We work with management to install strategy development and decision-making processes that create the space for innovation. At the same time, we ensure that there are safeguards that allow for clear criteria and comprehensive questioning of potential acquisitions and strategic initiatives—so that the corporate fate is decided through robust deliberation rather than momentum.
Our work starts with the recognition that there are many different ways to develop strategy, as captured in numerous books and translated into volumes of frameworks and detailed methodological instructions. Each has its strengths, which depend partly on the industrial, organizational, and competitive context. Both research and experience, however, demonstrate that even the best methodologies are not immune to numerous weaknesses and decision-making traps of the sort described in Billion-Dollar Lessons.
Our approach is not to offer yet another strategy-making methodology. Instead, while we work with clients to assess whether their approach is appropriate for their context, our focus is on increasing the level of constructive deliberation and debate in the natural ways in which the organization tends to operate. Our methods are designed to tease out and harness the knowledge and insight already accessible to the organization. Utilized well, our methods are process safeguards that encourage dialogue and go a long way to raising important questions that need to be considered during strategy development.
Proper strategy-making process design is valuable because the best way to forestall ill-conceived strategies is to agree on robust decision-making processes and criteria for new strategic moves before those strategies are needed. Too often the process of developing the right strategy gets tangled up with mobilizing the organization to face the problem. Or the desire to create consensus to act is confused with the need to immediately adopt a course of action to take. Or alternatives are explored in cursory fashion, often only so far as needed to discredit them, because any ambiguity about the right course of action is viewed as a distraction. All this weakens the exploration and design of the ultimate course of action. The key is to decide on how you’re going to decide before there is something to decide.