July and August can be a time for reflection and for mulling over the future business strategy ready for testing, refinement and implementation.
It is a time for a business owner or CEO to explore their vision for the company’s direction. It is a time to unfetter the imagination.
The chief executive of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has been quoted as saying: “If you’re not doing some things that are crazy, then you’re doing the wrong things.”
He coined the term Moonshots to describe possibly risky concepts like the self-driving car, that have the potential to be highly lucrative in the future.
At this stage exploring future strategy is about being as bold as possible, ruling out nothing.
Refining the vision into a workable future business strategy
The strategy can be an innovative way of doing things rather than a completely new product.
There are some important steps to turning a bold vision into a workable strategy and they involve testing the hypothesis.
The question to ask is whether it is a pragmatic concept that can be made to work and in conjunction with this is it something customers or clients would actually want. Even the simplest ideas may never have been conceived in quite this way before.
At this stage, it may be helpful to involve employees, asking for their ideas both in terms of other potential new strategies or products and in terms of how they can be made a reality. After all, they are closer to the actual process of making things work and hopefully to the likely customer reactions to the idea.
Involving employees from the start may throw up other, equally innovative ideas you may not have thought of. It also gives them a meaningful stake in the business by making them feel valued and recognising their expertise. Google, for example, is famous for allowing employees a day a week to play around with ideas rather than focusing on their usual tasks.
Many business leaders are reluctant to revel new concepts to a wider audience for fear they will be “stolen” by rivals, but there really is no substitute for the next step of getting out and talking to clients and customers to test the water.
If the feedback is positive, or even enthusiastic, the next step is to think like a designer and produce a prototype of the idea or new product then run a trial with selected end users.
With careful testing and planning even the wildest of bold ideas can be turned into a reality that can take a business in a new, but possibly related, direction as part of continued growth.
There is a story attributed to Swan Vesta, that after years of making boxes of matches with strike strips on both sides, they removed a strike strip from one side. This simple idea by one of their staff saved them a fortune.