On Sunday my wife and I visited the farmer on whose land our converted barn and home resides. The lambing season has started and we wanted to see how things were going. Thankfully things were going well and half of his ewes had lambs skipping, feeding and sleeping with them in the barns.
This reminded me of how much of our lives revolve around cycles and never more so than farmers like Paul.
As I talked about in previous posts, like galaxies, planets and our lives, businesses also work in cycles and revolve around an annual cycle of setting goals and trying to achieve them.
But working to this annual cycle isn’t always best for a business and can in fact harm it.
Because, a business has a natural annual cycle based around achieving annual goals, it’s understandable that any strategy created to achieve these goals also conforms to that 12-month period.
The problem with this type of cyclical strategy is that it can be too rigid. It is deemed to have a start and an end that is either in sync with the calendar cycle or a fiscal cycle. And as the end approaches it is time to think of new goals for the following year and a new strategy to go with it.
If an unexpected challenge occurs it is then hard to adapt this cyclical strategy because it is so aligned with the annual goals. The challenge may well be addressed, but it is done so in isolation and with little thought of the impact on the annual strategy and goals. (One of the reasons why so many goals aren’t achieved.)
Now, there is nothing wrong with having annual goals. They are valuable and necessary. But the strategy itself doesn’t have to be annual.
If you have set a key milestone or strategic destination that will take your business to the next big stage in its evolution then, assuming you want the best chance of reaching it, you have set a strategy that details how you intend to reach this destination and how you will overcome potential challenges along the way. But that destination may be 3 years off or 18 months, which will be the longevity of that particular strategy.
If say 14 months into that 3-year journey an unexpected event occurs that has a large enough impact on you and your business, then your 3 year destination may need to move to say 3 ½ years and your strategy amended as such.
Your strategy is no longer part of a fixed cycle like annual goals or the seasons of the year but remains a larger guiding entity that evolves as necessary to overcome unforeseen challenges and keep you business on course.
Hence a good strategy should be episodical, not cyclical.