Something to think about: what if working harder doesn’t always push your business ahead of the competition?
While so many companies in construction and transportation boast legacy stories sustained by family and hard work, the marketplace, especially in the modern era of digital information, is a different beast from what it was even a decade ago, and especially further back.
Hard work certainly still “gets the job done,” but in our business, we’ve got to get the job first, and then hold on to the clients while building a reputation. It’s no longer just about who can work longer, harder, more productive hours. In many cases, success these days comes from out-thinking your competition as much, or more, than outworking them.
Recognising this concept will allow you to also recognise many of the steps required to set yourself apart from your industry peers, allowing your company to achieve its full potential.
One way to gain an edge – to use a sports analogy – is to pick your head up. A quick way to start identifying how to get out in front of your competitors is to look up from the daily routine and take stock of where the industry is headed. You’d be surprised how effectively looking at both the foreground and the horizon will impact your ability to maximise opportunities before anyone else does. It helps you anticipate trends that will affect your products and-or your process, and gets you in the mindset of consistently thinking beyond current successes or failures, which can become traps in their own right.
Now, possessing the ability to get out in front of your competition and anticipate the marketplace means very little if you haven’t planned for the scenarios that arrive and, further, if you’re not ready for the specific scenarios that come your way as a result.
To that end, look at your industry, your project schedule and where you see your business growing and consider the range of probable situations that will emerge as a result. Come up with logical, comprehensive plans for each scenario – so you’re not caught off guard if the market, the workforce, the industry or any other factors that shift against you. As Preston Ingalls, TBR Strategies president and CEO pointed out at the ConExpo/ConAgg 2017 exhibition, “…any attempts at scenario planning serve to help you compensate for two common – and critical – decision-making errors: under-prediction and over-prediction of change.”
Ingalls also emphasised that, while scenarios aren’t inherently predictive in nature, they do help shed light on drivers of change and provide knowledge. And in terms of knowledge, scenarios allow for you to gain insight on: (A) what you know (B) what you know you don’t know (C) and what you don’t know you don’t know.
In his presentation, Ingalls noted that strategic planning isn’t always easy, but he highlighted a 12-point plan of attack that every business should use to successfully position themselves amid both their competition and a changing marketplace: (1) Review the current state of your organisation (2) Develop a vision – “Where do we want to be?” (3) Review and-or revise mission and values (4) Identify core competencies (5) Conduct a situational analysis to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (6) Identify strategic issues (7) Set goals (8) Test goals against your vision (9) Develop key performance indicators and targets (10) Identify initiatives for focus areas (11) Develop metrics for initiatives (12) and Develop an action plan (i.e. execution).
A strategic plan fits scenario planning almost like a glove – in that it helps everyone on the team work toward the same goals, and allows you to better assess and adjust your direction in response to ever-changing circumstances.