If you are a leader or an entrepreneur, you no doubt see strategy as one of your key responsibilities. The stakes are can be high; your reputation, your staff, your business success.
Yet, for many, the time being spent on new strategies or sharpening existing ones is diminishing. We are crying ‘busy’, louder than ever before. Our individual worlds are often dictating to us where our time will be spent.
Melanie Perkin’s online design platform Canva, made Unicorn status in January this year. Achieving a private company valuation of US$1 Billion ain’t no easy feat. It’s only the second Aussie company to do so, with Atlassian being our first.
(She recently, generously offered to blog on the questions people had about her startup journey)
It’s stories of success like these that get most leaders inspired to reach further and ‘think strategy’ over their brekky muesli.
Let’s see how you are doing,
- How much time do you spend on leading your market (somewhere new)?
Which is often called disruption.
- How much time do you spend improving the experience of your customers (improving products and services)?
Which is often called innovation.
- How much time do you spend on the day to day operations of your company? (improving systems and processes)
Which is often called optimisation.
Many leaders and businesses are understandably spending most of their time focussed on the operations of their companies. This can leave little time for you to think and act on changes that impact your customer and, even more challenging, change the way your market works for the better.
Canva changed the way the market worked for graphic design,
making it easier for untrained individuals to do their own creation.
Think of a company or disruptor that has had major success; they have often changed the way the market worked, they flipped prevailing norms.
If you have already had significant wins as a leader or entrepreneur, you know what it takes to achieve them. Your strategy worked. Well done, we know that ‘took something’! And now you probably feel the heat to keep it up because you can feel everything speeding up externally (in the market and customer spaces) whilst you are being weighed down internally (company space).
So how do you find time to change your perspective from company to market more often? Answer = change your priorities. We make different decisions about how we spend time when our priorities change. The trouble is, that’s often done for us. A health scare changes our priority to shop for healthy food or exercise. A screw up with a customer changes our priority to improve our product or service. Poor business performance from competition changes our priorities on generating new growth in our market.
We can all see how Mark Zuckerberg’s priorities have changed for him recently with Facebooks shabby data privacy performance. Or another, Coles has same day on-line grocery delivery now; thanks Amazon.
The threat of disruption can change our priorities
But this isn’t the way to do it. There is already damage once we are forced to change our priorities. It’s always better to do it before we are made to. But we humans can be slow to adapt our priorities before we need to. Challenging the status quo can be uncomfortable.
Founders and leaders like Melanie Perkins take big chunks out of the status quo,
“I found that the design tools I was teaching were really clunky and difficult to use. I thought it seemed silly that they were all desktop-based and absurd that it took so long to use them.”
One way to help with changing your priorities more proactively is to be clear what the purpose of your leadership, business or startup is. Venture capitalists and investors look for clear appetite for meaning and purpose in founders as key criteria for investment. Employees do the same for their effort and attention. Boards the same for their confidence and support. Leaders with vision provide more energy for work on the positive change objectives in any strategy. Purpose and vision are inherently big and broad and inspire us out of our internal comfort zones to strive higher.
What’s Canva’s purpose?
- Build one of the world’s most valuable companies.
- Figure out how we can have the most positive impact in the world, and of course, do it!
If you do the following as much as you can, you’ll amp up your time investment in strategy.
Shift leadership focus from company operations to leading your market somewhere new
Make challenging the status quo in your market a priority before you need to
Have one that is big and bold enough to provide the energy you need for the two above
One of this decade’s most important hacks is going to be how you carve out, lever in and focus on – STRATEGY. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi Oi Oi
Paul Broadfoot is a disruption strategist who mentors leaders and their organisations on disruptive innovation, business model innovation and intrapreneurship to create new growth. He is the author of ‘Xcelerate: Innovateyour Business Model, Disruptyour Market and Fast-hack into the Future’.