What if you could be a member of that rare group of leaders that continually outthink and outperform the competition? What if you had access to insights from the greatest strategic thinkers in history to help you set clear direction, create competitive advantage, and achieve your goals? Well, now you do.
I’m Rich Horwath, CEO of the Strategic Thinking Institute, and my work…my company…my purpose—was ignited 25 years ago at a strategic planning workshop I was facilitating by a single question I was asked by a manager during a break : How do I become more strategic? At the time, there wasn’t a roadmap to help leaders move from tactical to strategic. So, I created one.
During the past several decades, I’ve written seven books and more than 200 articles to serve leaders in their quest to reach their strategic potential. I’ve had the honor of working with more than 100,000 executives around the world from companies including ESPN, Intel and FedEx, through strategy workshops, strategic coaching, and innovative products to help them develop their strategic thinking and planning skills.
The Strategic Executive Show is my way of sharing these accumulated strategy insights with you and other leaders who are hungry to get better. We’ll discuss tools, tips, and techniques that you can use to develop your strategic thinking and planning skills to set direction, create advantage, and achieve your goals. Sometimes I’ll interview current leaders to helps us discover their insights on being strategic. Other times I’ll talk with historical guests that will pass along their learnings about strategy concepts and tools. Oh, and these historical guests are typically dead. How does that work? Well, you’ll definitely want to tune in to find out.
A study of 250,000 executives found that the most important role of a leader is to set clear strategic direction. Together, we’ll continue to build, shape, and sharpen strategy skills because in today’s ultra-competitive market, it’s be strategic…or be gone.
EPISODE 1: What is Strategy?
This week’s podcast is all about digging into what strategy is at its core, and how to understand and reconnect with its true purpose and meaning.
First, I’ll chat with a special guest–Chinese General, philosopher, and author of, The Art of War, Sun Tzu–and by the way, he’s dead–to talk about the core differences between strategy and tactics, how effective strategy can create a roadmap to your goals, and the importance of tuning up your strategic plan to adapt to your evolving environment. Then, we dive into the most common mistake regarding strategy, and why mistaking operational effectiveness for strategy can prevent you from separating yourself from the pack. Our first episode wouldn’t be complete without a quick visit from Strategy Jack, to help us break down some tools and techniques to craft an impactful roadmap. Let’s strategize!
What You’ll Hear In This Episode:
- How strategy has become convoluted and confused with other terms in business.
- The common traps to avoid when developing your strategy.
- The difference between strategy and tactics.
- Why strategy without insight compromises your competitive advantage.
- The three elements within an impactful strategy: Resource allocation, unique system of activity, and primary components.
- What research says 93% of the top financially performing companies have in common.
- What two questions good planning should aim to answer.
- The G.O.S.T. Framework: Goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics.
EPISODE 2: Strategic
How to think, plan, and act strategically…every day.
It’s a jam-packed episode as we dive into a proven framework to create a strategic team, and help your team set clear and compelling strategic direction. First, I discuss ways to maximize your strategic leadership potential by reviewing the 3A Strategic Thinking framework. Here you’ll learn to apply several new strategic tools to your business to create more insights, make strategic trade-offs and better align your priorities with your time. I’ll then chat with our dead guest, Dr. Igor Ansoff, considered by many to be the father of strategic management. Finally, I share Dr. Seuss’s take on strategy, and dive deeper into how structure follows strategy and why failing fast may not be as great as it seems.
What You’ll Hear In This Episode:
- Why you should stop people from throwing “strategic” in front of other words to make them sound important
- What does “being strategic” really mean?
- How to stop the villain Jargon Goblin from confusing your team on the common business planning terms
- Today’s dead guest, Dr. Igor Ansoff, known as “The Father of Strategic Management” on how to become more strategic
- Research shows that one-third to one-half of new chief executives fail within their first 18 months.
- If you follow the practice of failing fast and often, you may soon be an unemployed CEO!
- The #1 cause of business failure is…bad strategy.
- The 3A Strategic Thinking Framework: acumen, allocation, and action.
- Nearly half of the activities that managers work on are actually tasks that could be delegated to others.
- The importance of creating an Insight Network and harnessing your people’s insights on a regular basis
- Completing a Decision Inventory to clarify decision rights
- A whopping 71% of executives say their meetings are unproductive and inefficient.
- Developing a Time Tracker to better align your priorities and time
- Dr. Seuss’s take on being strategic?
Dr. Igor Ansoff
Harvard Business Review – One-half of Chief Executives Fail Within 18 Months
Harvard Business School Professor Boris Groysberg
The Visible Hand
EPISODE 3: A Strategic Approach to Planning
A Strategic Approach To Planning
A survey of two thousand executives by McKinsey and Company showed that only 19% of companies have a definite and distinct process for developing strategy. That means for the majority of organizations, strategy development is a random and crisis driven event… if it even happens at all. Today, I’m excited to share with you a proven process for developing strategy. First, I welcome one of the greatest strategic minds in history, Carl von Clausewitz, to share his planning approach, and you’ll also learn how to distill your entire strategic plan into 1-2 pages. Then, I welcome the *almost* five-time Grammy award winning hip hop artist, Stra-Da-Gee, to perform his hit song on strategic planning entitled, ‘Strat Plan’. We will also talk about the importance of leading boldly through confident strategic direction, and you’ll be introduced to the Strategy Scaffold tool to bring together your purpose, business model, and plan.
What You’ll Hear In this Episode:
- Strategic thinking is the generation of insights that lead to advantage, while strategic planning is the channeling of those insights into a directional guide to achieve your goals and objectives.
- GOST is an acronym for goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics. You’ll learn how it’s spookily accurate when it comes to setting strategy.
- Good leaders continually reinforce the key elements of their plan, and filter out the extraneous noise that could get in the way of their team’s execution.
- When you try to do a little bit for everyone, you lose strength and focus.
- How does the ability to act boldly show up in history’s champions?
- What are the five primary phases of strategy development?
- You’ll gain access to the Strategy Scaffold tool.
- Stra-Da-Gee, performing his hit rap song on the keys to strategic planning.
EPISODE 4: Innovation: Creating New Value
Innovation – Creating New Value
When is the last time that you and your team truly created new value for your customers? Today, I share three ways that you can take the concept of innovation and apply an innovative thinking mindset to your daily activities. I welcome dead guest, Leonardo da Vinci, to talk about the importance of observation while innovating, and using a technique called domain jumping to turbo charge your business and escape the mental ruts. You will also learn how to apply the Value Mining Matrix to your business to create new value by exploring customers and their needs in unique ways.
What You’ll Hear In this Episode:
- When we hear the term innovation, we tend to think of a cool new product or technology that’s going to change the world. But that isn’t really what most innovation entails. A recent three-year study on innovation found that only 13% of consumer product companies introduced a breakthrough innovation.
- Most innovation tends to come in incremental doses, even for companies known for innovation.
- When was the last time you and your team truly created new value for your customers?
- What is domain jumping, and how did a company called Sharklet jump domains?
- Technique #1: Solve their challenge.
- Technique #2: Jump the domain.
- Technique #3: Use an Innovative Mindset to deviate from the norm.
- The Norm Deviation Matrix provides a methodical way to separate yourself from the pack and innovate to generate better results.
- “To not innovate is to die.” – Tim Cook, CEO, Apple
- “In order to innovate, it’s important to not only cross domains at a higher vantage point but to also look at things from a granular level to observe the nuances.” – Rich
- “Learning is the only thing the mind never gets exhausted from, never fears and never regrets.” – dead guest Leonardo da Vinci
- “When we realize that excellence is described as a deviation from the norm, we know that it’s required to innovate.” – Rich
- “Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation… even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.” dead guest Leonardo da Vinci
- “If we’re doing the same normal things in the same normal ways as everyone else in our space, then mediocrity is to be expected.” – Rich