Why your high-level strategy matters

by 26 Jan 2017
David Lykken

When I consult with leaders in the mortgage industry, the first thing I always go over is the importance of developing an organizational purpose. The overarching “why” of the organization is the guiding principle under which every activity of the business is carried out. I cannot overstate the importance of knowing who you are and why you do what you do before you move onto everything else.

Sometimes, however, I'll get a little bit of push back on this idea. Thinking about things like organizational purpose and top-level business strategy can be seen as a distraction from the day-to-day operations. What really matters, some may say, isn't strategy; it's execution. The worry is that we might spend too much time thinking and philosophizing about our businesses and not enough time implementing our plans. Placing too much focus on strategy can be seen as wasteful and impractical.

While I can certainly empathize with this fear, I think the worry is unwarranted. Strategy doesn't have to take the place of action. It isn't either/or; you can have both. In fact, if you're running a business, I think you will necessarily have action. The decisions your people are making every day are going to happen regardless. The only question is whether or not those decisions are organized under an overarching guiding principle – or whether they are chaotic and unstructured.

Thinking about your high-level strategy doesn't mean you're just sitting in a corner office and dreaming up things that will never happen. You can have a top level strategy, an “organizational why,” that has a direct impact on your day-to-day operations. When you do, you will at least know that the decisions being made by your people are actually working toward accomplishing your goals. That's what developing a strategy is all about.