Innovation Junkies Podcast

BONUS: Seven Key Ingredients to Strategic Growth

The Jeffs overview 7 key ingredients to strategic growth & the plans to make them happen. Topics include: the role of clarity, focus & execution in knowing who you are & where you’re going, the value of shared values to keep your organization’s culture in check, & what KPIs are & why they matter so much.

Jeff Standridge: This is Jeff Standridge and this is the Innovation Junkies podcast. If you want to drastically improve your business, learn proven growth strategies, and generate sustained results for your organization, you’ve come to the right place. Over the next half hour, we’re going to be sharing specific strategies, tactics, and tips that you can use to grow your business no matter the size, no matter the industry, and no matter the geography. Weekly, we’ll bring in a top mover and shaker, someone who’s done something unbelievable with his or her business and we’ll dig deep. We’ll uncover specific strategies, tactics, and tools that they’ve used to help you achieve your business goals. Welcome to the Innovation Junkies podcast.

Hey guys, if you’re looking to put your business on the fast track to achieving sustained strategic growth, this episode is sponsored by the team at Innovation Junkie. To learn more about our growth DX, go to innovationjunkie.com/growthDX. Now let’s get on with the show.

Jeff Standridge: Hey guys, Jeff Standridge here. Welcome to another bonus episode of the Innovation Junkies podcast. Hey Jeff.

Jeff Amerine: Hey, how are you, man? Glad to be back.

Jeff Standridge: Yeah, me too. If I was any better, I’d have to be twins.

Jeff Amerine: You almost are.

Jeff Standridge: Too much good for one person to enjoy. That’s right.

Jeff Amerine: Well, what are we going to talk about today? I think we’re going to hit some things about seven key components that makes innovation work, right?

Jeff Standridge: No, actually we’re not. We’re going to talk about the seven key ingredients of strategic growth.

Jeff Amerine: See, it helps when you read the notes a head of time, right?

Jeff Standridge: That’s right. That’s right. Well, they’re getting a double bonus.

Jeff Amerine: I was just testing you there.

Jeff Standridge: They’re getting an extra bonus here today and it’s a comedy bonus.

Jeff Amerine: That’s it. That’s it. Well, listen. In all seriousness though, talk about some of what Tony Jeary had said about strategic acceleration. I think there’s three key pieces to that.

Jeff Standridge: Yeah, we’ve really taken what Tony Jeary said regarding Strategic Acceleration in his book of the same title. And we’ve really adapted that somewhat and use it pretty consistently, is that there are basically three predicates that really need to exist for strategic growth to occur. And that’s number one, clarity, and that’s the ability to get absolutely crystal clear about where you’re going as an organization, who you are as an organization of the desired outcomes that you want your organization to achieve. Once you get crystal clear about who you are and where you’re going, then you build a laser like guidance system. We call it focused. So clarity, focus, laser light guidance system that helps you to avoid distractions and to concentrate on those highest leverage activities that are going to help you get where you want to get.

And then ultimately, clarity, focus, and execution. Execution really is the ability to effectively deploy or redirect resources based upon the desired outcomes you said you want to achieve. And the execution component is kind of a test as well. If you’re really not committed to deploying or redeploying resources, then perhaps you’re really not committed to the strategic growth plan that’s been created.

Jeff Amerine: Yeah, it’s so important. And then it all kind of segues into the idea of the key components from our point of view, of building a strategic growth plan. Why don’t you talk a little bit about some of those?

Jeff Standridge: Yeah. First of all, we believe that strategic growth planning is an exercise in subtraction. It’s not an exercise in addition. So we say no three ring binders allowed, no two inch thick stacks of paper that we put in a binder and throw on the shelf and pull it out 11 months later to see how we’ve done. We actually build a very real, very clear, very catalytic type of strategic growth plan. Now that starts with mission. And you and I talk a lot about, why does an organization exist? What’s their purpose? What do they do and why do they exist? It describes ideally from the perspective of the customer or key stakeholders, why they exist.

Jeff Amerine: And we spent a lot of time on that, trying to sort that out. And it combines what they do every day to ultimately realize, the outcomes that they want. But it also answers the why question as,

Jeff Standridge: That’s right.

Jeff Amerine: Simon Sinek would say, why are you here? For sure.

Jeff Standridge: That’s right.

Jeff Amerine: What’s next?

Jeff Standridge: Once we get them crystal clear on their mission. And by the way, an organization’s mission doesn’t change very often at least at its core. They may go through three, or four, or five strategic growth planning exercises over a period of 10 or 15 years. And that mission may only receive a tweak or two. What really changes from one time period to the others is this concept of vision. And that is a specific point in the future, a destination, usually three to five years out. And most of the organizations we work with are tech, tech enabled or in the healthcare space. And we generally say no more than five years, usually in that three to five-year timeframe. But it’s a specific destination that they aspire to achieve and, or to arrive at with their organization. And we like to make sure that they understand that the keys to articulating a quality vision is that it’s number one, aspirational. They’re not there yet, but it’s a place that they want to achieve. It’s time bound, it’s inspirational, and it has absolute clarity.

Jeff Amerine: And it speaks to the idea of starting with the end in mind, so to speak.

Jeff Standridge: It does.

Jeff Amerine: I mean, you can work your way back if you understand what that north star and what that vision really is to fill in the blanks as to how you’re going to get there. But what comes next? So we find a mission, we’ve got the vision articulated, what do we take the companies through next?

Jeff Standridge: Well, if organizations just unabashedly go after their mission and their vision. And they don’t think about the people that are involved in the process, then they’ll get off track pretty quickly. So we like to talk about the behavioral compass or the behavioral guardrails that keep the organization’s culture in check, the core values or the shared values as they’re sometimes called. These as I said, serve as that behavioral compass for how we’re going to behave and how we’re going to treat each other in the organization as we execute that mission, as we pursue relentlessly even, pursue that aspirational vision. They are the values that we believe so deeply as an organization that they impact not only our individual behavior, but they impact our collective behavior as well. Usually three to five to seven, probably maximum core values.

Jeff Amerine: And again, these are things that have to be really internally defined and internalize because they can’t be marketing veneer.

Jeff Standridge: That’s right.

Jeff Amerine: It can’t be what you believe you ought to put up on the wall. It’s got to be a culture that is mutually held by everyone that’s involved in that process of developing [crosstalk 00:06:57].

Jeff Standridge: That’s right. And I would even say that if your employees cannot recite them upon demand or upon request, then they’re really not core values because,

Jeff Amerine: Yeah.

Jeff Standridge: I do what I believe, and I know what I believe. And I can tell you what I believe. And if I can’t tell you what they are, they’re not impacting my behavior.

Jeff Amerine: Well, and all of this is either a cultural documentation, cultural renewal, or cultural reinvigoration. And it’s super important because it’s attributed to Deming who knows whether he actually said it, that the culture eats strategy for breakfast. You’ve got to align culture and strategy and core values are a key component of that for sure.

Jeff Standridge: That’s right. That’s right.

Jeff Amerine: What now?

Jeff Standridge: Yeah. For the rest of that strategic growth plan, we’ve got our mission, vision, values in place. The rest of it really pivots around that vision of that destination that we’ve identified three to five years out, that we aspire to arrive at. And from there we say, okay, then what must we accomplish over that same timeframe? So if it’s a three year vision, then what are the longterm targets that we must accomplish in that same timeframe for that vision to become a reality? Many organizations will call these strategic objectives, or strategic initiatives, or strategic goals. We like to refer to them as long-term targets, because it creates this visual of an Archer who standing in front of a bullseye with the bow drawn back. And he, or she lets go of that arrow. And that arrow either hits the bullseye, or it doesn’t. It either hits the target or it doesn’t. And so a long-term target is written in a very binary fashion of we must accomplish this, this, this, and this in order for that vision to become a reality over the same timeframe.

Jeff Amerine: And then you make that realizable over the first 12 months of the plan by having really good short-term goals. And go ahead and talk a little bit more about that.

Jeff Standridge: No. Yeah. You’re exactly right. If I’ve got a three year vision and I know what my long-term targets are over that same timeframe. If I don’t get a third of the way there in the first 12 months, I’m behind, I’m off track. And so you’re exactly right. Those short term goals sometimes called tactical objectives in some strategic plans. If those short-term goals are not accomplished, we’re off track. So we establish again, three to five to seven, depending on the size of the organization, short term goals that enable us to make the greatest degree of progress possible in those 12 months.

Jeff Amerine: There’s some semantic changes or differences on this, but some people will talk about objectives and key results. What we typically do is we take those long-term targets, the short term goals, and then KPIs, key performance indicators to philosophically meet the same thing that people would call OKRs, objectives and key results. So talk a little bit about KPIs and why they’re important.

Jeff Standridge: Yeah. Key performance indicators or KPIs. I like to talk about the fact that an income statement or a profit and loss statement, or if you’re in a large nonprofit, a statement of income and expenses, you got to have that. It’s usually produced, five to 10, sometimes 15 days into the following month that it’s reporting on. So if I were to ask for a report today, which is for statement of income and expenses or an income statement, I would probably get one that ended July, but we’re already into the month of August.

And so it’s a rear view mirror view. KPIs really provide that dashboard view. How’s my engine temperature. How’s my oil pressure. How’s my gas gauge. What’s my speedometer telling me. And so those KPIs are really focused on what are the things that fuel your economic engine that you need to be looking at on a daily, weekly, or some perhaps on a monthly basis, but you can look at them and make adjustments in real time. And they track directly to the fulfillment of your goals, your long-term targets, and your vision as well.

Jeff Amerine: When we get through this process with our clients, we’re not done, right. And typically that translates into this idea of an execution plan that’s got resources assigned and work streams and all of that. Why is that so important to anyone that’s going to go through a strategic growth planning exercise?

Jeff Standridge: Well, you and I both have seen many, many instances where, as I said earlier, strategic plan is created and then it’s put on a shelf and we pull it out in 11 months to see how we did. Hope is actually a strategy in that instance, right? We hope that we achieve that plan. Well, we believe hope is not a strategy and actually wrapping around specific work streams, assigning accountabilities to those work streams, those work streams being tied directly to the fulfillment of that vision. And then making sure that all of that lines up. I like to talk about it as a top-down mechanism of planning to enable bottoms up management.

Jeff Amerine: I think you pretty well covered it, Jeff.

Jeff Standridge: That’s right. And interestingly, this document, we have one more component as well. We call it our brand promise or tagline, and it’s probably the most optional of any of those things. But there are some organizations that can encapsulate their strategy, and their culture, and their organization in a single phrase, which can be a marketing slogan or a tagline, a brand promise, which is actually what clients expect from you when they come into contact with you. The prototypical example is Walmart’s, was it low prices live better or save money live better?

Jeff Amerine: Save money and live better. That’s the mantra, the tagline, but the whole statement, which ties back to their value proposition, their mission, their purpose is save money and live better through everyday low pricing delivered by the world’s most efficient supply chain.

Jeff Standridge: Exactly.

Jeff Amerine: So you go from large to small, but it’s very memorable. Every one in the world remembers save money and live better.

Jeff Standridge: And it does truly encapsulate the entirety of their strategy and where they’re trying to go as an organization and the culture that they’re building to get there. There’s actually a document on the Innovation Junkies website called the seven key ingredients to strategic growth. We’d love for all the listeners to download that and ping us if you have any questions.

Jeff Amerine: Good stuff. Thanks, Jeff.

Jeff Standridge: Hey, thank you guys. This has been another bonus episode of the Innovation Junkies podcast. We’ll see you next time.

Jeff Amerine: Hey folks, this is Jeff Amerine. We want to thank you for tuning in. We sincerely appreciate your time. If you’re enjoying the Innovation Junkies podcast, please do us a huge favor. Click the subscribe button right now and please leave us a review. It would mean the world to both of us. And don’t forget to share us on social media.

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