Our hypothesis was that we could build on the learnings from a similar program that was already in motion in Brazil, lead by our partner Strategy Tools, where one of the key objectives was how to develop a world-class strategy team in a 100% digital environment.
The First Contacts
In the beginning, the companies we invited were a bit skeptical about what value they could expect out of it, as some of them were already working with top-consultancy firms, have well-established strategy teams (with years of experience formulating and executing strategy), and well, usually have a pretty loaded agenda.
However, one of the things that intrigued them, was the possibility to be part of a cohort where they would be interacting with the strategy teams of other companies (from different industries). So they could learn and share their view on how each one handles their strategy (without sharing the details of their own strategy).
Finally, the corporate strategy teams of three leading companies in their own industries joined the cohort, with a total market value of more than $20 BN USD: Alpura, Grupo Bimbo, and Grupo Lamosa.
The strategy teams were represented by personnel from strategy, innovation, M&As, corporate venture capital, investor relations, and digital transformation among others. Stakes were high and we could feel the high expectations of all of them.
One challenge was how we could foster collaboration and maintain high energy in a remote environment. Let’s face it, how many times have you been in a remote session where you end up doing something else in parallel, because the energy was just lost?
The program is structured in four modules, focused on understanding the different approaches to strategy (yes, there are different views about it), roles & influence of strategy teams, dealing with industry shifts, understanding strategy as business transformation, and a roadmap to build our world-class strategy team.
Access to updated tools on strategy, live digital workshops, and 1:1 digital mentoring complement the program.
During the four sessions, each team had different learnings, based on their own context and current needs. However, we can summarise the key learnings as follows:
- The strategy must be simple and clear. For some teams, it was surprising that even in their own strategy team, there were different views and sometimes many elements on what was their corporate strategy.
- You need to ask the right questions. Methodologies and tools should help you to focus on discussing the right questions. It’s more important to ask the right question than give a lecture on strategy.
Alignment is critical to make strategy happen.
- Strategy teams need to become influencers in their organization, otherwise, they won’t have a seat at the big boys’ table. There are different roles for strategy teams, however, at least we need some members to be able to ask the tough questions with Board Members or the C-Suite.
- Strategy teams play a fundamental job to communicate and execute the strategy. It’s not only important to have a clear strategy, but that everybody in the organization understands it and feels part of it.
- Having a multidisciplinary strategy team is extremely relevant to cover different roles they should play: analyst, scout, big systems thinker, and influencer. Each company needs to find its right balance in those roles, and design its own strategy team roadmap to develop the required capabilities to become influencers and big system thinkers.
- Our strategy must go beyond our CORE business, however, how do we convince our C-Suite and Board that we also need to focus on adjacent and far away growth opportunities? Especially when financial results have been extremely good!
We need different portfolios of initiatives: one to manage our core, and another one for exploration and adjacent opportunities.
- Visual tools, real case examples, and a hands-on approach accelerate learning. Applying the tools to understand the transformation efforts from companies such as Equinor, Tesla, Alphabet, Cisco, VW Group, and Microsoft among others, makes us question what we are doing right now to face our strategic dilemmas.
- Strategy learning and development can be done 100% online, in a fun and interactive way using the right visual tools.
- Being able to link strategy and finance is key to understand how financial markets view and rate our company. We need the right transformation architecture to make it possible, as well as a clear story of our business transformation!
- Having a framework to guide our business transformation, as well as discuss and understand our transformation journey is essential to generate the urgency to change.
- Understanding our current business transformation capabilities can be a great starting point to design our transformation roadmap, and the Transformational Company Index (TCI) can give us this snapshot.
- Having a clear and shared concept of what means strategy or business transformation is a fundamental starting point, otherwise, each one might have different interpretations and expectations.
Having a methodology that challenges us is key to generate significant changes
- We’re not alone, other strategy teams are facing similar dilemmas, and it’s great to be able to exchange points of view with them.
Our first conclusion is that strategy teams need to have a clear internal roadmap to develop their capabilities, in order to balance the different roles they execute, with the aim to become influencers and big system thinkers in their organizations.
Learning and developing your strategy can be done 100% online, in a fun and energizing way, discussing current well-known companies’ dilemmas.
Each company has its own requirements and priorities to develop a roadmap to business transformation. It’s not needed that they try to close the gap, at the same time, on all ten business transformation enablers. In the end, the strategy is about making choices.
Our last conclusion is that teams (formal and informal) that are involved in the development of the company’s business strategy, can accelerate the learning of strategy to create world-class strategy teams.
The world of strategy is changing. Is your team ready for it?