If you’ve done quality time in politics or at a publicly traded company, you know that strategic thinking is embedded into leadership roles and into the roles of those who support leadership. But the looming question is, how do some of them get it right and others get it terribly wrong? Let us also ask: is this process going deep enough within the institutional thinking of organized real estate?

I worked in organized real estate for more than 15 years, but I still vividly remember the hefty strategic loads I had to carry in my previous industries. The lessons learned are priceless and enduring.

One former boss was an elected official. If we had 10 minutes between appearances and meetings she would say, let’s sit and use this time to strategize. Seriously, with only 10 minutes. That’s how much she valued strategy as key to her success. And it was.

What Are We Talking About?

Randall Rollinson, President of LBL Strategies, puts it this way: “Strategic leadership is a shared responsibility of many from across the organization coming together to exercise their particular leadership responsibilities in a distributed, integrated and systematic fashion . . . To accomplish this level of strategic maturity takes time, well‐placed effort and transparent communication by all members of the strategic leadership team. Integral to this process is developing an effective strategy grounded in a realistic understanding of the market environment as it intersects the core capabilities of the organization. “

Rollinson believes that often leadership teams don’t have all the facts and make assumptions about present realities, based on past experience, not actual proof. He calls it a ‘fact gap’ which results in varying degrees of risk.

Are You Digging Deeply Enough?

As you think about your last strategic planning exercise, were all necessary facts pertinent to your business success presented?

Some examples could be:

  • A firm grasp of your customer realities
    • Are they fans or settling for your services until something better comes along?
    • Do you provide any unique and beneficial offerings?
    • Is there another entity taking better care of your customer than you are?
  • A grasp of financial realities
    • Do you have non-dues revenue strategies? Do you need them?
    • Is your business model sustainable or just hanging on a limb until something chops it down?
    • Are you robbing Peter to pay Paul?
  • A glimpse into future possibilities
    • Where is the industry going? And is your organization on that path? (follow the money and the data)
    • Who is your true competition and why?
  • An honest look at where you want to be and who you want to be as a brand and a business
    • Do you have a plan in place?
    • Are the elements of your plan actionable and flexible?
    • Is your strategic plan integrated into your day-to-day or month-to-month operations?
    • Is anyone keeping track of it?

Organized real estate today is experiencing competitive forces as never before. Other industries have lived at a fever-pitched competitive level as a matter of course. It is their normal. But multiple listing services and REALTOR® associations have enjoyed a captive and predictable customer base since their inception. Truthfully, these competitive forces will not go away. The new normal in real estate is to find a strategic advantage and hold on to it.

When we look at successful strategic moves in other industries, we can begin to recognize their process, the analysis and the planning undertaken.

A recent example is Tesla. The goal: to become the world’s largest automobile company which meant they would need to own the lower priced end of the consumer market. The strategy: to become the coveted brand by creating of one of the most expensive, highest performance, and unique sports cars on the market, the Roadster. Once the brand took hold in the luxury markets, they then created a more affordable model. It worked.

Here is an example of a strategy in real estate without using brand names. The goal: to empower people by making it radically easier for them to move. The strategy: to create seamless and convenient real estate information and transaction processes. In effect, to be the best provider of real estate services. The result: becoming the household name in real estate, a successful dominance of the real estate brand.

These events didn’t just happen. They were the result of long game strategic thinking. As with any successful strategy, it takes an honest view of where you are in the big picture of your industry, where you want to be, what are the assets you have to get there, and what are the assets you lack. Once you find the hook, you can build a realistic plan that is actionable, malleable, and follows a timeline.

And finally, it’s not necessary to attempt to be all and do all of everything for everyone. The valuable lessons learned from those who have succeeded is that they zeroed in on an over-arching goal, not a bajillion of them. They collected tough love data about themselves and their industry. They found their niche and milked it to victory by integrating strategy into their operations.

Associations of REALTORS® and MLSs have great bone structure. You represent capable organizations that provide a unified benefit to the agents and brokers you serve. You are the center of the community of professionals. However, too often the customer says that your organizations are too slow, outdated, fragmented, closed to innovation, lacking in workflow integration. These are all fixable with good goal setting, tracking progress, accountability systems, communications, and change management.

If you would like to take your strategic planning to the next level, please contact us.