What path generates better results? Doing many little things that add up to big results, or focusing on fewer initiatives that can lead to big results?
Every organization I work with is busy—almost to the point of being overwhelmed. They have numerous strategic priorities, well-thought-out goals, and many tasks and meetings to execute well. These are all fine, but the problem arises when all tasks and initiatives start to have equal priority. Busy does not mean productive, and many initiatives do not mean great results.
A leader’s job is to help the organization and their people focus on what really drives results. The best strategic advice, in my opinion, is to do fewer but bigger initiatives. Here’s why:
1. Focused Execution. Fewer initiatives mean a greater amount of attention. Imagine if you only have three big projects this year instead of ten small ones. You would be able to learn and think about them more—leading to greater creativity and insights, communication would be stronger among the stakeholders that you need to engage with, and you would be able to manage the details more effectively, which is where good execution is derived from.
2. Higher Resource Impact. I have seen many budgets spread thin in favour of doing more activity. The rationale is that more activity keeps you active in front of consumers and therefore generates more awareness.
For example, several years ago one food client developed four campaigns, three packaging changes, and two new product lines in one year on a smaller budget. They were very busy. However, the result was that the campaigns generated very little awareness, and the changes to products and packaging didn’t result in greater distribution. The better strategy would have been to concentrate their budget on maximizing one or two campaigns and focusing attention on one product launch that would have driven incremental listings and sales.
3. Greater Accountability for Strategy. When you choose to do less you need to make better decisions. Having more initiatives spreads out your risk and makes it difficult to pinpoint areas of accountability. However, choosing fewer initiatives forces your strategic planning to be better because the stakes are higher. How will the market respond to this? Are we certain we can execute well? Are we investing enough to make this successful? Do we have the right people on this?
My strategic advice for this year: Bet big on one or two initiatives.
The rest is busy work that could be distracting you and your team from getting the results that really matter.