Strategy is sexy stuff. Deep thinking, insightful analytics and creativity required.
When I interviewed MBAs looking to join my former consulting firm, the majority said that what they really wanted to do was strategy consulting. What they meant was, they wanted to the front end of strategy: the competitive and market analysis, the customer segmentation, the C-suite and Board discussion of options and the finalization of a bold recommendation.
While this formed the foundation of the strategy work for our clients, we really prided ourselves on our ability to help clients actually implement and execute their strategies. This emphasis on strategy execution was a tough sell to many of the promising candidates we saw. But those who had been in business and had to actually put plans into action liked what they heard and were perfect fits for our firm.
Like many new MBAs, I started out as a “strategy guy.” My first consulting gig was with a strategy boutique that created powerful insights. We developed elegant strategies for our clients. But a lot of those strategies stayed in the binders we had prepared, and the majority found a permanent and dusty spot on the CEO’s shelf. Because while this boutique was great at the front end of the strategy process, they gave short shrift to what it really took to make bold recommendations a reality.
Getting strategy executed
I’m not that “strategy guy” anymore. I’m a “get the strategy executed” guy.
And the difference is in understanding the following:
Developing great strategies is heady, sexy stuff. But the real test – and where the real value lies - is tackling the heavy lifting of actually put thoughts into action… and making those actions stick.
Image thanks to: Jos Vorst, The Marble Quarry, From the Feldacker Collection, St. Louis Mercantile Library