How do we get ahead of our competition in today’s new normal? What used to work will lead to disaster in these new times. Instead, we must stand out from the crowd with our customers in mind. One way to accomplish this is to be ahead of the curve and get a running start for the New Year. If nothing else, leading the pack can be a psychological boost. It’s surprising the results this alone can achieve!

So, how do we hit the ground running for 2013? Here’s what I’ve seen to be effective: 1) Think strategy. 2) Start with your customers. 3) Prioritize innovation. 3) Pick a few priorities. 4) Execute.

  1. Think Strategy: As I’ve been thinking about what my most successful clients and client projects have in common, I’ve realized we’ve focused on strategy. When we’ve started by assessing and developing a strategy, we’ve returned a much higher ROI (return on investment). Of course, it seems like common sense. So, why haven’t I been suggesting this approach every time? Probably for the same reason as my clients – we were thinking of results yesterday and jumped into execution too quickly.Take the time to take a step back from the day-to-day to consider strategy. How does how we spend our time align with our strategy and goals? Are we working too hard to accomplish too little in terms of what will move us forward?
  2. Start with your customers: If there is a truth in the new normal, it is that customers expect more for less – and QUICK. Those executives who find a way to create a customer service edge will thrive. Do you understand what is important to your customers? How about their priorities? No matter how well you are doing, I’d bet there is more to learn. I am constantly amazed at what I didn’t know last week! Of course, it now seems obvious.
  3. Prioritize Innovation: I wanted to make sure this made the top 5 list. I see it becoming more and more important every day. It is much more than developing new products and services. The key question is, “Do you have an innovative culture?” Very few companies do. If it was easy, everyone would be the next Apple, Google etc. Yet, if you have an innovative culture, people will surprise you. The least likely innovators will develop new processes, products, services, intellectual property etc. It is worth taking a look if you want to succeed in the new normal.
  4. Pick a few priorities: Interested in a secret to success? Learn to tackle fewer priorities. If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. I’ve been under this bus more times than I’d like to admit, and my clients are no exception. What better time to take a step back to think about what is most important to your business in 2013? It’s been proven that people remember in 3’s. So why do we try to tackle 18 priorities simultaneously?
  5. Execute: As I’ve seen hundreds of times throughout my career, plans rarely fail in formulation (especially if we take the time to develop them); however, they frequently fail in execution. For example, typically 80% of large-scale projects such as ERP implementations and mergers & acquisitions fail to achieve the full benefits planned. That’s a huge percentage. How can you beat the odds? I find it boils down to leadership and performance management.

Why not start off 2013 ahead of your competition? If you’d like to see them in your tailwind, take the time to strategize how to get off to a running start – and then make it happen.