Solving strategic gaps and problems
Over the course of my career I’ve worked at different levels of organisations, in good and bad workplace cultures, leading both small and large teams. The common theme I’ve found is that if your organisation can’t explain simply and clearly what you do and why, you get organisational or mission drift.
Teams need something to hang their hat on: a direction, a vision, a mission, a narrative. They need a common sense of where they are going and why.
Something as simple as a strategic planning session to identify key organisational outcomes and deliverables can go a long way towards diagnosing or solving strategic gaps. It is quite fundamental to any organisation big or small.
Maybe there is a strategy already in place, I can help review these strategic plans to assess their delivery and where needed, facilitate revision, refreshing or re-engagement with the appropriate stakeholders to update them.
Diagnosing and solving strategic problems is fundamental to any organisation. Whether you’re building houses, growing ethical supply chains, or trying to navigate the regulatory landscape to effect change, good strategic thinking is about being explicit, overt and deliberate, and it’s bloody hard to do that by yourself!
What is a strategy consultant?
Strategy consultants will typically advise organisations when it comes to high level decision making processes around the direction of the organisation. A consultant has an unbiased view and draws on you, your teams and deep industry knowledge to help deliver fresh outcomes or strategic changes to execution.
Solid strategy is essential for teams to be empowered, to feel their work contributes to something bigger, to feel their time is valued. If they clearly understand the strategy that is in place it will give them the confidence to use their skills, passions and interests in a way that contributes positively to organisational outcomes, they become engaged and interested.
I like the analogy of the sailor: There are currents, tides, winds, other boats, obstacles, and debris that you need to contend with every day. But if you don’t know your destination (your strategy) it doesn’t matter how well you handle those daily (tactical) challenges.
I particularly enjoy working with executives, leadership teams, and boards. Having been a leader myself, I found that an external perspective forced me to better explain the situation and see it for what it was. While traditional coaching can help do this, a fellow leader with experience leading an organisation is helpful to unpack situations, reveal assumptions and biases and get out of the detail. This supports robust strategy.
Who can use a strategy consultant?
Reviewing a strategy can apply to many different organisation types across different sectors.
- Government; including Agencies, Departments or Directorates at local, state, or federal levels
- Regulators; including independent and statutory bodies, authorities, departmental regulators, commissions, councils, regulatory agencies or private regulatory bodies
- Government owned organisations; including corporatised organisations or state owned enterprises
- Not for Profit Organisations; including community service organisations, advocacy and behaviour change organisations, member based organisations, professional or business associations, or sporting or recreational clubs
- Small to medium sized business; especially where you turn over over $500k or more and have a cross functional team delivery products or services
I regularly work with organsation leaders at all levels like CEO’s, COOs, CIOs, Board Chair, Board Secretary, Secretary, Deputy Secretary or even Departmental Heads, Chief Officers, General Managers, Executive Directors and Directors.
My passion is working with executives, leadership teams, and boards. Having been a leader myself, I found that an external perspective forced me to better explain the situation and see it for what it was.
While traditional coaching can help do this, a fellow leader with experience leading an organisation is helpful to unpack situations, reveal assumptions and biases and get out of the detail. This supports robust strategy.
The top questions a strategy consultant can help answer
Do this test for yourself, can you clearly articulate your organisations role by understanding your:
If you asked your team the same question would their answers be the same?
Is there a clear vision of how this will look in three to five years from now?
Do you complete annual reviews or strategic checks?
Do you understand your organisation’s role? Do you understand your:
Can you anticipate three to five years from now? Do you complete annual reviews or strategic checks? If you ask any member of your team what the organisation’s vision is, will you get the same answer?
Some of examples of where or how I have helped as a strategy consultant;
- Lead Leadership Retreats to help review, revise or reaffirm organisational direction
- Facilitated Co-design of Organisational Vision and mission
- Facilitated sessions to identify organisational values, principles and objectives
- Facilitated sessions to identify organisational objectives
- Facilitated sessions to develop team owned guiding and preferred behaviours
- Strategic planning sessions to identify key organisational outcomes and deliverables
- Development of monitoring and evaluation plans to drive delivery of corporate strategies and plan
- Development of Corporate and Strategic Plans
- Review and Update of Organisational and Corporate strategies
- Development of regional, state, country or local strategic plans to align with corporate, global or national plans
- Review of strategic plan delivery and revision, refresh or re-engagement of strategic plans
- Opportunity, barrier and problem analysis for strategic plan review or mid-cycle check-in
Strategy Consultant Case Study
FSC: Strategic Planning
When I ran the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Australia one of the first things I did was try to understand where the organisation was going. Then I focused on how best to create the culture, systems, partners and people to get there. With a stakeholder governance board whose composition was based on conflicted perspectives (economic members, social members, environmental members) we really needed a shared vision.
- Facilitated workshop
- Developed Discussion papers
- Undertook Surveys and Market Research
- Undertook Strategic review
- Facilitated development of a 5 year vision
I brought together the board and staff over a two-day facilitated workshop to build a common vision, mission and set of services that articulated what success would look like over the next five years.
I then consolidated feedback, insights and observations to create a strategic plan on a page and sought Board member feedback. Using feedback from individual board members, I worked with my team to incorporate feedback and finalised the plan for board review and approval.
We ended up with a stronger sense of direction, greater clarity on what we needed to do and why, and built an implementation plan with the board and team to create the organisation we needed to be successful.
I left FSC Australia to lead the 11 FSC offices across Asia. Having had a clear strategy for what was needed in Australia, it become apparent that no such plan existed at the regional level, nor in the other countries. With product supply chains that connected all the offices across Asia and into Europe, there was need to leverage FSC’s scale to create a cohesive strategy.
The existing culture was focused on individual countries rather than how they worked together to grow the whole FSC supply chain. For example, Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand were creating raw FSC timber product that would then be processed in China and Vietnam to create finished product that would go to Europe.
- Focussed, country specific strategies & goals
- Clear business metrics
- Improved staff performance
- Improved investment
‘Adam was the perfect CEO, inspiring and mentoring his staff to deliver innovation and excellence in a high pressure, low resource environment. He deftly supported the board to manage complex strategic challenges and greatly strengthened stakeholder confidence in the organisation.’
Former Chair FSC Australia and CEO Environment Victoria
Through a series of workshops, discussion papers, surveys and getting country leaders together, we developed a more integrated understanding of what was going on in a markets and then developed a regional strategy that leveraged this.
From this we created individual country strategies nested under the regional strategy, and we set performance metrics that would help us understand how we were best working together to deliver our shared goals.
- Co-design and collaborative development of a Regional Strategic Plan
- Translation of Regional Strategy to Country Strategic Plans
- Conversion of Country Strategic Plans into annual operational Plans
- Breakdown of Annual Operational Plans into quarterly activity and targets
Over two years we aligned effort, resources, motivation and talent to deliver on these shared goals. Managers could see how this contributed not only to their own country’s goals, but to regional and global objectives as well. This drove better investment, resulting in more funding.