Bringing Out Your Inner Strategy Consultant
You are running a group tasked with finding the next big product. Or transforming the supply chain. Or creating new sales channels. Or even revising the corporate brand positioning.
You want to make sure that your recommendations have a high probability of success for your company, but you’ve been given very little time. The team has to complete its study quickly and efficiently without stepping on toes. Where do you start? There are literally endless research paths and a long list of potential analyses that can be applied. And, once the team has completed its great work, how do you persuade senior management to accept your findings?
This is the challenge of every strategy consulting team, multiple times a year. Often a small band of consultants is given an assignment on a topic they know very little about, in a brand new organization, where they know no one. In 3-4 months, they generally know more about the issues than veteran employees and are persuading senior management to follow their advice.
I distinctly remember one engagement years ago where our client had acquired numerous small businesses across the country in the same industry. We were asked to evaluate the acquisitions and recommend a new, consolidated sales organization with best practice processes in 3 months. A few weeks into the project, we presented an interim report. A company employee looked at our binders wide-eyed and said, “You’ve done all that in a month?”
And the answer is, yes, we did…and so can you if you know the right tools to use! To accomplish what seemed to be a huge task in such a short time, we needed to utilize our training:
Tip 1: Focus on the right question with a defined problem statement
Tip 2: Research and analyze the right issues with an issue tree
Tip 3: Identify and interview the right experts using planned interview guides and active listening
Tip 4: Synthesize learnings into a logical story using a Minto Pyramid
Tip 5: Communicate with decision makers effectively using inductive logic and storytelling
And the best part is, all of these tips are associated with tools that every manager can use to become more effective and time-efficient in their internal assignments.
I’ll be discussing three of these tools during UC Davis Graduate School of Management’s executive education program, Strategy Boot Camp: Complex Problem Identification and Communication Skills.