The 3 “Why’s” of strategy

This time of the year everyone is getting ready for some version of strategizing. You’re either going through a formal strategic planning process or an informal “what the heck are we gonna do next year” process. While strategizing is important and needs to be done, I’m here today to pose a challenge when doing your planning for next year: don’t just focus on “how” you are going to be successful; focus on “why” you are going to be successful.

In fact, moving beyond the “How” of your business and into the “Why” of your business may be your most important strategy next year (and every year!). Without knowing the why’s, you may never be able to truly identify the how’s or, at least, never identify the most appropriate how’s to make your organization optimally successful. Answering “How are we going to meet our goals next year?” needs to be augmented with “Why are we going to meet our goals next year?”

When considering the why’s of your business, there are three primary “why’s” to address:

1. Why do you do what you do?



While this is certainly addressed in your company’s Mission and Vision Statements, the question becomes if it’s something that you live every day and talk about openly and frequently. I’ve read many beautifully written and well-intentioned statements printed in annual reports and hanging in Board rooms but then fail to see such eloquence transferred to action in the company’s ongoing performance.  

If you say you exist to serve the community, are you as active in the community as you can be? If you say you exist to serve your members, do you really put their needs before yours? If you say you’re going to be the best at something, are you really investing in the resources needed to truly be the best?

Get employees involved in crafting the mission and vision and expect them to identify how they’re going to live it every day. In this way, they won’t be living your dream, they’ll be living their dream and, as a result, that dream will have a much greater chance of being realized.

Living your mission and vision is what’s important and fully fulfilling them is what will propel your performance to much greater heights next year. Make it the core of your planning process – derive your strategic and tactical plans from your mission and vision, not the other way around.

2. Why do your employees come into work every day?

Many leaders say their employees are their greatest asset. If that’s true then those leaders should be investing in a culture that allows those “assets” to thrive and excel and realize happiness at work. Most employees don’t just want a job; they want a work experience that’s rewarding, motivating, and gratifying. They want to contribute to something that’s special, vibrant, and thriving.

Your strategic initiatives next year need to include a realistic investment in the employment culture at your organization. For starters: Do your employees have the tools and skills they need to perform like you expect them to? Do they receive the ongoing support from coaches and other departments to continue to grow and succeed? Do you have a reward and recognition program that’s truly motivating and inclusive of all staff and all areas of performance?

Not only will investing in this culture allow you to better position existing staff for greater success but it’ll also position your organization to be more successful in attracting the right kind of individuals to fill future roles. After all, who wouldn’t want to work at an organization that includes a heavy focus on investing in “culture” in its strategic planning process?

Collectively and individually, knowing why your employees chose to work for you and continue to perform at enhanced levels will be vital to maintaining and especially maximizing their future contribution.

3. Why do your members choose you?



Today, consumers have a myriad of choices – it seems there are new and different financial services providers all the time. So the key question becomes why do they choose you? Why would potential members choose you? And why would your current members continue to choose you? Is it because you have the right products at fair prices with easy access and dependable delivery?   

Like many organizations, you may be incorporating “member service” into your strategizing but you can’t afford to just focus on your service performance with existing members. You need to know enough about current members to determine why they do business with you and what keeps them coming back. What do they like and dislike? How do you make them feel throughout their interactions with you? When they think of doing business with you, what thoughts come to mind?

But be warned: the old rules of member affinity and loyalty don’t apply nearly as much in today’s world. Today’s members are loyal to their choice – their ability to choose the best, fastest, and easiest financial services provider. It matters far less what provider they’ve chosen in the past; you need to be able to meet or exceed their current and future expectations for them to choose you again and again in the future.

Understanding how and why members and non-members make the choices they make needs to be a big component of your strategic focus next year.

Answer these three why’s and develop strategic initiatives based on the answers and you will see optimized performance next year. Continue to answer them, recognizing that the answers may change slightly over time, and your organizational performance will take quantum leaps. Make these answers the core of your future strategic planning process and strategizing will become much more consistent and much less laborious for years to come.

There is no perfect strategy and most strategies need to change over time with your unique goals and initiatives. Further, the success of your future strategies is determined almost entirely by the effectiveness of your execution. So the incorporation of answering these three why’s into your strategic planning process will not only produce the most appropriate plans but also position your organization for the most successful execution.

If your organization needs to determine your why’s and define your strategies for next year and beyond, my firm is ready to help. Please contact me at or 636-578-3280.

Paul Robert

Paul Robert

Paul Robert has been helping financial institutions drive their retail growth strategies for over 20 years. Paul is the Chief Executive Officer for FI Strategies, LLC, a small but mighty ... Web: Details

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