Strategy Creation, the Real Kind

Strategy Creation: The Problem with consultants (and the Solution)

strategy tips Mar 31, 2023

Regally, the plump Consultant came from the elevator bearing a box, a tote, and another bag, on which his logo proudly glittered.

"Wooly, Winded & Swank Inc," it read.

He organized his stuff, rallied our managers around him, and started with a lecture like any reputable consultant. I counted the words strategic (23x), synergy (12x), and you-must (lost count). Then, one by one, the managers discretely began to inspect their phones.

Gone, the learning opportunity.


The Real Problem

I don't know about you, but when I drop the word "strategic," one of two things happens:

  1. Serious faces nodding that, yes, whatever we are talking about must become strategic or more strategic.
  2. Wrinkled brows shaking no, let's just be concrete and actionable about it.


Which one fits your organization? Or would your team respond differently?

I hope so.

One of my clients in the tech industry put it like this:



"Strategy is just a word for doing something fun earlier than the competition."


I love this reframing of strategy because it lets the entrepreneurial spirit shine through. Suddenly, strategy is about creativity, finding new opportunities, tinkering around with options, and solving puzzles. I have yet to meet a team that won't jump at the chance to solve a puzzle.

The difficulty of strategy isn't the concept of strategy; it's something else. It's about timing and speed.

Timing is about finding the sweet spot between {before disruption happens}, {earlier than your competitors}, and {after the need for your solution has emerged}.

Speed is about knowing how fast your organization can spring into action. Faster organizations can wait longer to learn about emerging disruptions, needs, and competition. Slower organizations should start earlier and take smaller steps (like a series of pilots) to test ideas before making a final decision.

When you frame strategic decision-making as a fun, timing-and-speed puzzle, you have all the ingredients for engaging your team. Strategy is a game you can play well instead of watching Mr. Consultant deliberating about serious, high-brow non-actionable points.

Reframing How-To:

To me, strategic decision-making is all about using different perspectives and frames to unblock the decision flow.

Like: Comparing a worst-case scenario to the best-case to help you pinpoint what you need to change.



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