During a strategic retreat, the Chairman of the board was so impressed by my non-conventional approach to strategic planning that he labeled me Mr. Strategy. Here is what he said verbatim:
“Mr. Strategy told us to focus on identifying our distinctive competence and developing capabilities to leverage it. I agree. He has also told us about focusing on a few things, by emphasizing that strategy is about making choices about how to win with customers and the stakeholders against the competition. And he is right. We have been trying to do so many things, which has made us lose our identity. Thanks a lot, Mr. Strategy for these insights.”
As consultants, our objective in every engagement is to transform the client. To make them better. And to do this, I usually ask a few questions that guide the strategy review process:
- Context: where does the company or business stand today? Who is having the company’s lunch and where do they stand?
- The destination: where and how can the company compete, against which kind of competition and grow business in ways that transform the industry?
- Investment: What kind of capabilities – 6 Ms – money, machinery, manpower, materials, markets, and make-up are needed to make it happen? Which capabilities and systems do we need to win?
As a strategy planning process facilitator, you are leading a team to think better and win in their respective market or industry. Your first responsibility is to avoid making people spend time on irrelevant tasks or work. The easiest way to lose credibility is by making people spend a lot of time doing analysis which you do not have use for.
Take an example of the traditional or conventional traditional planning process. You get 15 to 20 people of the company’s top talent, and make them spend over 2 hours analyzing the kind of skills they need before you discuss the how to win and where to win choices?
The best way is to understand the outcomes, the storyline, and stick it using a form of a few guiding questions, when if answered well, will help you have a strategy to guide growth.
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When you ask the three questions, you challenge the team to find answers to the right questions. asking where the company or business stands today, invites the team to think about the key things to the business now, how success is measured, and where they stand. It is like asking a person, what is your state of health today? You are typically challenging them to undertake a comprehensive health check, which examines the key indicators of a healthy person from body temperature, to the heart rate, blood pressure state of the kidney and liver, and general wellbeing. That is a great current state assessment.
As a confidant of some of the most talented and senior executives, when I work in mentoring newly appointed CEOs or EDs to win in their roles, the focus is on giving them the tools to facilitate transformation initiatives, make an instant impact in their new roles while keeping the key stakeholders – the board – aware of the ambition and outcomes.
Are you a newly appointed or experienced leader who needs a hand of a trusted expert to make you even better in your role? Contact the undersigned. Remember, in these tough times, everyone needs a confidant. Someone who will look through the reports, to fine-tune them or the presentation to align it to the audience or reader expectations. It is a superhighway to excelling as a C-level executive. Remember, it is easier to reach something if you know what you are reaching for. And that is usually the focus of my interventions. How to make the client (mentee) excel in their new roles.
Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.