What We Can Learn From the Lords of Strategy

At a recent event hosted by the Association of Management Consulting Firms (AMCF) Walter Kiechel, former editor of Fortune magazine and author of The Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World, discussed how strategy’s great gurus influenced the development and implementation of ideas within their organizations and those of their clients.  Here are some points I found interesting:

  1. Data does not equal strategy. Data is available at our finger tips, which makes it powerful to B2B organizations; however the click of a mouse does not automatically equal strategy or give companies a competitive advantage.
  2. Strategy at the speed of light with the life of a firefly.  Kiechel offers that “in the 1980s it was expected that consulting services would yield a strategy in eight months, today that time line has been shortened to six weeks, including deliverables.”  Strategy sets goals and designs actions to achieve those goals – it is not born, nor does it die over night – the best strategies stick to a thread but are open to a constant evolution.
  3. Are directors of strategy necessary? According to Kiechel and his colleagues, if a consulting firm is asking this question, it has missed the boat.  Professional services firms’ today have a more decentralized notion of strategy and so it might not be wise to pin all the responsibility on one person. A central person can be useful to ensure continuity but it is important that ideas are collaborated on and collected across the organizations. Marketing directors, CEOs, heads of PR, directors of thought leadership are all involved in strategy and the sharing and dissemination of ideas across an organization.
  4. Don’t underestimate creativity. There are a lot of left brain thinkers in businesses, thank goodness, but right brained thinkers are just as vital to an organization. And being creative isn’t about playing an instrument or being able to draw – it is a way of thinking and viewing the world.  Darrell Rigby from Bain & Company believes that “the pairing of creative and more business minded people creates longer term ROI in companies.” I agree – some of the best and most innovative brainstorms I have been a part of include both types of thinkers. And innovation is the special sauce in most strategies.

What considerations are most important to you in developing B2B strategy?


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