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#283: Selecting a strategy
Guest blog: George Barnett, The Strategy Toolkit gives us some insights on what is needed to focus on a new strategy
We speak a lot about culture eating strategy for breakfast, but that doesn’t mean we need to dismiss strategy all-together. It takes quite a bit of energy and focus to define a winning strategy.
I’m using a few pieces from George Barnett with his permission to highlight strategy and its importance.
George Barnett, Author of The Strategy Toolkit is a strategy geek based in Silicon Valley: an engineer, diplomat, consultant, investor, and entrepreneur, with two decades of experience working with companies of all sizes around the world as part of the Monitor Group and the ClearLake Group. Since 2015, he has invested a disproportionate amount of time working with technology firms growing new businesses based on cloud-based software, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing.
I asked George to put together a one-page case study. This is a very quick snapshot of what it takes to come up with an appropriate strategy for your firm to execute on. Without giving us details on who this customer is, take a look at this:
Employee engagement / relationship strategy
What was the challenge?
A niche banking firm, in service to one of its most important corporate accounts, a large American media conglomerate, that was struggling with employee engagement and retention
Tasked with designing and delivering a new and exciting platform of offerings to the customer’s employees, taking advantage of fintech and social media innovations
A wide range of strategic options had already been identified, reflecting the diversity of the employee segmentation
Simplifying the final set of offerings, consistent with the company’s brand, had proven very divisive at the executive level
What did it take to complete the work successfully?
The team gathered and assessed, as inputs, the work to date, including the previous effort that led to the set of strategic options (the degree to which the options were notional versus being grounded in evidence, related financial projections, trend and risk analysis, etc.). We interviewed the key stakeholders extensively to assess preferences and differences. The bank CEO set out strict guardrails in terms of adhering to their long-term principles of operation, and recently revised corporate strategic vision and focus statements. Data gaps were identified and modules of supplemental research and analysis launched.
The data, both internal market-related and examples of external comparables, were then analysed and structured into pre-read materials for the executive team to review in advance of an offsite session. Added to these pre-read materials were relevant and provocative examples of new research regarding employee incentives and brand strategy. Topics ranged from the contradictory nature of managing the costs of customer acquisition and retention, within the overall context of employee benefit packages, to the tensions between new employees and those banking customers no longer employees of the conglomerate (the “alumni effect”), to the growing power and usefulness of customer usage datasets in a time of mobile apps and evolving expectations of user experience.
The senior executive team met for a full-day offsite workshop to debate the relative merits of the strategic options. The facilitators reviewed the pre-read materials and used choice structuring tools to characterise the options in depth and reverse engineer the executives’ underlying biases and preferences. The strengths and weaknesses of the options were summarised, leading to a vote to determine the dominant option. A report was thereafter compiled with recommendations and accompanying implementation guidance. At the next board meeting, the team partners presented the strategic report and led a Q&A session to stress-test the resultant strategy.
Overall, the demands on the resources of the bank were minimal (2-3 days of each of a dozen persons’ time), a direct result of our having dedicated a team of 3-4 FTEs plus 2 partners for the duration of a month.
Why am I showing you this?
As I mentioned above, although culture eats strategy for breakfast, there is a lot that goes into picking the correct one for you organization. Whether you are picking a strategy for an automotive company or one to navigate the next recession, it takes time, effort, and focus to do so.
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On a regular basis, George highlights ‘Strategies in the News’. And in one of his recent October posts, he shows the various methods people use and links to the supporting article for more details. For example:
How to navigate the next recession
“A better way to think about a recession, if it comes, is to look at America as it is today. Consider three different facets: the real economy, the financial system and the central bank. All three, working in concert, suggest that a recession would be relatively mild. Households and businesses’ balance-sheets are mostly strong. Risks in the financial system appear to be manageable. The Fed, for its part, has been too slow to respond to inflation, but the credibility it has built up over the past few decades means it can still fight an effective rearguard action.”
Who do you discuss strategy with? Do you have a competent team where you can receive objective input? Would you be interested in sitting around the table with 12-15 objective fellow CEO’s or Presidents to discuss how your strategy should be executed? Or even if it should? Our partnership with Vistage Michigan gives you that ability! Schedule 15-20 minutes with us to see how this concept works!
As we say often, it’s hard work today, but it will improve your tomorrow! If you are looking to define a new way of working, give us a call at Kole Performance Group. Want to set up a 15-20 minute call to find out more? You can now book directly onto my calendar for a ZOOM Meeting!