Whether or not the marketplace has you feeling backed into a corner, ask yourself these strategic questions:
1. What’s the most important thing? There’s no right or wrong answer, but your market may have changed. Spot it and hit the reset button.
2. What can we let slide? Now is the time to drop any client or line of business that’s not serving you well. Blame it on the economy. Purging unproductive activity will free you for more profitable endeavors.
3. What would inspire these guys? Try to see things from your employees’ point of view, resist the urge to tell them how to think and then make it easier for them to please your customers.
4. What is the worst sore spot I can turn into an opportunity? Find it and fix it.
5. What else do our customers see as a “fail”? After you’ve eliminated the biggest problem, correct those issues, too.
6. Whom could we partner with? New opportunities come from new relationships or new takes on old partnerships. Go see people.
7. How can we be more strategic? Don’t mess around with tactics until you know what you want to accomplish.
8. How can we be fast and smart? Slow down your thinking and planning on the front end so you can go faster later.
9. Whatdo I need most? Probably listening. Maybe coaching or making decisions. Find out what it is by (gulp) asking.
10. What’s my real job? Imagine yourself operating at a higher level and then activate the new you.
11. How will we know when we win? Put in qualitative as well as quantitative markers. You’ll know.
12. How will I face my biggest fear? Name it and tame it.
— Adapted from “TwelveQuestions for 2010,” Gayle Lantz, BusinessWeek.