Strategic Management

What to do if your board or top-team is not looking at the critical success factors that your business needs to tackle

It’s easy for boards and top-teams to get caught-up in the routine of managing the business and even in the routine of managing the board agenda! My experience has been that if you give people the opportunity to examine the right issues and some structure to do it with, they’ll usually be more than ready to do so.


As a working definition, a Critical Success Factor (CSF) is anything that is vital for your strategy to be successful. You can think of a CSF as a make or break issue – hence “critical”.  One relatively easy way to identify some of your CSFs is to ask the question: “Why would a customer choose us instead of a competitor?


Just occasionally, there are two factors which can unconsciously create resistance to taking the right amount and quality of time for your board or top-team to properly examine the factors that make your business successful. Those are:

  1. without necessarily admitting it to themselves or to each other, directors are aware that something important is not going right
  1. the organization is very busy but not outstandingly successful financially and there’s an “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentally getting in the way of doing it better.

If that’s the case in your business, you’ll need to act as a catalyst and influencer so that the right people will give these issues their conscious attention. If you’re the boss, that’s relatively easy to do and it may be you’ve just not had the time or process to think about it before. If you’re not the boss, you’ll need to start building alliances and setting out the case for change, so that the Critical Success Factors for your business can be managed properly.

If you want to get a head-start identifying your CSFs, try downloading my area-analysis grid by clicking on the picture at the top of this article. This grid is also a great process to use at a board awayday session. Try sticking a big grid on the wall or the floor and then populating it with Post-its.

 

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