As small business owners, we tend to avoid a deep dive into strategy at the best of times. Face it, we are usually too busy fighting the day to day fires, keeping up with communications and managing the finances. Yet the time always comes when we need to put down the fire extinguisher long enough to take a hard look at how we are going to take our businesses to a new level.

This process usually begins with scouring over the financials, reviewing actual results against projected goals, and gauging client satisfaction. While data and analysis are sound approaches to strategy, this approach doesn’t allow for a ton of creative, out of the box thinking.

Henry Ford said that if he had asked his customers what they wanted, they would have said faster horses. Ford certainly wasn’t focused on his company data, to find a faster solution to get around.

Do you want to be more innovative in your business? Then try this solution-based strategic approach complements of the co-authors of Playing to Win.

Create Choices – There are always multiple ways to reach the end goal. Create completely different ways to get you to the same result.

Specify Conditions – Once a list of possibilities has been established, review each one independently as a viable strategy. Ask your team what conditions would need to be in place for that possibility to be successful?  Note that you aren’t asking if these conditions exist already.

Identify Barriers – Now that the conditions have been identified, review each one and decide which of these are the highest risk of coming to fruition.

Design and Conduct Tests – Look at research, or conduct surveys to see if there are ways to reduce the risk of these identified barriers. This is where data can be very helpful.

Make Your Choice — based upon the solution that has the highest chance of succeeding.

Maybe you won’t be as famous as Henry Ford, but this approach has certainly helped many businesses get out of the rut of status quo and positively impact the direction of their company.

AvatarCidnee Stephen

Cidnee Stephen is the owner of Strategies for Success, a marketing company that focuses on the needs of budget minded small businesses and professional services. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.