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Strategic Planning

Management’s worries about strategy creation | 1.10

Stradigo

Management worries about strategy creation

Markus Westerlund

Markus Westerlund

Today I will tell you about a great technique, which can help a customer understand that they need help to solve a specific problem. As an example, I use my own field, strategy creation. This blog is not about solutions to the management’s problems, I’m focusing on worries. 

The point is that I use the word worry. I speak about management’s worries about strategy creation. I’ll give examples about focusing on worries and explain how you too can use this technique.  

All leaders come face to face with worries at some point. 

How to create a good strategy?

stick figure, question marks

A CEO understands that a direction needs to be decided. After that, they begin to wonder how it will be handled this time. They might end up with many questions! With the help of my colleagues, we have collected these worries for several years. Now I will show you tens of worries, emphasizing the word worry. 

Difference between worry and need. The customer might have a need, which is the solution to their worry. If my worry is thirst, I need a beer. Beer, in this case, is the solution to thirst. However, if I ask the customer what they need, I’m basically delegating the competence to answer to a person who is not a professional in our field. So, one shouldn’t ask the customer for their needs. Instead, one should listen to their worries and take responsibility for expressing the solution to them. 

The world’s best method in sales is to make the customer’s worries visible to them. Because we have met many customers in the same situation, we can actually articulate the customer’s worries better than themselves. In this situation, the customer understands much better that they indeed should buy from this person, because they won’t be able to find solutions to all their worries alone. 

worries

There are a lot of typical upper-level questions. How can I get my company to grow and succeed better than ever? This question can be broken down into a big bundle of worries. 

What about customers? Think: What questions have your customers asked lately? What do they truly want from you? Take notice, that a customer doesn’t know all the new tricks in the business, so they might ask for the old stuff! This is when you should know how to explain that yes, things can be done like that, but that they might be interested in your newest solution. 

What bugs us in our work? How can we work better with a new strategy? What happens on the market? What are the big trends that influence our customers as well? How many people should one involve in the process? How do I involve everyone? How to challenge one’s own way of thinking? What is the big focus that we should have in the next phase? How to simplify things? Let’s break these down. 

Growth? What bugs us? Trends?

How to grow? How to understand what to invest in? How to grow, what are our assumptions about the future? 

What’s bugging us? What isn’t truly working? How to fix it? Where is all of the organization’s time spent on? Why don’t we get more done for the customer? 

Trends? What’s happening on the market? Do we know how to analyze? Which trends influence both us and the customers? What is the competition doing, how do we respond? 

These types of questions may arise. Let’s look at questions about involving people. 

How to involve people on a large scale?

how to involve people on a larger scale?

Involving? How to involve people? Should it be done on a larger scale? If I involve a group to come and join in, are grassroot views at all relevant on a strategic level? How do we avoid the strategy not being diluted when many are included? How do we avoid consensus thinking and a blunt spearhead? 

Duration? If I involve many people, does the process take too long? Does it take too much time? – No, when you use technology! That’s the whole point. 

Expensive? Is it expensive to involve people on a larger scale? – It’s expensive if you don’t involve them! Does the CEO have the right to decide? – In my opinion, yes. The CEO is the one that makes the ultimate decision. Of course, a good leader listens to others. 

Our Purpose for our customers?

Our purpose. The upper-level worry is the purpose for our customers. It is something that should be crystallized in the strategy process. And especially from the customer’s perspective! Not selfishly so, as to how we earn more. If we help the customer really well, they will also pay us more. We produce so much more value to them. It creates a win-win situation, which is a fine thing in every way. 

Why do we exist? What is our vision? Are we only thinking about ourselves and not enough about the customers? Are we only thinking about our own numbers, growth, and sealing the deal? 

What does the customer want? Do we understand what the customer truly wants? Do we understand the reason they are working with us? What the customer wants can be a completely different thing compared to what they truly need. Maybe they aren’t even able to express it themselves. 

Meaningfulness? What is the core reason why people work here? What excites our group? What makes this work meaningful to them? The answer to all of these questions is our purpose. The power of words is incredible. Words are the most powerful weapon, even today. If you can crystallize the Purpose to a few words, it has immense meaning to how you are able to get people to join the process. 

All in a bubble? One should always question, whether we are proceeding on the optimal road? In Stradigo, we have begun using the bubble metaphor, which my colleague Veli-Matti came up with.  

Is the entire management in the same bubble? Do we repeat the same mantras? Are we able to question our actions ourselves? We might have certain mantras that are outdated. Which beliefs about growth are no longer good? 

No one knows anything about the future, every crystal ball has been sold out. We, however, need beliefs about the future, and that is what our strategy is based upon. But, have they ever been written down? Are some of them already outdated? 

Do we dare to challenge? It can be a touchy thing if someone no longer believes in our holy mantras. 

Do we lose face? This, my friend, is a tough spot. In a situation like this, a third party might be of interest, because they can ask these questions without having to play the game of organizations. 

How to challenge in a positive way without annoying people? People might lose their temper if someone begins to challenge their core beliefs. With success, we have believed in them for years. 

How do we work faster? Can we do things ten times faster? Impossible, many say. But is it, if you use new technology? 

How do we create a positive mood after we have challenged and ripped things apart? 

Digital technology? What about digital technology? Are we doing things the old way? Do we even know what’s possible? In B2B sales it’s already possible to speak with thousands every week! Instead of meeting five people every week and making a huge amount of missed calls just to reach a customer, can digital technology enable live speaking to thousands every week? It’s the power of express videos. 

Focus

What to focus on? What should be focused on with enough precision to create growth?

Do we have the guts? Do we have the guts to prioritize? Is focusing actually a distress to us because it narrows the playing field? 

Reacting. How do people react, if we prioritize differently? They might think that it’s the same as killing their “baby” if the company goes in a different direction. “What happens to us in this rampage?” Very often one doesn’t want to annoy and frighten people, and a good decision is left unmade in the lack of courage. 

Concretizing. How to concretize focus to an implementing level? It’s nice to talk about high-cloud stuff, but how could one get long enough legs so that concretizing know-how would exist? Is the new suggestion for a focus even compatible with our culture? Is our culture rejecting it? Do we have the resources and the capability? 

These are questions, which pop up in the management’s head as they begin planning how the strategy is done. 

Simplify

How do we get a simple enough strategy? If the result is a thick bunch of PowerPoint slides, no one will remember them. The strategy won’t implement, it’s totally useless. 

Do folks know how to concretize the strategy? Have we helped? How does the group even remember what the strategy is? 

As I write this, I am on my 95th Strategy 1Pager. We include the focus areas and the big goals, and of course our purpose, the breakthrough goals. The way we proceed towards the sun. The benefit of a one-page strategy is that it can be easily updated. 

Think, can you crystallize your customer’s worries. In the end, they are all questions. However, worry is a great word, because it involves feelings. It’s not just a fact, it’s also true! 😎 Listen to the customers because they tell you their worries in every sentence. 

When every worry within a situation is combined and presented on one page, the strategy is ignited! People notice that they haven’t realized the number of worries they have. They must all be answered with a solution and we are able to do it. Yeah! 

Ignite your strategy!🔥

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Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

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Strategic Planning

Unit strategic key questions | 1.15

Stradigo

Case: What are our business unit’s strategic key questions?

As I write this, I want to share an experience with you. With several companies, I have worked with the question: “What are our business unit’s strategic key questions?”

This question has given me so intense experiences that I simply had to record a video about it, and now this video has been turned into a blog text!

A company has a strategy, and it must be visible in the units. There are business leaders who belong to a school of thought that a company must not have sub-strategies but only one strategy. I belong to this same school of thought. Typically, it’s very common for a company several different strategies; a marketing strategy, a sales strategy, an IT strategy, a staff strategy, etc. The downside is that they can dilute the business-wide upper-level strategy.

company strategy unit's alternative?

It’s a more considerable risk that the other strategies will go all over the place. The workaround is to have one strategy, which is possible by converting the various sub-strategies into focus areas, which then get placed under the primary strategy.  

Let’s look at how these alternatives are created. 

Customers' key strategic questions

Let’s approach this from a customer-oriented perspective as if wearing the customer’s glasses! What are the crucial key strategic questions, which the customers ask you? They are usually something like the following: 

custome's key questions

The definition of work is to solve other people’s problems. Compensation is the reward! Let me show the logic in this. 

Top down + bottom up

The point is to go both top-down and bottom-up. If you would wear your customer’s glasses, what is the Ultimate One Customer Core Question, in which the customer needs your help? This is solved together with the unit key persons. The number one question breaks down into three key strategic questions. 

What is the challenge in which the customer needs us? Crystallize this into three key questions! 

Once you figure these out with your unit, you will get a helicopter view of your process. 

Top down + bottom up

Every answer from each question is divided into two boxes. What is the market’s strategic rationale? WHY is this question important for the customer? The other box will be filled with answers about WHAT your response is to this question. Both boxes will have about 7-10 bullet points. Every question has its own page. 

All three key questions also get their own separate workshop. With efficiency, one workshop is done in less than two hours. With these three short meetings, the whole project is completed in a very short time. During the final meeting, the responses are crystallized into focus areas and the tasks needed to make them happen. 

A helicopter view over the business unit’s work

Can you see the thin blue (indigo) vertical line going through the “Next Quarter Goals” -box in the above image? Everything on its left side is the helicopter view over the process. I began yesterday’s meeting by saying, “Now I’ll be taking you on a refreshing helicopter ride!”  This helicopter ride will give an upper-level perspective to the unit’s work. 

I’ve mentioned my motto, which is: “Head in the clouds, but with really long legs.” 

If one looks at the operation from above, it looks different than from a grassroots level. Grassroots perspective is critical as well; we need it! However, it’s the central part of every work. The question is: If one jumps on a helicopter ride and invests these few hours in it, does it produce different kinds of goals than with a bottom-up method? – OF COURSE, IT DOES! 

Multi-level goals

In general, there are multi-level goals. There are yearly goals – like, closing the books each year (accounting)I have also talked a lot about units and businesses having quarterly goals because yearly goals are too high-level. People tend to implement the quarterly goals much more quickly. 

different level goals, blue arch

This exercise is all about the long blue curve, the strategic responses. Of course, the financing unit in yesterday’s case has implemented this curve for a long time. It is now only made visible! They have implemented strategic responses but haven’t necessarily documented them. When they are documented, everything begins to look different! 

Facilitation — The Golden Grain

Let me share with you one more pride, which is also the gold grain of facilitation. As people sit in a meeting, an online meeting, for example, they all look at the screen. Every key question has been provided its own slide with two boxes filled with bullet points. The first box is filled with reasons WHY the customers want this thing. What is the market suction? The second box is filled with WHAT the company’s response is to the need. 

The gold grain of facilitation is when others speak, you transcribe it into text in front of them. This requires practice; I have practiced for years. It’s quite challenging, but when you get the hang of it, people begin thinking freely. They constantly see the summary of the conversation, and it leads to iteration and a better outcome. 

gold grain of facilitation

This is actually the climax of the strategy consultation. Even if the meeting language is Finnish, everything is written down in the internationally recognized corporate language, English. Crystallizing and simultaneously editing thoughts is a talent. But, when the meeting ends, it’s a wrap! It leads to a better quality of thinking. In an expert job like this, the difference between poor and better performance can be like the difference between one and one thousand. If you dig with a shovel, the difference can be double by that much. 

Example

Here’s a hypothetical for you to think about. Let’s say you want to organize a party and hire a band to entertain the guests. You decide that classical music is the way and a string quartet is what you need. But you also want the band to perform something new… So you need a new composition! The question… Do you order a new composition from Mozart or Mr. Smith? What’s the difference in quality? Of course, Mr. Smith is the one you go with because Mozart is no longer among us! 

The gold grain of facilitation is the fact that the conversation is visible on the screen. Give me a call, and I’ll show you what it’s like in practice! 

Helicopter view

Let’s return once more to the subject of the helicopter view. If the helicopter perspective is in use and a few hours are invested in it, are the goals it produces better and different as if one would only operate on a ground level with one’s hands in the mud? OF COURSE. 

if we use the helicopter view, will it produce better goals?

That’s what happened in yesterday’s process as well. People were delighted. It was refreshing to be on the upper level, not only in the operative everyday life. This is very exciting! 

What was the feedback?

Here are a few comments from yesterday’s meeting: 

what did people have to say? comments in finnish and english

“Todella tehokas tapa koostaa ja käsitellä melko suuria kokonaisuuksia.” – A very efficient way to compose and deal with the big picture    

“Great linkage through iterative structured way of working together.”  

“Kirkasti tavoitteita hyvin, tykkäsin prosessista. Saatiin hyviä ylätason tavoitteita, joihin hyvä linkittää alempien tasojen actioneita.”  – Clarified the goals well, I liked the process. We got good upper-level goals and good actions to link underneath them. 

Hyvää keskustelua josta päästiin myös ihan konkreettiseen alemman tason tekemiseen kiinni” – A good conversation from where we got down to lower-level activities. 

“Erittäin hyvää keskustelua, jonka Markus tiivisti tehokkaasti. Konkreettisten toimenpiteiden osalta painottaisin vielä perusprosessien kehittämistä. Siinä riittää paljon työtä.” – Very good conversation, which Markus crystallized efficiently. Regarding the concrete actions, I would emphasize the development of basic processes more. There’s a lot of work to do in just that.” 

“Hyvä fokus asioihin ja tarpeisiin.” – A good focus on matters and needs” 

“Great discussion followed by conclusions. We need to keep this alive and updated.”  

I always tell the management team members that I’m so tired of the comment “Good conversation”. Conversing is important, but the outcome is very important and it’s often absent from the conversation. 

Final Check

Once you have the strategic responses to the customers’ questions and the market situation, it’s time for the final check. 

final check, sector

The point is to check that you are inside the boundaries set by the company’s strategy, within the lines of the sector. The blue arrow is the strategic response! 

Ignite your strategy by answering crucial strategic key questions! 🔥 

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Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategic Planning

The stumbling block of Consensus | 1.06

Stradigo

The stumbling block of consensus

Today I thought I would address an issue I have come across in my work. I’m talking about consensus in strategy. Consensus is a really great thing; we know it’s good. However, it also has its downsides.

consensus – a double edged sword

Consensus is like a double-edged sword. The good thing about it is that many are involved. When everyone has been heard, it gives a better kickstart to the implementation. However, in many cases this is a really slow process. People discuss and discuss and only at the very end they come to a conclusion. Sweden has learned the art of discussing, but they know how to keep the decision sharp. Otherwise, everything is watered down, and this is one of the downsides of consensus. 

I ran into a comment like this: “Can an individual comment be a crucial factor, shouldn’t one think about the big picture?”  

I believe that a single comment can make all the difference. Let’s look at the story about the emperor’s new clothes: Only one child was brave enough to say that the emperor was naked. When we listen to a group of people, one person’s opinion can be crucial, even if others disagreed. Listen to the individual! 

Case: Brain-organization

case: brain organization

I have a case from a so-called “brain organization.” It’s full of brilliant people. The organization has developed a problem: Decisions aren’t made, and everything is taking too long. I’ve tried to figure out what the situation is. It can be that the organization’s expectations are so high that everyone’s comments have to be very intelligent. If you don’t have anything smart to say, better not say anything. 

If a comment has to be worth a Nobel prize, no one will dare to say a word! This creates a slow process if one always needs to make sure one’s perspective is worthy. If the organization’s culture expects that no stone is left unturned, it leads to long meetings. Progress is very slow. Decisions aren’t made, and this is a problem in many places. 

Value: Courage

Value: courage

The organization I just described will happily name courage as their value. Values are interesting because they often describe precisely what the organization is lacking. They wouldn’t be out in the open declaring their values for no reason. So, there is not enough courage. If courage is emphasized as your value, you are afraid of something.   

What is an organization afraid of? Is the boss feared? Do they punish for mistakes? Are differing comments feared because one might be ridiculed if the thought is not intelligent enough? 

how to get rid of excess consensus?

How to get rid of excess consensus in the strategy? Enough is enough! Make that a value! Every stone doesn’t need to be turned. The main thing is that one proceeds, things can be fixed on the go if needed. 

enough is enough!

When people’s points of view have been heard enough, the CEO says that they have enough information to make a decision. The CEO’s job is to make the decision. They make it for various reasons. If they didn’t choose your point of view, there’s also a reason for that. The CEO might also say that there is another reason for the decision, but they can’t tell you yet. It’s time to proceed! 

Details are hard to see from a helicopter perspective. From a ground perspective, all you see are details and not the whole picture. It would help if you had both perspectives. A decision needs to be changed if needed. Consensus is often not an agile idea. It’s hard to change. 

The power of agility

the power of agility

People need to join the strategy journey to carry out the purpose. It’s good to create a consensus in the strategy, but it can’t water down the decisions. A good leader has the guts to make a decision even if others don’t agree. The management has heard everyone’s opinions, and then a decision gets made.  

Ignite your strategy without excess consensus! 🔥 

Finding Us On Social Media

Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategic Planning

Administration report: Horizons | 1.14

Stradigo

Administration report: Horizons – Helicopter view 🚁

The CEO of a company often needs to give presentations to the board. How does the CEO explain the big policies? It is a good idea to talk about horizons. Horizons are something that can be discussed with the board, management group and the whole staff. It’s a helicopter view into the business.

Business horizons

business horizons

The principal idea is very simple: We look at what kind of jumps we make in our business. We call them horizons. Then we’re able to see the current situation and the past situation. The future is foggy, but it’s possible to set clear goals into the future. The future can also be created. Goals can be bundled into horizons. 

The thing that makes this truly interesting, is that we rarely rise to a helicopter level in our everyday lives. We don’t see the big waves, instead we see clutter. When the horizons are crystallized, you see the thing that can help to make better decisions.  

business horizons checklist

First, the work begins by looking back. The result is a PowerPoint slide, in which the business horizons and big goals are listed. Last year’s horizon with its 10 most important points are included. Five points might suffice, but oftentimes the list becomes too long. Choose only the most important points.

business horizons, three leaps

The next step is to list all the things the company wishes to achieve during this year. Perhaps some plans for the upcoming year can also be written down. Suddenly you have a map about all the big business jumps.  

This is your horizon! All the big choices and goals are listed. It’s pretty easy to write a long list, however, it takes some effort to compress the core issues to a tighter package. 

Yearly themes

yearly themes

The next step is to give a theme for each year, and the theme is written on top of the curve. After a few years, the fruits of the labor becomes visible. 

8 year journey

8 year journey

I have a great case that demonstrated this in practice. The case comes from a billion-dollar company, in which we have made jumps for eight years. The last time we made the eighth year leap, we started to feel that there are too many of them, that they don’t even fit into the picture. If a CEO shows a messy slide to the board, what would you think as a board member? You might think that this CEO has been in their position for a bit too long. Should the CEO be replaced? The CEO can be absolutely brilliant in their job, yet a thought like this can emerge nevertheless. 

Two-year business horizons

two-year horizons

This created a clear image. 

Strategy journey

strategy journey themes

Take a guess what our management team’s reaction was when this image was presented to them. This image helped everyone to understand the company’s situation. In fact, the image showed great logic, a great journey, a strategy journey.  

Sometimes I joke that the best strategies are written afterwards. When you look back, the journey seems like a straight line, even though it certainly didn’t feel like it. The management group felt that our company’s thing is actually pretty cool! 

In Finland, we have a tendency to compare ourselves with Sweden. In Sweden, people use superlatives constantly. The best superlative we, in Finland, can stereotypically think of is “Not too bad”. We should know how to hype our strategy journeys because they are truly great! 

strategy journey themes, helicopter view

Helicopter view

With a horizontal image the management group, the board and the staff get a helicopter view into the whole operation. It helps to visualize the ambition that is needed during the next jump. When people are presented with a crystallized form of reality, anyone is able to understand the thing.  

I have many times mentioned the five-day war of Kuwait and general Schwarzkopf’s story about the satellite perspective. If you’re down on ground level at the sand dunes and encounter the enemy, you’re able to make good decisions. However, if you rise to the satellite level, “then you know what to do” to a much better degree. This is the same thing with the horizontal image. 

strategy journey, four themes

When the presentation has been shown to the board and they have given feedback on it, it is, of course, shown to the staff as well. The outcome is clear. Pride, excitement and sensibleness are the outcomes the organization gets to enjoy. 

strategy journey, yearly themes, sun

Strategy journey becomes reality

Everyone suddenly remembers what has been done. New employees understand the kind of company they’re working at and they see the reason in making the journey that is defined in the strategy. The word spreads between friends and the employer’s brand improves. 

This is how the strategy journey becomes reality! It doesn’t only remain as a plan, but it actually translates into lived experience.  

Build your business horizons and ignite your strategy! 🔥 

Finding Us On Social Media

Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategic Planning

Vision is useless! | 1.05

Stradigo

Vision is useless! – Wait what?!
Replace it with The Purpose

In this blog we will up the ante. I claim that it is useless to have a vision. Yes, you read that correctly. A vision is useless, at least in the form I’ve seen in many companies. Let me explain how this situation can be improved. Come along for the ride. Let the journey begin!

Vision is difficult to define

vision is difficult to define

First of all, it’s really hard to define the word vision. Many start sweating while trying to find a crystal ball that can predict the future. But all crystal balls are sold out and they’re no longer manufactured. At the same time, there’s pressure to have a vision. Then people start to figure out what it is. 

vision doesn't direct

When the vision has been defined, it very often doesn’t give a direction to anything. It’s easily just a fine word. 

status as a vision

 Here’s what happens in almost 95% of all companies: Everyone wants to be number one. The best and the most wanted, that’s their vision. When I ask them “Isn’t being number one a status?”  They answer: “Yes.” 

Customers grant you your position

who? customers

My next question is: “Who gives you this status?”. Easy answer: THE CUSTOMERS! 

what do you do? oops

Follow-up question: “What is it exactly that you do to deserve such an honor?” …And then comes the “OOPS!” They don’t know. 

Something is wrong with this idea! Can it be fixed? What is the catch behind the whole thing? 

empty sentence, break the bubble

The problem is that sentences are empty, and the bubble is easy to puncture. I have a feeling that many companies define the number one -status because that’s how they can easily get rid of the situation. Being number one is important for the stock owners because they know that the marketing director earns the most. That’s why it’s inspiring for them. However, it doesn’t direct or lead the operation, it’s an empty sentence! 

Let’s puncture the bubble and see what can be done.

Why is a vision sentence needed?

why is a vision sentence needed?

What is the basic idea behind this? Why is a vision sentence needed? 

The first reason is very important for business: To create meaning both to us and the customers. 

It should also give direction, but if the direction is to be number one, what direction is it giving us? How does one become number one? What do we need? Direction is very important, which I agree with.  

The vision must help to create a responsible business. A very desirable state. 

The vision should also increase people’s energy levels and excitement. People should feel it’s great to work in this company because they are fulfilling their purpose. Perhaps the most famous vision sentence is by J.F. Kennedy: 

“I want to have a man on the moon before the end of the sixties” 

The excitement! It was a vision, but at the same time, one could say it was a purpose. I return to this subject because I would like to replace vision with purpose. NASA got a boost of energy – it was a meaningful mission! Except after when twenty people had been sent to the moon, the project was discontinued. However, having a human walk on another celestial body was terrific! 

A deeper meaning

a deeper meaning

Somehow having this deeper meaning is a fine thing. At Stradigo, we have for a long time used the sun as a metaphor for this. If the sun shines on us and our customers, it has meaning. And if we’re not excited about this meaning, we won’t know how to spread it to our customers either. That’s why we do things in this order: We come first, then the customers. 

The image above has sectors. How does the sun appear to the customers and our staff? How does the sun shine on sales and production, and so on? The sectors are gradually filled with many important things, and together they form the sun concept also known as the meaning sector. That’s why I think a deeper meaning is a crucial tool for differentiation. Many gold grains create a large, differentiating chunk of gold. 

The Purpose

purpose equals mission + vision

The words mission and vision have meanings that are so close to each other that people easily confuse them together and get the meanings mixed up. People don’t know for sure what a company’s mission and vision are. They might remember one of the answers, but when the topic is discussed they actually aren’t sure if people are talking about the mission or the vision. So, why go through the trouble and possible hassle by using two words with very close meanings? Why not only use one word to describe both? Purpose is a great word because it actually combines what people refer to when they talk about mission and vision. 

The purpose

The purpose is how we help our customers and how we make the world a better place. It isn’t the easiest thing to define. At Stradigo, our customers’ current purposes have improved in every strategy project, because the strategy has been followed up more critically.  

the purpose 3-5 years, sun

The great thing is that the sun is shining upon us already today. We have the meaning and the purpose already today. Three-five years into the future is where our state of vision is. What if it’s the same sun that shines only more brightly? Our purpose might have gotten deeper and stronger. If we have our mission today, and a deeper version of it as our vision, why use two different concepts? Especially when it’s so hard to guess the direction the world is going. Having a purpose makes people excited.  

Our purpose is permanent. It doesn’t change. If it does, then the business has changed. It might happen if competition in the old field has bulked up and no longer produces income. 

Towards a deeper purpose

strategy between suns

Could we start thinking that our purpose already exists today, and strategy is what takes us towards a deeper purpose? This is a source of immense inspiration. That’s why I propose getting rid of the word vision. It’s impossible to know what the future brings, but the purpose might not change for a very long time.

The purpose

Get rid of vision and mission and replace them with a purpose! You can use whatever word you feel like, but aim or target aren’t good options because they are “out there somewhere”. The sun shines today! Significance is ok, but it isn’t active. Purpose is more powerful. 

Let’s make the world a better place with a purpose! And let’s be proud of it! We differentiate from our competitors with how our purpose spreads in the organization. It’s hard to copy! It creates a competitive advantage, a permanent one! Wow! 

Ignite your strategy! 🔥 

Finding Us On Social Media

Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategic Planning

When is it worth updating the strategy? | 1.02

Stradigo

When is it worth updating the strategy? — 1.02

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The company management or the entrepreneur doesn’t necessarily realize that its chosen strategy can cause a bad result. It is also possible that the company is making an ok yearly result. However, if the output is only ok, then it means there is tons of improvement. You want a winning outcome. Not having a winning result is, for practical purposes, an undesirable outcome. Everything depends on your chosen strategy. Let’s talk about updating the strategy. 

I have facilitated strategy processes in over a hundred companies over the years. My experiences have allowed me to identify, together with my colleagues’ various situations when companies choose to update their strategy. We have categorized these situations into three groups. Each group indicates an appropriate time to update the strategy.

When is the time to update the strategy?

Simple drawing of three persons. Headline: When to update the strategy. Force majeure. Lack of focus. No implementation.

 

The first group consists of force majeure situations. Some things must get done because there is no other way. According to the yearly clock, it might also be the right time to do it.

The second group consists of situations in which the company lacks focus. When the company operations are ongoing, the staff start to take on even more activities. Activities expand to the point that there are too many activities. When that happens, the management must bundle everything back together, and the staff needs a reminder of the core of the company’s activities. It is, of course, possible that the heart of the business develops over time, which also ends up affecting the various activities the staff engages in.

The third group includes situations in which the strategy is considered good, but implementation does not occur. Delays happen time and time again for various reasons.

Drawing. Headline: 1. Force Majeure. Bullet point list of situations related to Mergers & Acquisitions, Market Changes, and Finance and routines.

Mergers & Acquisitions

In situations where a company’s ownership changes, a fusion happens, or a company gets bought, the company leadership should create a new strategy.

A new CEO is always the one who will leave no stone unturned. Their job is to renew the company. A new organization is always the essential tool in strategy implementation. In practice, organizing happens intuitively. After that, the strategy gets crystallized with the new members of the staff. The plan is intuitively known, which means organizing happens first and strategy creation after that.

If the company owners wish to sell the company, they tend to desire to maximize its value. The investors ought to receive a presentation of a well-thought-out strategy.

Market changes 

A force majeure situation might also occur if the market changes dramatically. Competition might overtake us and steal our market share. Not good. In other instances, regulations (laws) may vary. If this happens, the company gets forced to think about how to proceed quickly (immediately for all practical purposes).

Finance and routines

The company can make a loss, which means the numbers are negative. If this happens, it means the company is looking at a turnaround case. If nothing gets done, money will eventually run out. Some typical solutions include downsizing and cutting down on expenses, which for many means layovers. Of course, that is not the only way, but it is a typical outcome when companies make a loss.

It’s also possible to be in a situation where the company has too much money in the bank. It needs to be invested in something or handed out to the owners as dividends, for example. Companies don’t have a purpose of being piggy banks. The money is either invested or put into better use somewhere else.

Then there is the very typical “Its spring, and it’s time to think!” -case. I’m very much against this routine-like way of operating, where last year’s slides and images get used all over again. Get a new grip! Forget last year’s presentation slides; come on!

A force majeure situation is clear. Everyone knows to stop and think.

Drawing. Headline: 2. More focus. Bullet point list of situations. Better competitiveness, more growth, and more excitement.

Better competitiveness. 

These are situations in which bloat has taken place and competitiveness has decreased. It would help if you did weeding, which allows the most vigorous and most desirable plants to thrive. Not all plants are equally desirable to have, but they take up valuable resources until we uproot them.

In some instances, there are many goals, and because of that, they have not gotten prioritized. In these situations, strong prioritizing is a good tool. Prioritizing is a central part of strategic planning.

The company’s strategic direction may have been in people’s heads for years. Even so, it is a strategy, and it can be brilliant and very agile. When the company grows, there comes the point where there are so many people, it is impossible to control the direction the company is heading. At this point, you need to write down your strategy.

More growth

More growth is needed when people aren’t satisfied with the situation. The growth isn’t sufficient enough. Why doesn’t the company offering please the customers? Houston, we have a problem.

Perhaps the company delivers too high-quality products and services. Operations work well, but for some reason, the competition, small start-ups, surpass with massive growth while the larger company stays in place. Too high quality can be a reason to update the strategy.

It is also possible that a new option arises. Perhaps it is decided that this new road is the one to follow. You never know what happens tomorrow; therefore, one must have the agility to update the strategy when necessary.

More excitement

Energy is something that might be lacking from the operation. The operation’s primary mission might be unclear, or we are too bureaucratic, and improvement just isn’t happening.

The atmosphere can be such that people no longer believe in the operation. Success is the biggest motivator, but if there is no success, a suspicion might arise that the business isn’t as good as people initially thought. That, of course, is the time to update the strategy.

Headline: 3. Problems with implementation. Bullet point list of situations. A gap in the strategy, slow renewal, customer-oriented approach.

In the third group, the strategy itself is good, but there are problems with the implementation.

The gap in the strategy 

Somehow a gap between the strategy and implementation has formed so that the strategy isn’t concrete.

It might be that the strategy has unrealistic goals, and people give up. It’s a great talent to balance goals on the right level of ambition. If the organization has a clear purpose, it helps boost people’s morale.

Of course, the company may have the wrong people for the situation. The market has changed, and now we need a new and a fresh way of thinking, new beliefs about how the business runs. When water runs through sand, it creates a gorge. The more we have poured “water” through our operation, the more we have started to believe in our victorious concept. And then, we end up losing.

Perhaps something changes; usually, it’s technology. New technology enables a new way of operating. That’s when a gap between the strategy and implementation exists. The strategy can be made as good as possible, but if the implementation gets done the old way, it doesn’t succeed; it doesn’t take flight! We must update our way of thinking.

Slow Renewal

Renewal may not happen sufficiently fast. We should gain an understanding of the future. The current way of selling and marketing is problematic. Digital marketing is not familiar, and people are skeptical. The reason might be about attitudes, the water gorge. People don’t dare to try and climb over the fence.

Most people feel that their comfort zone is safe. I belong to the school of thought, according to which only consistent, agile learning is safe. Still, water is dangerous! Interestingly, people think they’re safe in their comfort zone. They’re only lying to themselves; it’s the exact opposite. Few things are as dangerous as staying put. Opinions strengthen over time. People being to believe their bullshit. 

Customer-oriented approach

Implementation might be a problem because the customer-oriented approach isn’t in order. We all agree to be customer-oriented, but we don’t think about the customers during meetings; instead, we think about internal issues. Therefore, a customer-oriented approach is not in the culture. Even if it were on paper, it’s not enough.

One must be able to offer the customers something new. The new thing must be something the pioneers would accept. If you ask conservative customers what they want and begin implementing their wishes, you might as well stick your feet in cement shoes. One should ask the pioneering customers. If they think this new thing is good, the rest of the gang will follow later.

However, one doesn’t need to be dumb and sell something too new. One needs to have something for the more conservative, something that has already gotten proven to a certain extent. Some may say that customers are traditional. That’s why the most conservative part of a company is sales because it converses with conservative customers. It doesn’t have to be like that! We’ve seen it many times.

It can be that the digital aspect is lacking. It is pretty challenging. I have studied it for ten years and invested a lot of money in trying to understand it. I’m very intrigued by what digital technology has to offer us.

When to update the strategy? Force majeure, focus, implementation. Three drawings of people.

Let’s wrap things up: When is the time to update the strategy?

When in a hurry and a force majeure situation. Such a situation is among the easiest to work from because everyone understands it’s about the strategy.

An update should occur once operations have broken into too many directions. What is the core focus today? That’s worthy of considering.

A strategy is good only if implementation takes place. It doesn’t take a lot for implementation efforts to stop. Is it possible for the strategy to have a bug? Perhaps it’s time to look at the whole execution with new eyes.

Ignite your strategy by updating it at the right moment!🔥

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Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategic Planning

A Successful Strategy is a Journey | 1.01

Stradigo

A Successful Strategy is a Journey — 1.01

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Welcome to the first blog! This blog is part of a series that will center on a concept I call the Strategy Journey and the experiences I have had with it over the years. 

Strategic planning

Strategic Planning is a challenging process. First, it is pretty hard to understand the strategy and how it helps the company grow and be profitable. Plus, it is not enough to have a strategic plan; you also need to implement it. Strategy implementation can be even more challenging than strategic planning. Without successful execution, strategic planning will not bring about practical benefits.

Strategy framework that describes the Stradigo strategy process. The process includes three phases; 1. Direct, 2. Prioritize, 3. Act.

The above model is new, and we have titled it the Strategy Journey. We developed the model because some perceive strategy as a word that is hard to understand, almost like rocket science, or very abstract.

We think that is not the case. Once the company has written a strategic plan, the strategy is simple to understand. The terminology (strategy) causes problems for some people. It can be hard to understand. We have tried to replace it with some other word that is easier to understand. Strategy is an established word.

So, what is a strategy? The shortest and most straightforward explanation we have is this:

Strategy is HOW

How do you launch yourself into the future? What is the Strategy Journey?

Strategy is a journey

Strategy is a journey. And one must keep upgrading it regularly. I had an epiphany while attending a conference in Nashville, Tennessee. He woke up at four in the morning because of jetlag and got to work. He made a realization. Strategy updates do not need to take place once a year in the form of an annual cycle. Instead, we can visualize everything as a Strategy Journey that consists of three parallel streams. Each stream is like a loop that revolves at a different speed compared to the other two.

We call the first loop Direct (We Direct), which is also known as strategic planning. During this loop, the business directs its operations towards the desired future. We use “we” because people in the business work together with the help of technology. Technology allows companies to do strategic planning efficiently, even when involving many people.

The three loops of the strategy process

The first loop needs to revolve in every business, and if the strategy is only updated once a year, then the speed is often too slow. Most firms need to do a review far more frequently. Quarterly reviews may be much more suitable for many companies. Once done with the planning, the company continues to phase two, Prioritize (We Prioritize). Big goals need to be adjusted. The organization must ramp up the implementation efforts. In this case, ramp-up means systematic follow-up of the implementation. The organization adapts its priorities, activities and follows-up performance weekly.

The daily activity takes place inside the third loop, Act (We Act). Once you have your new strategic plan, you quickly get stuck in this phase. When this happens, companies forget about the strategic plan. It falls into the background. Everyone goes with the flow weekly and daily. Going with the flow can work for a time, but often people drop to the floor when they lose touch with the core idea behind the strategy.

All three loops need to be linked together

The point of the Strategy Journey is that all three loops are linked together. Goals come out of the first loop and are compressed and concretized in the second loop. A big mistake you can make is not to keep them linked. Once your strategic plan becomes a PowerPoint presentation, a gap typically forms between your strategy and implementation.

For a long time, we have used the sun as our symbol to describe the Purpose of a client. It is the big benefit the customers receive that, in a sense, is the reason for the company’s existence. The company is not just earning money for business owners. Of course, making money is essential; otherwise, a business owner wouldn’t risk his capital in a risky business. But, if the idea is that we are helping clients, they are pleased and pay compensation for the work, of course. The more we help our clients, the more they are ready to pay compensation for the help they get.

The sun shines upon the whole system and is already in existence today. The Purpose is not some futuristic vision somewhere. It shines both today and tomorrow. In the future, it shines even more profoundly and vibrantly because the business has improved itself.

Phase 1. Direct of Stradigo’s strategy process framework. Quarterly rotation. Invite all, challenge, make selections, and crystallize.

The Direct phase in a nutshell

We intend to go through all phases one by one. Let us start from We Direct. It is a traditional strategic planning process. Let us say the process runs and is ongoing, usually during spring. Everybody is ecstatic at the end of the process! The company management is pleased that they have finally completed a complicated thing, so they hold a briefing for the entire staff.

The Staff Briefing

The CEO of the company explains everything in an hour-long session. When he has finished and showed multiple slides on PowerPoint, it is time for questions. There is always one hand that rises, and the person poses the same question:

“What does this mean in practice?”

Then the CEO should be able to explain what the upper-level idea behind the strategic plan is in practice. Well, he has an answer. Still, most staff are present, and they ask what this all means for their work. It is not the CEO’s job to know. Sometimes I say that the correct answer to that question (which the CEO technically should give but usually does not dare to say…) is:

“Listen, friend, the reason I have hired you is to figure out what this means for your work. I cannot do your work for you! I am trying to figure out my work. Take care of your part.”

… But that is not how it goes. The CEO has to say something concrete.

‘We direct’ means that we decide a sector based on what the sun directs us to do. We sail within the sector every week and month and figure out the best course for today.

Some points why to involve everyone in the strategy process

We have listed four points that have developed through my experiences  in this field.

The first point is that you get a significant effect on this process if you invite everybody to participate in the strategy journey from the very beginning. In the old world, this is a radical thing to suggest. In that world, the managers decide the strategy. Inviting others does not happen.

The given reasons are:

A.) They do not understand

B.) It is too expensive to include everybody

Both reasons are myths. They are busted.

A.) They understand the high-level idea

B.) It’s no longer expensive to include everybody in the process and to hold a large online meeting. All thanks to technology!

How the workshops look like in practice

My record is 157 people in a single workshop. With Zoom, I could divide people into 50 breakout rooms. Then we ask them to give written feedback. With good facilitation, this is truly a quick process. The whole process took only three weeks. Everyone participated, and the CEO of the company was astounded at the efficiency. Usually, in larger organizations, it can take up to six weeks. The speed of the process is not defined by a third-party facilitator but by their schedules. Their calendars define how much time they can afford to put into operative work.

A workshop once a week is ok, but no more workshops that last a full day or even two full days. Instead, have a three-hour workshop with the whole group: One-hour kickoff and two hours of hard work.

Invite everyone to take part in the strategy process to save money

Invite everyone because it is not as expensive as persuading everyone to commit to a strategy created inside a board room in isolation. The attempt is unlikely to succeed, and failure means wasted time, which translates to lost money. When people have been participating in strategic planning from the beginning, they understand it. And then an interesting phenomenon happens. These people are beginning to experience that it is their strategy.

”We weren’t taking part in the CEO’s process; we did this genuinely together, and we own this result!”

On an emotional level, it’s pretty terrific! Young people are so excited that they get to witness the creation of the strategy, and they learn how to direct, prioritize and act it out!

Challenging beliefs and myths

During the process, one must be able to challenge one’s beliefs and myths. The new CEO is often good at it because they see everything with a fresh eye and begin questioning things. An experienced third-party facilitator can be valuable because they are not in the circle playing the political game of resources and work positions. They can ask simple, but killer questions and can share their knowledge and experience with other organizations.

As I write this, I’m in my 91st strategy process facilitation. Every process teaches you something! If you’re doing this for the first or third time, I can say that they are small things. How does one make a group think and pull out the information from their heads? Usually, extroverts steal airtime. But even though an introvert won’t fight for their turn to speak and doesn’t necessarily enjoy performing, they might have written down the best idea in the crowd. We must be able to step outside the box. Good questions bring a lot of value, and they can profoundly affect the outcome of the entire strategy process. The company must, of course, analyze the outside world and see where the trends lie. From there, we pick and choose and make big decisions. Once we have made all these decisions at the very end, they are all compressed into a one-page strategy (essential).

Prioritize

Phase 2. Prioritize of Stradigo’s strategy process framework. Weekly. Next (sub-)goals, prioritization, resourcing, follow-up.

Now we go into the second phase of the strategy process, Prioritize. The strategy is ready as a one-page strategy, the Strategy 1Pager. During creation, tough decisions have likely occurred, and focus areas have crystallized. Now the focus areas need to be specified into sub-goals and be prioritized. Who is responsible for what? Another decision relates to presentation. Should the strategy be written on a slide or documented on a digital board? Slides are static, while everyone can easily access digital boards. If the plan is on a digital board, the business strategy becomes a living document. 

Act

Act daily

Next, we look at everyday work, which is loop 3. Rotation takes place inside every business. The question is, do we work in an old manner? There has been a good way of doing things. Have we benefited from technology and understood that there would be a much more efficient way to do it.

Customer journey means we analyze our customer’s value-creating process and their way of providing value to their customers. Do we understand their way of working, the process, and do we know the situations they encounter? Situations where they realize they need help from a third-party. People have concerns, no matter the situation. We know what these situations are. They need a solution, and a need is always the answer. That’s why I always tell salespeople not to ask a customer what they need.

The need is the answer. Let’s say my concern is that I’m thirsty. What do I need? A beer. Beer is the answer to thirst. But if I, or you, ask a customer about their need, I delegate the solution responsibility to an amateur because I’m a professional in my field. The customer might answer, but their know-how restricts their ability to respond. They don’t know what the newest things are. It’s your responsibility to say,

“Sure, I can help you with this, but there is a new solution to this. Would you like to hear more about it?” – Yes, they do.

The Big Picture - The Full Strategy Process

Strategy framework that describes the Stradigo strategy process. The process includes three phases; 1. Direct, 2. Prioritize, 3. Act.

When we look at the big picture, we see that three loops need to revolve, and they need to connect. Introducing technology takes matters to the next level.

Currently, I’m working with a billion-dollar company, and they’re not very far in utilizing digital technology as a group. They, of course, use digital technology in their work but mostly individually. Conversations and developments take place under a digital infrastructure. That’s when you have group power. And in most cases, this entirely free if you know how to use the tools and methods! They are very affordable.

When you invite everyone to participate in the first loop, it affects people’s attitudes, and they start implementation right away. Very cool! How do you begin to lead your business in a new way at a management level and the next level, and the next level so that everyone understands the big picture?

Automatic Reporting

One point is also the fact that people complain about the lack of communication. Why don’t people let others know what they’re doing? Why is information moving poorly? I have an easy explanation for that. First of all, when I do something, I should report my doings. I don’t have the time to explain everything that’s happening because it would take as much time, and I wouldn’t progress with my work since I have to report constantly.  

If you have an infrastructure that automatically reports to you and you write everything onto a digital board, the decisions are visible for everyone who wants to look. You can even activate notifications. It’s fantastic. If we lack infrastructure, the information won’t communicate to other people in the organization as effectively.

All the loops of the strategy process need to revolve at their speed and link to one another. The first loop very easily gets detached from the others after a month or so has passed. When the first loop detaches, the second and third loops collapse, and we don’t get sufficiently high-quality ideas that the business needs.

Finding Us On Social Media

Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategic Planning

Assumptions of the Strategy | 1.13

Stradigo

Assumptions of the Strategy

Today, I’m talking about the assumptions of the strategy. But first, let me begin with a wise quote:

This is a quote from futurologist Kjell A. Nordström, and a fantastic one at that! It means that everything we think about the future is merely assumptions and guesses. A mastermind, who accurately predicts tomorrow’s events, simply doesn’t exist. Probabilities can be calculated, but they are all guesses. I’m beginning to think that this is a very wise quote. 

assumptions about the future

To go forward, we must live at the mercy of assumptions. We make good predictions about the future, but they are nothing more than beliefs. Very interesting.

what distinguishes a good strategy and a bad strategy?

No-one knows which way the world is going, but others are capable of making assumptions about the direction. The quality of assumptions strongly influences the quality of the strategy.

Strategy is built on top of our current assumptions

Strategy is a journey from point A to point B, and it is built on top of our current assumptions. The point is that no one actually knows what point B is. It will become clear later down the road! If you try to define point B, you might not end up there, because a better waypoint was discovered along the way.

In fact, we are proceeding within a specific sector. A sector is my best metaphor for the strategy. The borders of the sector are defined by the strategy, and people are given the task to find the best direction within the sector. However, at the beginning of the journey the situation often looks like this:

We are in point A, and we define our sector in which we wish to travel. However, we don’t know what point B will be. Point B represents the target we intend to reach. While we travel inside the sector, we constantly encounter various challenges. The people, that work with us inside the business, are tasked with finding the best path forward, while staying inside the sector at the same time. It is a bit like navigating a boat. You constantly sense and respond to changes and find the best course while on the sea. Because of this the staff will be able to reach point B in due course.

Agile strategy

I believe that thinking about the future in this manner lays the groundwork for an agile strategy. I believe agile strategies are more competitive than a carefully planned linear strategy. Linear strategies have an issue. Even if the organization spends a huge amount of time to plan out everything meticulously, including the end point, the strategic plan will end up becoming outdated very quickly as the world moves along. It can even be outdated tomorrow.

So, why invest so much time and money into something that easily becomes outdated? Doesn’t feel like a terribly smart idea, which is why we can circumvent these issues by creating an agile strategy instead. The most dangerous thing an organization could do with a linear plan is that it starts to believe in the plan. If belief is strong, then the organization runs the risk of losing its sensitivity to changes. People may see what is going on, but it is too difficult to adapt because the established plan takes precedence. In a sense, death by bureaucracy.

Assumptions define the quality of strategy

good assumption, good strategy

It’s a good idea to clarify the assumption, and also to challenge them. If we have a good assumption, it creates a good strategy.

bad assumption, bad strategy

If we have a bad assumption, it creates a bad strategy. It’s quite simple in the end. The challenge is that assumptions are often invisible, just hanging in the air.

Every community and company has assumptions, but they haven’t been made visible. That’s why we aren’t necessarily aware of what the strategy is being built upon.

Challenge

These assumptions can be about the market, customers, products, etc. I believe that assumptions should be visualized and vigorously challenged. Outdated assumptions are not a good foundation to build on.
I have challenged assumptions for many years through my career. I can say from experience that three of the ten most important assumptions within the organization about the market may be outdated. Before they were competitive, but now something has changed. Assumptions no longer create a competitive advantage for the organization, on the contrary, they have become a burden and they are in fact slowing it down. If business continues as usual, with the actions built on top of these outdated assumptions, the organization loses out!
Technology often enables change to take place and it challenges old beliefs. One must constantly be able to spot when the game changes. That’s why it’s good to find out how technology is able to help you, and to realize which assumptions are outdated and which ones are valid.

Challenge the mantras!

challenge the mantras!!

Challenge your mantras! Whether we’re talking about a company or a community, mantras begin to form in practice. We begin to repeat the key beliefs of success. Slowly it becomes dangerous because we begin to believe them ever stronger. “You start to believe your own bullshit”, as someone brilliantly said.

It is often smart to bring in an experienced third party, because they are able to challenge with fresh input and questions. A third party also isn’t part of the inner political game, which always exists in a company.

The appropriate way of challenging could be crucially important if you wish to create a good strategy journey into the future.

Good assumptions lead to a good strategy, and a good strategy is very exciting! It’s great to be involved in executing the purpose, the sun. It’s great to be a part of the winning game. Success is a great motivator.

Ignite your strategy!🔥

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Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategic Planning

The Company Purpose | 1.12

Stradigo

The Company Purpose

Today I will talk about something really powerful, which will allow your company to take off.  I’m talking about the purpose of the company.

why does a company exist?

First, let me ask you a question. Why does a company exist? What is the point of it? The answer, which you give spontaneously, centers on the core of your culture. There are many ways to answer this question. In my opinion, however, one answer can be better than the other.

Why do customers buy from us?

Let me rephrase the question. Why do customers buy from us? Is the answer to this question the reason why our company exists?

why do people work with us?

Another question. Why do people work with us? Is this the point of our existence or is there a greater idea behind the company?

Why have people invested money in us?

Why have investors invested their money into our business? Is the ultimate reason to earn money for the investors, who have risked their money? Some would say, of course! Others say that it is necessary, because without investments the company would not exist. Correct, people take out their invested capital by selling their ownership, if they think the returns on their investment are not sufficient. Likewise, the investors tend to prefer the company to increase in value over time.

It is also possible to think, that the company exists because all the stakeholders – the owners, the customers and the employees – believe and care deeply about what the company is trying to achieve.

A belief in good!

A belief in good

They can believe, for example, that the business idea can truly make the world into a better place, and create value for themselves, the customers, and the owners at the same time. This way the company also contributes tax revenue for the government, which naturally it likes very much. The government then does with the tax revenue what the bureaucrats and politicians think is necessary. Tax revenue expenditure is a controversial topic, let’s not talk about that beyond this point.

Everything I just mentioned will happen, you only need to make the right strategic choices.

The Purpose

The purpose

We have a purpose! The purpose is above all other things in importance. If customers feel like they receive a lot from us, then we, the staff, enjoy our success. The customer buys more from us, and the owner of the company sees that money is flowing in like water flows into the faucet from the tap. The invested capital is generating returns!

I must add, that the investor can be a young family that has invested all of their extra little money they have, in us. The investor must, of course, receive something in return for the risk they have taken upon themselves. Charity is something else. It’s not rude to give people compensation as thanks, it’s the decent thing to do. They have taken on risk and invested their financial capital in us, who are working towards a worthy cause, and they are helping us by investing their money into our cause. So, let’s be grateful for this investment and pay the investors dividends as thanks when appropriate, and increase the value of our company for everyone’s sake.

Purpose into a context

mission arrow vision

I’ll explain how this can be presented as a concept. Everyone in business has encountered the words vision and mission. Both words are controversial and usually people understand them differently. Sometimes people get the word definitions mixed up. Many use the words without a clear shared understanding. This is why we launched a new way of thinking, by combining mission and vision together into a single word. This is when we started to use the word purpose.

mission vision purpose arrows

I’m talking about the word Purpose. You lead a company with it.

I have shown these two opposite models to twenty customers during a strategy preparation process, and asked, which model they would like to use. The classic mission-vision model, or the simplified purpose concept? Everyone has agreed that The Company Purpose is the winning path forward for them. They have understood that the purpose concept is the winning path to a successful future for their business.

purpose = mission + vision

The above equation, that describes the situation, is absolutely solid in its clarity. Purpose equals mission + vision. Let’s dive into this equation more thoroughly.

The Sun model

purpose

Let me introduce you to the sun model. This metaphor is something I came up with on my own, but the idea itself comes from Cynthia Montgomery, a Harvard Business School professor, who has written the book Strategist. This book mentions something she calls System of Advantage. She uses a steering wheel for visualization, but I realized I can use my own sun symbol, which I have used for years in other situations. This created the Purpose concept. The purpose concept portrays how the company purpose shines onto our daily tasks and how it affects our everyday life.

Our tasks are located between the rays of the sun. The space in between are practically speaking various sectors. Each sector can be labeled as things like customers, products, services, sales, pricing, logistics, finance etc. Everything is there.

Purpose Concept - How our purpose shines on our operation

purpose concept

The company purpose has to be clearly visible inside the different tasks. Implementation can take place on different scales, which means some tasks have come further in adapting The Company Purpose. Some tasks haven’t come as far as the others.

If this is our Purpose now, what is like in the future?

purpose concept

In the future the sunbeams will shine stronger and reach further. Our “vision” is to complete the process in these different tasks inside the sectors. However, if the first sun image is the current situation (which often is referred to as the company mission) and the second picture (visible above) is the “vision”, aren’t we talking about the same thing? The Purpose doesn’t change, it only becomes stronger as the company moves into the future.

Case

Here is a case. I have crystallized this myself, so this isn’t an official slide. It is pretty good nevertheless. Look at the bullet points, and try to recognize what company it is. Start by reading the circle in the center: “Stylish furnishing for the many”. Then proceed to read the text inside the sectors. Customers have small living spaces and appreciate design. Prices match the wallets of many. A restaurant is at the front of the department store. Which company is this?

 – IKEA, of course!

Cynthia Montgomery uses IKEA as a case example. IKEA has, as a business, created an unbeatable concept that has a long-term competitive advantage, a Sustainable Competitive Advantage. Any furniture company is able to copy any of these bullets, which I call gold grains. Any competitor can try to imitate any single golden grain, like the restaurant concept, but will the competitor be able to perfectly imitate every single golden grain that IKEA has? Practically speaking no, that’s impossible.

The whole IKEA concept is deeply embedded inside the company culture, that it’s impossible to imitate effectively.

Also, Ingvar Kamprad created a foundation, which owns IKEA. The fact that IKEA is owned by the foundation prohibits it from being sold to a third-party. IKEA can’t be bought. If you try to copy them, you are many steps behind by the time you think you are done. Meanwhile IKEA has improved its concept and gone further. What a way to create a competitive advantage by building it on golden grains!

Gold grains

Almost all customers I work with have said, that they are lost with the idea of differentiation. What makes us (the customer) different from the others? I answer by using this example of gold grains: If you’re in the forest looking for a lump of gold, you’ll never find it. The Californian gold rush ended ages ago. The big lumps of gold have already been collected. These days it is not a good idea to try to rely on one thing, one golden grain. Instead, put some effort into finding 30 grains of gold. When you combine them together you end up creating something unique. This will create a sustainable competitive advantage for you.

When you have a Purpose, you learn to adapt it to what you are doing and you create a sustainable competitive advantage from several golden grains. Pretty amazing when you think about it.

This means that you can build a whole strategy with The Company Purpose as a guideline. Once you have a clear purpose concept you can effectively choose what will be the most important focus areas in your strategy.

The Company Vision

purpose today, purpose in the future

When I ask Finnish companies what their visions are, I know their answer already in advance. How come? Everyone’s vision is always the same. They want to be No. 1. When I ask them: Isn’t the number 1 spot a position? They answer, yes. Then I ask them a follow-up question. Who gives you this status? They answer, the customers! Then I ask another follow-up question. What is the great thing you do, that allows you to earn the right to be No. 1? After that question the room usually become eerily quiet. The conclusion is that it is not clear what golden grains make up the company purpose.  

challenge of differentation

I encourage you to build this system, because then you are able to overcome the challenge with differentiation. Recently I introduced this idea to a public company, and both the CEO and the board got really excited about the approach.

This is how the whole concept can be represented. This is good, in the sense, that it can be easily communicated both to the staff and to the customers. If we aren’t excited about our company’s Purpose, how on earth is the same purpose going to be exciting for the customer? Customers realistically only become excited about what we do if we ourselves are excited about what we do.

Dear friend, create the sun model for yourself! Ignite your strategy! That is how you achieve sustainable competitive advantage. Your staff will radiate with joy and excitement and the customers are thankful for it. Your customers will give you’re your well-deserved reward, which means deals and money that flows into your business. This is a win-win situation for everybody involved!

Ignite your strategy!🔥

Finding Us On Social Media

Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategic Planning

Case: Strategy together | 1.04

Stradigo

Strategy Case: Creating A Strategy Together — 1.04

Today I will talk about a case that had a few fantastic features. The strategy was done together! I simply must share it with you. The most amazing thing was that a big corporation had the guts to jump into a completely new way of making strategies by involving the whole staff. It most certainly wasn’t in their culture, but they sensed that now was the right time for it. The strategy was done together, and it went very well.

We do the strategy together!

Figure that describes how a strategy is created in a process that takes place over multiple workshops.

The strategy was made authentically together! Even blue-collar workers joined. Over 100 people always attended the meetings, although I must admit that many more were expected to participate. I’ll tell you more about the kickoff and about the feedback we received.

We held three workshops with two divisions. We worked with both in tandem, alternating between both divisions over the workshops. The workshops involved about 30 people, and everything was done digitally online. The trick is to have a common digital board, which magnifies meeting efficiency, and on which everyone can write simultaneously. Every meeting had its own digital board, and that is something that changes the whole process. Steering meetings were held in between the workshops, in which we presented the unfinished strategy to the staff for feedback.

Think how “horrible”! We showed everyone something that is not ready!

In the end the tough choices were brought together, and the staff had a moment to browse through the Strategy 1Pager and leave their fingerprint on it. I call these comments steering signals, and boy were there many!

The dreaming workshop

A cropped screenshot (in Finnish) from a Trello board that was used during the first workshop in the strategy process, centered on dreaming.

After the first kickoff the next step was the dreaming workshop. We jumped into a time machine and travelled five years into the future and landed at home. The participants were asked to visualize everything that they would see, hear, smell, feel and taste five years in the future. The visualizations were written into 12 stories, and they were all so exciting! Every time, people were as astonished as I am about how much information our subconscious contains.

I asked people to give a one-word comment about the kickoff. Those comments were then used to form a word cloud. It’s easy to see what people have thought about it. The bigger the word, the more times it has been commented. Most of the comments are super positive, but you will always find some constructive criticism. The word interesting is, well, interesting because it’s the subtlest way to object. It means you are looking at the situation from a distance and that you haven’t hopped on board quite yet. Those that give exciting feedback are the ones that have already stepped on the boat and are ready to row.

A word cloud (in Finnish) from a kickoff workshop that displays the participant feelings about the experience.

Challenging the way we think

How do we challenge our way of thinking? As we travel into the future during the dreaming phase, an interesting phenomenon happens. It is a bit like playing and people come up with ideas easily, without being weighed about the implementation difficulties.

Figure about how to challenge thinking during a strategy process with 5 exercises. Trends, Dreaming, Brutal Reality, Paranoia & Tough Choices.

Every theme is a workshop by itself. During this case, we went through all four workshops. In brutal reality, we wondered why we are constantly in a rat race and a step behind, even though we have a ton of great ideas and a lot of work is being done.

Development debt will always exist, and one must learn to live with it. It can be hard to dream at times. But, when the workshops are done online, one is already finished after an hour. In our case, every workshop was three hours long, and the staff worked for four hours altogether. The whole thing was done in two and a half days’ time.

Would you invest two days to think about your strategy?

Our workgroup had a few people that found it weird to think about high-quality thoughts. That’s exactly what they are, high-quality. I firmly believe that one must have one’s head in the clouds, while also having very long legs that reach all the way to the ground. If you only think about practical down-to-earth things, you don’t see the big picture, now do you? The helicopter view is an important aspect.

The interesting thing was that fear also reached the management level. People at that level were scared the people below wouldn’t have the capability to think about the future. That tells a lot about the management if they feel they are the only ones capable of thinking about the future. I say if you guide people into the future and ask them to fly, they will think and use their brains to understand the work required.

In the final phase, some had the opinion that certain matters were left undiscussed. They were right in a sense. Before this process began the management group and members of the board sat in two workshops and defined the focus areas, that were important for them. A vast staff survey was used as a base for that discussion.

This survey helped to produce and crystallize the three focus areas, which were then discussed inside the divisions and then written (transformed) into a more practical form. We started to think and prioritize our thoughts during every meeting. This is how we found the grains of gold, which ultimately became the tough choices.

Summarizing everything on a single page

What you see below are a process and a funnel. We asked questions, wrote, and commented on our digital board. One division gave us 4090 comments, out of which 177 comments made the cut. Those were then grouped into breakthrough goals.

Breakthrough goals are bigger than normal goals because you go through (break through) the wall with them. They are all included in the Strategy 1Pager. Once you have thought about these a lot, everything has been evaluated from every relevant angle. The Strategy 1Pager is presented to the management and the board to give their comments on the output.

Figure on how a strategy process refines input over several workshops into a Strategy 1Pager, which paves the way for strategy implementation.

A cultural change

I was just at a board meeting telling them about this work process. I said:

“Before you look at the result and give comments, you should know these people have put their hearts into this work.”

A couple of wrong words can kill the atmosphere. The board listened. I also said if they have any ideas, let’s bring them to the table as well. They gave us three focus areas as a send-off, and that’s what we did.

When the company leadership reported their own strategy, one of them said:

“This is a cultural change in our company. We have never done it like this.”

All this leads to the result that people get on board. Everything changed only because they were given the possibility to think. And why did they have the possibility to think? Because technology exists. With little effort, we got everyone to participate. We didn’t need to travel across the country.

During the first workshop, someone said that if they had traveled to another city and tried to do all of this on their own with sticky notes, it would have been a disaster. It would have taken a week to get the same amount of work done as we did with online workshops. The result, however, would not have been the same because challenging happens through questions.

The talent lies in asking the right questions. It is the job of a professional to pull the information out of people’s heads. Technology enables this.

Result

This was the result. I asked the group for comments about the whole process, what was it like? Again, the answers were collected into a word cloud.

A word cloud (in Finnish) from the end of a strategy process that displays the participant feelings about the experience.

As you can see, there is the word tiresome. That’s exactly what it is if one is not used to doing processes at a fast pace. The pace is fast because the process is so expensive to do. Expenses double if the pace is slower (more time = more expenses).

The word confusing has sometimes come up. People form their perception of the world based on a certain image. Then when something comes up, that doesn’t fit their current perception of the world, things become confusing. This confusion is a good thing because that way new pathways in the brain form. It is, in fact, a very creative state, that allows people to update their perceptions.

Returning to our subject, there was a staff member who said that nothing changes if no one gets angry. That’s true, in the sense that this process had even more potential, because the feedback was so positive (we could have pushed further)!

This morning I held a dreaming workshop in a new organization, where the factory floor staff took part in the workshop through their phones. These people were also amazed at how their imagination was allowed to run freely. Together we thought it was miraculous. I told them:

“Look at everything your subconscious can store!”

When you get the whole group to implement them, it’s fantastic!

I wanted to share this case because this is such an important topic. It’s not enough to just have a good strategy that’s made and agreed upon inside a conference room high up in the ivory tower. The strategy has no value before it is implemented. The implementation requires that everyone is involved in the process and the strategy is ignited together! Strategy together, that’s the 🔑! 

Finding Us On Social Media

Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.