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September newsletter

How Good Is Your Strategy?

Jean Pousson offers some thoughts to executives as we, at Board Evaluation, launch our Strategic Health Assessment tool.

Given increased customer sophistication and expectations and a generally more competitive landscape, it comes as no surprise that creating and implementing strategies has become increasingly more challenging. Here are a few thoughts for Boards and Directors:

No business plan survives its first collision with reality! The speed of reaction, therefore, becomes that much more crucial. Boards must not be afraid to call 999. From time to time you will get it wrong, business literature is full of examples on this. Flexibility entails carrying out frequent reviews to ensure that the original assumptions are still valid. As Mike Tyson, former heavyweight boxer once commented I always have Plan A until I get hit in the face! Reality oh so often spoils fantasies.

Process; how good is the process of strategy creation? How many were involved? Were all stakeholders consulted or was the strategy the work of one terminally self-absorbed CEO? Has the process ever been audited?

Fatal attraction to spreadsheets; financial strategy supports corporate strategy not the other way around. Strategies have to deliver value but the starting point should never be we need a return of X, so let us work backwards from there. That is very limiting and plain bad practice.

Ugly baby syndrome; avoid! Has there been sufficient robust challenge to the strategic decisions? Omerta, i.e. the code of silence, may work well for the Sicilian Mafia but should not be imported into Boardrooms. Conversational coma is not a capability for directors to cherish.

Advantage is rooted in difference; how different are you to your competitors? Do you understand your competitors strategic intent and source of competitive advantage? How will this industry look like in a few years time? Who will be the key players? Who will be winners and losers? What is the craziest thing that your competitors could do? Those who live by the sword get shot by those who dont! (Indiana Jones, the movie) Sony and Nokia must be raging at the success of Apple; your competitors, very often, come from outside your industry!!

Business Model; far too often strategic options are formulated within the context of an existing situation and the very raison detre of the organisation is not challenged. How often therefore is the Business Model questioned and who is doing the questioning?

In March of this year, Encyclopedia Britannica announced the end of its printed editions. First published between 1768 and 1771, it became known as the compendium of knowledge and was once described by Time Magazine as The Patriarch of the Library. Information obtained from Wikipedia; nothing is forever!!

Good luck out there



Online Strategic Health Check

Jeans comments are thought provoking and if you think your organisations strategic planning process needs to be improved or maybe it would benefit from a thorough review, why not consider making use of the BEL online strategic health check product. This looks at all aspects of strategy and strategic planning, including an assessment of the Boards role in setting and monitoring the organisations strategy. It has been designed by experienced practitioners with decades of experience in working with numerous organisations across a range of sectors including the public and third sectors.

Details of the product can be viewed at the BEL website www.board-evaluation.co.uk where there is more information about what you have to do carry out your own strategic healthcheck, exactly what it is, who should be involved, why it is necessary, how the product was developed, what topics are covered, what benefits it will bring and how the healthcheck is completed.

The process is straightforward - each participant logs on to a confidential online portal at a time to suit them. It then takes no more than 30 minutes to complete the multiple choice questionnaire. Your team is given a timeframe in which to complete the questionnaire and results are delivered to you in an easy to read report format within 2-3 weeks of completion.

If you would like further information, please contact Gary Cowdrill on 0870 720 3904 or at gary.cowdrill@board-evaluation.co

Board Evaluation Ltd is an independent practice led by experienced advisors focused on helping organisations develop best practice board processes.