The three cardinal sins of strategy – part 2

Part 2: Running out of time

“John, we got to talk – now!”. Jane’s manager had asked her review some LinkedIn articles from a young strategy consultancy right before their big board meeting delivery and it was immediately clear that they were in trouble.

She had graduated top of her class in one of the best business schools in the world and had proceeded to wow every single partner in the top tier consultancy she joined immediately after. One of the partners, John, had left for a national treasure consumer brand and enticed her with the promise of more direct impact, fewer hours and a fast track leadership career. She had always had an almost sixth sense in recognizing powerful knowledge and the time honed problem solving method, they were deploying had no flaws. No flaws inside the method that is. Her spirit was sinking.

Around the method was a whole other story. That was crystal clear now after reading the articles. They needed much more process thinking – to bring down the time to build strategy, to prepare the leadership for strategic thinking and to start implementation much, much, much earlier. But what to do with only hours to go before the board meeting and John about to come down with a serious case of man flu?

It was clear that it would be career suicide to change everything now. But could they somehow take some of these brand new logics and insert them in their current approach in a suboptimal but not too obvious way? She proposed her idea to John, who looked like he was ready for a drinking bender. The idea cheered him up a bit: “So we start communicating now and only announce instead of actually holding the town hall in a month – that could work without anybody noticing the change. And then do a strategy follow up in 4-5 months, where we also insert some of the new methods and only then adjust the final strategy. You are brilliant, Jane!”. All they had to do now was to get the CEO on board.

“What!” Presenting their challenge and solution to Jack, their CEO, went slightly differently than they had hoped: “Are you saying that we may have the wrong strategy?!?” Jane and John looked at each other. Nobody wanted to answer the uncomfortable and unfortunately also pretty obvious question.

Eventually, Jane took charge: “Look Jack, I am sorry, but every field of expertise is always in a flux. Most of the time there are only minor updates, but once in a while a game changer comes along – and they are rarely convenient. We have three options: We can do nothing, we can do these critical but less obvious adjustments for damage control or we can come clean with a new approach – either way we are running out of time. You know what we are recommending. Which one do you want?”

Learn what Jack decides by reading on next week, read some of the other articles here or contact or +45-23103206, if you cannot wait…

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