often should you review your strategy?

This is one of the questions that we get asked the most often when we're helping clients with their business.

The answer is going to be a little different depending on what type of business you have. We are going to use this article to try and answer that question as best we can.  

The best strategy review frequency is the one that you are comfortable with and stick to. It may sound like I am ducking the question. But the truth is that the biggest problem with most strategy reviews is that either:

  • They don’t happen, or
  • They happen, but no-one talks about strategy

It is a no-brainer why you need to constantly review your strategy, or you are going to fall into one of the traps above. I discuss several factors below that you should consider on how often to review your strategy.

Factors That Affect Your Strategy Review Frequency

This can of course mean lots of different things, but the important thing is to make an honest assessment of your current effectiveness of your current leadership team and how are they operating strategically. You’ll need to consider factors such as their:

  • Belief in the strategy – Are you satisfied that your team believes in the strategy and are ready and willing to give it their all?
  • Does your team have spare capacity – Are your team already working flat out in their day-to-day jobs? Or can they take on objective execution workload in addition?
  • Team-member quality – Remember that while it might be your leadership team who are reviewing the Strategy, it is their teams who will be executing many of the Objectives within the Strategy plan. Teams with strong players will tend to adapt more quickly to executing your Objectives.
  • Ability to focus and to execute – One of the hardest things that businesses struggle with when it comes to Strategy execution is what notto do. Your team need to have the confidence to drop things they’re doing or push back on Strategies that aren’t working.
  • Proven success with Strategy execution – The simple truth is that people who haven’t got a track record of successfully implementing Strategy in a team environment will likely struggle. Has your team done this kind of thing before or are they new to this?

Duration of Strategy Plan

The next aspect that you need to consider when thinking about the frequency of your Strategy review, is over what time frame is your current Strategy to be executed?

Most Strategies tend to be around 1 year through to 5 years. Any Strategy over 5 years is unlikely to adapt to a changing environment. It’s perfectly fine to take a 5-year Strategy and break it up into smaller assignments so that you have a 5-year Strategy, but you run it as a series of shorter ‘phases’.

Deciding on a Strategy review frequency is a work in progress for most businesses and most use trial and error to get it right. Use the review meeting to ask hard questions about the nature of your strategy and the capability of your team. After every single strategy review, you need to be asking yourself questions like:

  • Did that feel like a meeting for the sake of a meeting?
  • Did it feel like overkill in terms of detail?
  • Did people start to disengage and lose interest in the parts of the meeting where they weren’t talking?

If the answer to any of the above is Yes, then it’s possible that your strategy reviews are too frequent. Conversely, you also need to ask questions like:

  • Did that feel like a very high-level meeting where we talked about concepts more than specifics?
  • Are we losing track of why we’re doing the things we’re doing?
  • Did it feel like we didn’t make much progress on things vs the previous meeting?

If the answer is Yes to any of the above, then it’s likely that your strategy reviews are not frequent enough.

One of the ways we advise our clients is to use an online Strategy Creation/Review tool. RLActive has developed such a tool just for this purpose called the Strategy Creator. Not only does it allow you to question each individual stage of your strategy plan (whether in the office or remotely), it also shortens your review meeting by focusing on the very points you are reviewing and need tweaking.

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