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Category Archives: Strategy

What’s your financial context?

I recently had two interesting conversations about financial context, and the way leaders think about revenue and opportunity. In the first case, the executive team was presenting a case study about a new service offering. This new business initiative was worth around $2M in revenue – frankly a sum that is dwarfed by their core business, but it has massive potential, and is likely to scale as a significant part of their 5-year strategy.

Reading the conditions

How do you set your future agenda – is it based on personal objectives, or do you research and run tests? How do you go about benchmarking in your specialty or industry? Whichever way you keep score, it’s all about reading the conditions, so you can obtain a view of current state and your desired future and, with these assessments in hand, plan how to get there.

Evolving Beyond Being ‘The Leader’ To Real Leadership

This article, written by Michael Nathanson originally appeared on on July 9, 2021 CEOs practically may be the singular “chief” executive officers of their companies, but that does not mean they must think or act like they are the only leader at the top.

The illusion of certainty

The lifetime customer, the iron-clad supplier, the legislated right to operate – it can all change at the stroke of a pen … or the start of a pandemic. I had an interesting discussion with a prospect recently about starting or waiting. He’s looking to double his significant mid-tier business over the next 3-5 years and he’d also like to significantly increase the profit margin to 20% rather than the current 10%.

Are you playing the game or imposing yourself?

Success in professional sports this year has been not only about survival of the fittest, but survival of those able to adapt to change – just as we have experienced in business. Spring is high season for sports competition here in Australia – including Australian Football League (AFL) finals, interstate rugby play-offs and thoroughbred horse racing carnivals. So you get a good look at who’s best and who makes up the rest.

What are you here to do?

Can you communicate your organisational strategy in one word, or a single phrase? It’s something I advocate strongly during client strategy workshops. The idea is to have a memorable, simple rallying cry, such as IBM’s ‘Think’, Apple’s competitively positioned ‘Think Differently’ or Southwest Airlines ‘Wheels Up’. We all know how focused each of these organisations have been around these tight themes.

Coping in crisis – lessons from wartime

right people, focus and cutting back As we navigate uncertain times, many of us are looking to the past for learnings through times of crisis. In my experience, lessons learned from crisis are generally timeless – and these three particular examples from World War II are an excellent example. No matter what crisis we are dealing with, the way we manage our people and our priorities and making smart decisions is going to make an impact.

Three Key Disciplines To Breakthrough Obstacles

perception, action and will Over the summer break it was useful to make time for some reflection on 2017, and part of that included the #ScaleUp17 conference in St Louis, Missouri. On reviewing my learning from the conference, there were five key speakers whose wisdom I’d like to share with you as we accelerate into 2018. Our biggest obstacle is within – Ryan Holiday, author of The Obstacle is The Way, says that, often, it is ourselves and our own behaviours that form obstacles.

That Critical Piece of Information to Guide Decision-Making

It’s the season for getting bare-rooted trees into the ground, so last weekend I bought a chestnut tree for the farm. I was getting ready to plant it out when I saw on the back of the tag that it grows to 10m high and 10m wide. The spot beside my cattle yards would only accommodate a 5m diameter tree, and I certainly didn’t want a large overhanging branch to drop its spiny chestnut burrs into the yards, damaging the hooves of my cattle.

Obstacle course, sprint or marathon?

I was re-reading Jack Stack’s ‘A Stake in the Outcome’ over the last couple of weeks and a comment he made about the nature of the business race we’re running really jumped out at me. Teams would probably associate their long-term goal, or BHAG as Jim Collins calls it, as a marathon; an event of known length. At the opposite end of the spectrum there’s the encouragement to sprint towards near-term goals, often with a Scrum or Agile approach as recommended by Jeff Sutherland.

What is your saying/doing ratio?

Accountability Works Does the team understand where leaders are steering the ship or is the whole thing misaligned? How strong is the level of organisational trust to follow the course? My clients are held to account each quarter for delivery on their highest priorities. We all acknowledge that ‘everything’ won’t get done, but we do need to be accountable for that handful of things that, as a team, we’re committed to doing.

Do you live by rules or conventions?

I recently spent time in the company of Dr Kaihan Krippendorff, an inspiring strategist I had the privilege to meet through the Gazelles Coaching program. Kaihan is a business strategist, keynote speaker, consultant and best-selling author of four books, most recently Outthink the Competition. A former consultant with McKinsey & Company, he now writes one of the most popular blogs on, ‘Outthinkers’.

Lessons in Business From Futures Traders

“knowing when to hold ‘em, knowing when to fold ‘em” Plenty of organisations have trouble starting things, but in my experience as a coach and advisor, they have even more trouble stopping them. Those who play the commodity futures market understand the fine line between stop and start…“knowing when to hold ‘em, knowing when to fold ‘em” is the crucial difference between soaring success or crippling failure, especially in a game that moves fast.