Know Who You Are
As the pandemic enters its third year, companies are forced to take a step back and evaluate who they are, how they fit in the marketplace, and how to position themselves for success in the coming years. No business can afford to wander aimlessly into the future, and the best way to chart your path is by tackling these difficult questions and being intentional on where you go.
Here at Synario, we are no different. The pandemic has shifted the needs of our customers and changed their expectations. To succeed, we needed to be agile in our response. Like many businesses, we had to be reactive to what we saw in the market at the beginning of the pandemic, and short-term priorities trumped many of our long-term desires. However, after the initial shocks wore off, we knew we needed to think more holistically about our business and how we should position ourselves for future success.
Confronting our reality led us to challenge our existing strategic vision and stirred conversation amongst our executive team. We quickly discovered that we did not have a unified definition of what success in the future meant. The group contemplated prioritizing various performance indicators: “Should we focus on top-line revenue growth?”, “Profitability metrics?”, “Number of customer accounts?”, “Number of users?”, “Number of markets-served?”, “Build new products to help serve new markets?” Depending on who you spoke to, there were varying opinions on what defined success and therefore competing priorities on how to position ourselves for the future.
How do you move an organization forward with so many competing priorities?
The following framework was used to better evaluate and identify who Synario is, who we wanted to be in the marketplace, and what our strategic goals were for the future. While every business will have its unique challenges, we found this process very valuable and broadly applicable to help any business that faces similar challenges:
Business Blind Spots:
Balance is important here. Too many people, the discussion might drag on longer than you wish. Too few, you might miss opportunities or risks that you otherwise would have considered. Our team was made up of 8 individuals and it took us ~6 months to complete. I’m sure it could have been quicker with a smaller group, but we thought it was important to get right and not rush.
1. Form a diverse team that represents all areas of your business to capture different perspectives
- Build a cross-functional team to incorporate diverse perspectives. Synario’s management team consists of leaders from each functional area: Marketing, Sales, Client Service, and DevOps. This ensures we always have a full view of the organization and minimize blind spots.
- Don’t be scared to solicit feedback from additional staff when necessary. At times throughout our discussions, we felt like other members of our team would be able to provide additional points of view and unique insight –so we invited them to the conversation.
2. Challenge, understand, and evaluate your current state.
Questions to ask yourselves:
- Who do you serve? What do you serve? How do you provide value?
- What is working with your current processes? What isn’t working?
- Are your mission, vision, and goals aligned?
- Which components of your business can be changed?
- Which changes are in your control? Which aren’t?
3. Define what success means to your organization
The Synario committee went back to the first principles on this topic and decided to revamp our mission and vision to declare our refreshed purpose as a business. We also added a manifesto to add accountability, intent, and substance to back our now unified proclamation and ensure strategic alignment in the long-run. As you begin to determine what success looks like for your business, keep in mind some of the following:
- Ensure a long-term view. This will help keep the conversation at a higher level and away from short-term resource discussions that can stifle innovation.
- Include financial metrics. While some decisions may not be made solely based on financial impacts, it is important to align metrics that matter and corresponding targets you hope to achieve.
4. Incorporate scenario analysis
As you might guess, we are big believers in the value of scenario analysis. It allows us to organize our thoughts about the future in a structured way to communicate better with each other and quantify results.
As you begin your scenario analysis process, consider the following:
- Start with a base case – this is our business-as-usual case.
- What has worked well for you to date?
- What has not worked well for you to date?
- Set expectations for the future based on these discussions.
- Identify opportunities in the marketplace. This is where we incorporated new ideas, such as new products to consider, new markets to serve, etc.
- Quantify expectations using available data (industry benchmarks, historical performance of your team, etc.) as best you can
- This will be an imperfect process, but don’t let that stop you. A rough estimate of the cost and benefit of a new initiative will help inform you here.
- You will find some projects get a lot of traction until you ask for numbers. This is one of the hardest steps but maybe the most important.
- Compare results and ensure alignment.
- Once you have your base case and a few scenarios, you will now be in a position to evaluate and choose the path that is best for your business.
- Be sure to review your definition of success. Does the path forward you selected align?
- Figure out proper resources needed to execute.
5. Document and set cadence for review.
We understand that COVID changed our world overnight, and it or something similar might happen again. Therefore, to ensure all this work stays relevant and that we remain in alignment, we set a cadence where we will review decisions made and ensure it is still the direction that makes sense. We know pivots are likely, but that is what agile planning is all about. What cadence will work best at your organization?
Your best path forward
The current state of affairs amid ever-changing times is troubling, but that doesn’t mean your business should be unprepared. Taking the time to rethink who you are, analyze your options, and develop top-notch solutions are key in defining your business’ identity.
With Synario, you can see exactly how your financial decisions will affect your business, explore new scenarios, and create contingency plans that you may have never considered before.