Roger Wilson

When to think about business strategy differently

Friday 10th June 2022

“Don’t tinker with your strategy” is an often stated mantra from anyone who is an expert in the
field of the topic. Business strategy is, by its nature, a long-term consideration. Action plans,
tactics, annual business plans, KPIs… are all examples of the more short-term models, processes
and devices for handling month to month activities, driven out of the strategic choices set for the
longer term.

A good strategic initiative will be in itself a major plan, which will have a number of phases to
implement over a period, likely to be measured in years, not months. For example: taking market
share in completely new territory, consolidating multiple sites into one or creating a completely
new product or service line. These take time if to be achieved successfully.

The strategic choices would themselves have been created out of careful assessment of the
current and predicted market, economic projections, assessment of the company’s strengths and
weaknesses, technological developments, social trends etc. Most of the time, these parameters
will have a slow-moving trend which is relatively easy to predict by looking at industry intelligence
and other data. Looking back at historical data can prove whether this is related to interest rates,
take-up of new technology, growth in specific markets, annual build of new homes etc.

But one-off events can potentially widely put a sizeable blip in an attractive smooth line heading
gently up or down the graph. This was the case with the pandemic. Several parameters picked
up a heartbeat-shaped line with a pronounced deep dip and a rapid bounce back to not far off the
same level; consumer spend as an example. Others just took a sharp upward turn, such as online
sales or working from home and then the line stuck there.

It is times like this when the strategy must be fundamentally reviewed, as those strategic choices
which were based upon a set of assumptions driven by the previous data, most likely will not fit
the new position. The pandemic and other major shifts such as disruptive technology for example,
are examples of a need to review strategy. Dependent upon those shifts perhaps, make major
changes or discover only slight changes might be necessary and this decision would be
different for each strategic initiative. But this process is likely to be exacerbated by trying to
predict where the key variables are going next . Take inflation as an example. Also the outcome
of the war in Ukraine. Making strategic choices with a level of uncertainty needs to be considered
very deliberately and carefully. Beware the danger of tinkering!

Roger Wilson will be flying to Malta to deliver an exclusive masterclass on Business Strategy on
the 23rd June at Palazzo Capua in Sliema. For information about the speaker and topic and
registration please visit the following link