Secrets Bad, Strategy Good: One Cultural Change to Make a Top Priority in 2023

Most people can’t recall the strategy of the company they work for. Harvard Business Review was pulling no punches in its recent article explaining the necessity of having your entire team – from the leadership right down to the front line – aware of the company’s strategic priorities. Almost 3/4ths of research study participants admitted not knowing. This is understandable, HBR says, because most companies don’t have a strategy.

But let’s say you do. Let’s say you do have a strategy, and you’re feeling pretty good about how things will turn out if that strategy is implemented consistently. My question for you is how are you communicating this strategy to all of the people who work for your company.

Yes – all of the people. I’m talking about the customer service representatives, the truck drivers, the janitors and custodians, AR, HR, IT, and every other behind-the-scenes department: do they know where your company is going and the role they play in getting you there?

A Strategy No One Knows About is No Strategy at All

In some organizations, strategy is treated as a type of mystical secret. Only the very elect, who have earned their way into being able to access this information, can know what the big picture is. There are a number of reasons for this, including a fear of the strategy becoming known to the competition, or the fact the strategy is too complex to explain. 

Let’s address the latter point first. The strategy that is too complex to explain is too complex to execute. I can respect not informing your team of a strategic direction that isn’t well-thought-through – why confuse the situation? But in that case, you know that clarifying the strategy into something that can be communicated effectively is a priority item on your 2023 to-do list. 

For an example of a clear, quickly articulated strategy, look at Scheels. They’ve boiled their approach down into a single sentence: Our goal is to be the best retailer in the eyes of our customers, associates, and business partners. Every member of the team is aware of this strategy, and when they’re in a position to make a decision, it’s an easy litmus test: does this option make us the best retailer? If the answer is no, it’s not the right option.

There’s No Need for Secrecy

The Scheels strategy isn’t hidden behind any walls. You don’t need to exert a ton of effort to find it. Scheels puts it, and a lot of the reasoning behind it, right on their website for the entire world to see. Check it out for yourself:

But what about the fears of competitors benefitting by knowing your strategy?  These are entirely misplaced. Knowing a strategy is not the same as committing to implementing it effectively, and frankly, any company that’s focused enough to mimic someone else’s operational choices to that degree will also possess enough resources to eventually realize each brand charts its own unique route to success.

Tell Me What You Think

I’d love to hear what you find most rewarding – or challenging – about sharing the company’s strategy with your team, associates, and customers. Have you made communicating your strategy internally a top priority? If not, are you planning to do so going forward?

Less secrets, more strategy – Goal #1 for 2023!

Previous Post Next Post