Create a Path to Get There: Refine and Decide
Post 10 in our 12-week series on Creating a Strategy.
It’s hard to believe it’s already week 10 of our 12-week series. You’ve come so far from where we started. You’ve looked at where you currently are, explored of what might be possible, and now you’re creating your path forward. With only a few weeks left, this is when all your work pays off.
As your strategy begins to come together, you have two crucial steps to complete before you can create your strategic path forward: Refine and Review, and Keep, Kill, or Evolve
Refine and Review
Last week you went outside your own bubble to look, listen, and learn more about your ideas, their potential market, and customers. Now it’s time to take what you have learned and refine your ideas. Evolve them from what you initially thought of, to include relevant refinements you learned. Are you adjusting your market? Are you adjusting your feature set? Have you combined any of your smaller ideas into one larger idea? Are you having second thoughts about an idea’s feasibility, viability, or desirability to an end customer? Don’t overthink this; you’re not trying to get to the perfect idea, just make any adjustments needed.
Once you have refined your ideas, you can take each idea and summarize it to include the following:
- Idea Overview (Summary)
- Why it’s interesting to you or your organization (Why it matters)
- Potential Customer(s) or Buyer(s)
- Open Questions or Areas of Risk or Interest you need to explore
- Actions to keep this idea moving forward
Make sure you document this in a place that’s easy to reference, and easy to review and revise over time. You’ll be returning to this list frequently. (We recommend using Miro boards, spreadsheets, or other shared places.)
For example, imagine you are the local Leadership Development coach we mentioned earlier; his idea summaries could look something like this:
These summaries now comprise your working queue of new ideas you’re exploring.
Keep, Kill, or Evolve
Once you have refined your ideas and translated them to your working queue. Review them and ask yourself a few key questions:
- Based on what you’ve learned, are they still areas you’re interested in?
- Are you willing to do the work needed to move them forward?
- Are you able to do the work needed to move them forward?
- What organizational changes would be needed to support them?
Taking these things into consideration, make a decision on each. Your options are to:
- Keep the idea. Continue pursuing it.
- Kill it. Put it to rest in the graveyard, with notes on why it was killed (e.g., It’s not the right time, we aren’t interested in this customer, pricing is problematic, etc.)
- Evolve the idea. Does the idea need to change significantly? If so, how? Then, evolve it and loop back to the look, listen, and learn step to ensure you gain the knowledge you need to evaluate it.
If you kill any of the ideas in your working queue, you can go back to your previous lists and pull one forward, taking it through the same process we followed before you add it to the working queue.
Be strict about your working queue. It should only contain the ideas you’ve decided to keep and those ideas you’re evolving. The only things allowed to stay on this list are ideas that are actively being worked on. Nothing should live on this list past a check-in or two without some sort of progress. Weeks or months of ongoing “no-update” or “I didn’t have time” isn’t helpful to anyone. It’s either on the list and active, or it’s not on the list.
Take the time to complete these steps with care and thoughtfulness. Be honest with yourself about the potential of each idea and the refinements you’ve heard from others. For the ideas you choose to keep or evolve, commit to doing the work needed to see if they sink or swim. Don’t just say you will and then do nothing.
You started this process to create a strategy, a plan, that would move you forward and allow you to accomplish great things — now is the time. Don’t cheat yourself by cheating the last few steps.
Good luck this week! This step can be hard, but trust the process and make some decisions. Next week, we’ll focus on creating your path forward and we’ll wrap the series looking at how you tell your story to gain buy-in and momentum. Get ready because these weeks will go quickly!
Need a refresher on previous weeks? Here they are:
- Week 1: Unique Value Proposition, Current Customers, and Current Market
- Week 2: Competition, Current Challenges, Initial Ideas, and Aspirations
- Week 3: Exploration, Understanding and Empathy
- Week 4: Synthesis and Mapping
- Week 5: Ideation
- Week 6: Narrow and Focus
- Week 7: Review and Reflect
- Week 8: Identify Your Priorities
- Week 9: Look, Listen and Learn
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