Watching the Presidential debate last night, I became fascinated by all of the tracking devices that were in play to tell you how different audiences (Republicans, Democrats and Independents) were reacting to the messages they were hearing from each candidate. What a great resource for market research! It reminded me of things we saw a lot of in our research for Tuned In but couldn't quantify as well. Have you ever interviewed or listened to multiple company leaders present their business and get a different viewpoint from each? Or, similarly, hear three different people describe what they heard from them three different ways?
In many of the companies we researched and work with, we observed a fairly substantial chasm that created these differences that we called the Leadership & Strategy Gap. Does this sound familiar? Company leaders believe they have a strategy that will win in the market, one that has been well thought through, timely and sufficiently communicated. They're passionate and excited about it. Yet, their execution teams fail to embrace it because they see holes in their world and greater demand for more tactical solutions to problems that they are working on today. Both sides of the gap are frustrated with each other and the company's overall ability to execute suffers.
This is a lousy time to have any gap at all. The disruptive influences of a tough economy will only make it wider, deeper and more difficult to fix. To narrow it, follow the principles we found that were some of the secrets that enabled Tuned In Leadership teams to thrive in any economic environment:
- Reengage with your market proactively to ensure that your research is current and the top problems buyers faced today are well known and prioritized in your offerings.
- Stay true to your distinctive competence and focus all investments and strategies only in those areas where you have a proven ability to differentiate and create value.
- Understand the new buying environment, determining differences in preferences and uncovering changes to key decision making processes, and adapt to serve it better.
This foundation eliminates the gap completely because it's fact-based and embraces the current strategic and tactical realities of any marketplace. The companies who follow it create strategies that resonate internally and externally. You won't align with everyone obviously but if there were such a thing as a real-time analyzer of your 'candidacy', it's much more likely to trend green.