Business Strategy Navigation – Part 3

Right Now: Confront Reality

As Magellan gazed at the mouth of the waterway to bear his name, he had a choice. He could worry himself blind about the future; turn left and take the (safe bet) long route; stab blindly into potentially vicious waters; or take stock of his situation and make an educated guess.

Fortunately, he chose the last.

The first step in business strategy is similar: Confront reality. Kaplan and Norton say it well: “Merely slapping performance measures on existing processes may drive local improvement but is unlikely to lead to breakthrough performance for the entire organization.”[i] Your “existing processes,” mindsets, and goals must be assessed before strategy can begin. Without knowledge of your company’s present situation (or “current reality”), movement from that situation is arduous, if not impossible.

Elements to consider in your confronting reality assessment include:

  • Determine the key performance metrics, knowing if you are ahead of or behind.
  • Determine where business performance is worrisome.
  • Assess where you are strong.
  • Appraise your competitive position.

Next time we’ll continue this discussion with “Setting Objectives.”

[i] Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton, The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action (Boston: Harvard, 1996).


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