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Strategy Hero podcast - S1:E4 transcript - 8 steps to a winning strategy

In this episode, James Davies dives into the often-overlooked area of strategy, creation. With converged markets, fragmented supply chains, and a new world of living and working.

James lays out his observations of what businesses and organizations are doing to rethink their strategic priorities. Moving away from focusing on strategy execution, instead, they are looking at the beginning by placing emphasis on strategy creation.

Episode: S1:E4 - Strategy Hero - 8 steps to a winning strategy - James Davies


[James Milsom] Hi, and welcome to the Strategy Hero Podcast, the podcast that's all about diving into the world of business strategy, transformation, and operational excellence, featuring insights and experiences from some of the most successful leaders in the field.

Today, I have a brilliant guest, a mentor, and a friend that I cannot wait to talk to. James Davies. James is a product leader who has held several leadership roles in four venture capital bank software startups, including those roles being CEO, CPD, NED, and the chairman.

Starting his career at KPMG, James has gone on to consult at some of the world's leading tech companies, such as Broadcom, Dell, Oracle Sun, and NTT. Since 2020, he served as the chief product officer at I-Nexus, but today he's our strategy hero. James, welcome. How are you?  


[James Davies] Hi, James. Thanks very much. It's a lot to live up to being decided as a strategy leader, but yeah, it's nice to be here, and I'm happy to share what little I know.  


[James Milsom] Can't wait to yeah, can't wait to hear more about what you're going to talk about today. So without further ado, could you just, you know, talk to us really about your experience in the world of strategic leadership and then sort of give everyone a little bit of a preview of what you want to talk about today.


[James Davies] Yeah, I mean, it's always hard to boil down one's career when one has gray hairs like this, but, you know, kind of half of my career was spent with strategic management consulting, and you rattled off some of the companies that I've been blessed to work with. And, you know, the other half of my career is, is very much working with software companies which is what I do today, you know, I'm at I-Nexus, as you say, as CPO.

So, you know, applying technology to help companies to implement those processes that perhaps have originated out of a management consulting engagement or something that.  


[James Milsom] So when we were coming up with topics for today's episode, there were a couple of different things that we wanted to look at. But what really stood out was, you know, taking a look back at what's happened since 2020. Markets have converged, supply chains fragmented, and now we have the five key generations living and working side by side.

It means that every industry has had to take a long, hard look at how they're creating value for their customers. In today's episode, we're going to be talking all about strategy creation.

So from the top, James, what are you seeing within organizations and I guess at an industry level people that are trying to create strategies, what are the observations that you've noticed talking to our customers, talking to colleagues about how they're approaching the creation of strategy.  


[James Davies] You know, and you say 2020, and that's, you know, when things, ostensibly began to fall apart. And we got into this vicious circle of uncertainty, yielding volatility, yielding uncertainty. And, you know, I think overwhelmingly, you know, what I've seen the last two, three years is the agenda has shifted from how do we best execute our strategy to, you know, what is our strategy?

You know what I'm like, you know, I tend to be contrarian in some senses, and, you know, and I think a lot of companies were caught sleepwalking with Covid. And what Covid has brought to the marketplace in terms of uncertainty has put the agenda onto strategy as well as strategy creation, and having that as a means to be able to deal with that uncertainty.

Which kind of leads onto the next observation, I think, which is not only is the emphasis being placed on strategy creation alongside strategy execution, but those traditional methods that perhaps companies have still been struggling to implement around annual strategic planning is just blown out of the water. I mean, you know, it seems pretty clear now that maybe as soon as five years time, 10 years time, there'll be no concept of annual strategic planning.

It'll all be adaptive or agile, you know, pick your term depending on the literature you read or who you listen to. But that whole notion of, you know, it's not good enough just to plan a year's worth of work and then check at the end of the year whether it's been done and whether it yielded results. Now we live in a world where you review your strategy every quarter, you know, you are planning increments of work, and you're taking an agile approach to delivery.

So those are the two kinda major trends that I see. You know, and I won't say renewed focus on strategy creation, a focus on strategy creation, and you know, looking at things through a software lens, you know, the adoption of tooling to help companies to, you know, take that, put together that strategic plan, and then execute it and track results. So those would be my two kinds of major observations.  


[James Milsom] I think one of the things that stands out to me from what you said there was sort of this vicious cycle that we're in of uncertainty. And I remember reading, I remember reading something from Michelle Koho, who is a Gartner managing vice president. And she said, and this was in regards to project management, but I think that it does apply, you know, as we move upward.

She said, embrace change and uncertainty instead of trying to fit all projects to a rigid production line approach. And I think that really stands out to me when you're talking about the renewed focus isn't so much on strategy creation or even strategy execution, it's more about what is our, what is our strategy?

I think something that we see quite a lot of is that people do lose sight of what their strategy is. And I guess if you're at that top level, you really shouldn't lose sight of what that strategy is. But do you feel like it's common that a strategy is just being set and you know, it's being created in sort of isolation from, you know, operational reality and those people that are setting it aren't actually able to, whether that's because of the tools or having the resource or the capacity to review that strategy on a regular basis.

Do you think that's something that is starting to be recognized as a key challenge to delivering value?  


[James Davies] Yeah, maybe, you know, 20, 30 years ago, the executive team would go off to some wonderful, you know, pick your resort of choice in a lovely location and strategise for two to three days and, you know, write it up and throw it over the wall at the strategic planning team. And, you know, there you go. This is our strategic intent. And, you know, I still think there is an element of that and to what you said, you know, about projects.

I mean, you know, that type of traditional project management approach is always going to be, you know, relevant in certain industries, you know, in other industries where, you know, they're able to take a different approach, then they can take a much more kind of agile approach to, you know, to project delivery, if you'll.  


[James Milsom] When you mention agile approach to project delivery and an agile approach to strategy, what do you consider that to mean? And what are your, how have you come to that conclusion of that's, you know, that is where things should be heading? 


[James Davies] Yeah. I mean, you can chart agile over the last 20, 30 years as moving, you know, beyond software development, you know, into enterprise agile. And so when I talk about agile delivery, really, I'm talking about using the agile methods beyond just, you know, software or product development, you know, into other parts of your organization, you know, so, you know, commonly referred to as enterprise agile.

So that's agile delivery, you know, agile strategy or adaptive strategy really is, you know, it's applying some of those same principles to how you go about delivering, you know, on your strategic objectives. You know, recognizing that those objectives might well change more frequently than on an annual basis.

You know, perhaps quarterly. So every quarter you'd get together and see how do we do on delivering that last body of work, maybe delivered over six sprints, six two-week sprints, something like that. Seeing if anything's changed in the internal-external environment that might cause the strategy to change. And then, you know, plotting out the next quarter's work, and that's what I mean by agile strategy, which is, you know, very different to laying out your stool for the year's worth of work and tracking what might end up being the wrong projects. You know, but not having those decision points in between, you know, which is a nice segue of course to strategy creation and, you know, not just creating a strategy and then forgetting about it. It's, you know, how do you keep your finger on the pulse of executing that strategy?

You know, everybody talks about executing the strategic plan, but at the same time, in parallel, you know, you've got to be surely, you know, monitoring your organization, your markets, your customers, your industries, the competition, you know, to ensure that your strategy is still relevant. And, and if it isn't, then you need to make that change and you need to capture that quicker than 12 months, you know, ideally three months. But then, you know, you bring another thing into play, which is change. You know, it's all very well for us to espouse the need to, you know, potentially change strategic direction every three months. You know, that's easier said than done, right? You know, all tankers taking 18 miles to change direction. You know, the bigger organizations in particular, you know, they're going to struggle.

You know, this transition's not going to be easy for a lot of companies, but it's going to be critical if they're going to survive.  


[James Milsom] Absolutely. And I think back to a conversation that you and I had probably two years ago where we were talking about an agile approach to strategy, and just looking at a departmental level for my marketing organization, making that shift to an agile adaptive approach hasn't been easy. There's a lot more that goes into it.

There's a lot more that you have to, you know, bring fence time to be able to dedicate to reviewing the strategy. And there are times when, yeah, I aim for a quarterly, but it sometimes ends up being a half year, as we all know. 

 When we look at this, holistically, what would you consider, I mean, I know what I would consider, but I'm interested that what you would consider are the common barriers and obstacles to creating a strategy. And then if we could look at sort of the review process after that that would be interesting. 


[James Davies] So, you know, it's a good question, and of course, you know, my day jobs around strategy execution. So this is all really just kind of observations from what I've seen and read. And kind of experiences inside, right? There's nothing better than, you know, trying these practices inside to see what challenges, you know, customers might be faced or clients might be faced when trying to do the same thing.

So, you know, we touched upon, you know, the first two a little bit, you know, complexity and uncertainty. You know, we joke at my age that, you know, when you're young, life is simple. And, you know, in some senses, doing business was simple 20, 30 years ago. And, you know, things are different. Internal organizations are much more complex. Technology is more complex. The customer's more educated, you know, markets are shifting, industries, you know, industry forces are accelerating. I mean, everything is changing and creating complexity. And at the end of the day, you've got to wrestle that complexity to the ground, you know, but that's easier said than done. So I think, you know, complexity is one thing. You know, uncertainty. We talked about that.

You know and we talked about the negative side of it, you know, having to respond to changes in the internal or external environment, but, you know, it could be a positive thing. There could be some innovation that's coming from your R&D organization or a different way of doing things from a supply chain standpoint. And, you know, you want that innovation to bubble up to the surface. And then again, if you've got that quarterly cadence of monitoring your strategy, you can then take a step back and see whether some of these new innovations and new ideas can, you know, deserve to, you know, to move forward, you know, potentially at the expense of something else. So, you know, definitely uncertainty. I mean, it is an uncertain world, and it's uncertain doing business in this uncertain world, and finding a way to manage that uncertainty, I think, is critical.

You know, the next thing is not unique to strategy. It's fragmentation of data. You know, if you've gotta go hunting down data before you even discuss that data in order to see what the information and insight might be from that data, you've just added weeks to your decision process. So, you know, being able to centralize that data and even better than that, you know, keep that data current, and we'll come to that, you know, in a second when we talk about some of the other barriers. But, you know, not having that information so you can't make ready decisions have that data readily accessible and kept current. You know, the next one would be time.

Typically, a strategy cycle can, you know, take 2, 3, 4 months, something like that in cadence with, you know, with a financial calendar. No, it's a lot of time. And I think people are put off by that. You know, we just can't put our day-to-day jobs aside and, you know, put that time however important it might be into developing strategy, you know, so finding the time to do it, finding the time to apply a little bit of rigour to strategy creation, I think is a common barrier. And last but not least, you know, which keeps the consulting firms busy, you know, is know-how, skill and experience. You know, there's a reason why companies farm this out to, you know, to kind of tier one, tier two or boutique consulting firms, you know, with that expertise. They might not have that expertise.

So things that perhaps we all take for granted in terms of models and frameworks and best practices, and when to apply them and how to apply them, and how to interpret the results. You know, unless you've been exposed to that, you don't necessarily have that knowledge or experience. So there you go. There're five to get you going, five barriers to strategy creation, that's what we should call them. 


[James Milsom] Yeah, exactly. I think the last point you made is, for me, one of the most important things, in terms of a barrier, because, you know, you and I are the sort of people that are passionate about what we're talking about here today is strategy. And we've been fortunate enough to been around people that have taught us how to use these frameworks, how to apply, the insights that we gain from using them. But it's not something that is widely done. And it probably is because we, you know, our careers have been around product marketing like that enables us to be able to use those tools regularly. And I think, definitely, definitely that there's something that needs to be done, I believe, about educating and enabling these people, anyone really who's in a business role to be able to use these tools and frameworks themselves. It's only through using them that you can learn and you can really grow and help deliver more value, I believe, to your customers. 


[James Davies] Yeah, I would agree. You know, it's kind of, for me, it's empowerment, you know, kind of making those best practices readily accessible, and usable, you know, with that guidance of how to use them, when to use them and so on. But, you know, that's a barrier. And you know, like the other barriers there, there are ways to overcome that, to smash through those barriers, you know, without necessarily, you know, going to the outside to get that skill and experience. Don't get me wrong, you know, you'll get great skill and experience but there's no substitute for having that skill and experience within the company.  


[James Milsom] In terms of reviewing your strategy, I've read recently from CB Insights that 42% of companies, actually end up shutting down because there was no market need for their products or services. And when I read that, it made me immediately think of what we're going to be talking about today. Because it feels like if your finger's on the pulse, if you are collecting and analysing and applying that information, you know, you would be able to understand that maybe there isn't quite a market product fit, for instance, a new product introduction.

Do you feel like the barriers to reviewing frequently your strategy are one and the same as the creation side, or is there a different angle? Is there a different set of considerations that you would put forward for what might block you or prevent you from effectively reviewing your strategy?  


[James Davies] No, I mean, honestly, I just don't think there are any barriers to it other than time and discipline and, you know, a modicum of common sense. You know, so I think to me, we talked, or I talked earlier about, you know, a world of annual strategic planning morphing into this agile world, you know, that won't happen overnight. And it might be that companies for a period of time will lay out an annual strategy, but then introduce the rigour of reviewing it quarterly.

I mean, that alone is a great step in the right direction, right? That might be followed by laying out, you know, six months' worth of strategy and reviewing it, you know, midway or, you know, companies will find that natural cadence, but I just don't see the barriers, you know, as long as you have a say. The discipline unlike us when we come to our monthly meetings of not sticking to them, you know, having that discipline and having the information at your fingertips, you know, let's take an example, a strategic watch list, right?

Having one list that's maintained at all times of your risks, your assumptions, your threats, your opportunities, things like that. And, you know, taking that into that strategic review, you know, together with, you know, some sort of summary of what's changed, you know, from the people that are closest to those changes.

You know, those two precursors don't require much effort. And then bringing people together, now you're into calendaring and, you know, and just, you know, lay out those quarterly reviews ahead of time. So, you know, you've got a migratory path. But at the end of the day, I, personally, don't think that's difficult to introduce a quarterly strategic review.  


[James Milsom] How important do you think it is to have contributors from multiple levels? Because you mentioned there, you mentioned there about having people who are, who are what, you know, looking at that watch list, and they're gathering and inputting data, and that's being used effectively to review.

Is it crucial that you have someone, for example, who is in a, in a market within a location? Is it important to have that sort of layer level of person involved and then a level above to kind of get a rich, almost yeah, a rich tapestry of insights? Is that something you would say is a little bit of a tidbit that you would offer forward? Is don't just keep this at, you know, the exact level and let people beneath contribute. Much like with Hoshin Kanri, they talk about catch ball and having multiple levels involved.

Is it important to have different levels involved in the creation and review process? 


[James Davies] Yeah, I was just going to say, I think it's important for both, you know, it's important for, you know, fundamentally the same reason, regardless of whether it's strategy creation or, you know, as you put a strategy with you, you know, you want the people that are the closest to the data to interpret the data. 


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[James Davies] But at the end of the day, you can't have 50 or a hundred people in each strategy with you. It be unwieldy and, you know, it's not a good idea. So I think the most important thing is the people who are interpreting that information that's presented to them on a quarterly basis, are able to interpret it and see the insight, and then be able to discuss it, and then potentially take action on it.

So, I think, that's kind of bleeding into another area, which we, again, we kind of touched on this notion that of insufficient time. You know, it's hard when you've got a day job to carve out time to think strategically, you know, tools help. But what if this was just an ongoing activity? You know. So there's no activity to update the competitive landscape on a monthly basis, on a quarterly basis.

You know, if something happens, it's captured. When a new trend arrives, it's captured in your, you know, if the size of one of your target markets changes, it's captured, you know, you almost want to capture that real-time. Why wouldn't you, right? If one of the barriers to strategy creation is a lack of insight due to fragmented data, then, you know, that's one you can begin to solve.

So, but fundamentally, to answer your question, you know, you want those subject matter experts to be involved in it. You know, you can't have strategy created in isolation. I think that's true of creation and review. 


[James] So we talked a lot about barriers and obstacles to creation and review of strategy. I wouldn't be doing my job if I wasn't going to ask you what I'm about to ask you, which is, that's all well and good, but how do you overcome them? What do organizations need to do in order to create a winning strategy? 


[James Davies] Yeah. I haven't got a clue. I'm sorry. You invited the wrong person. When you put me up there with Philippe and Pascal and Rachel and Fredrik, I'm kidding. Let's unpack all of the, you know, best practices and models and, you know, terms that are out there.

I mean, you know, and let's look at the world through the lens of a noodle loop, right? So probably, you know, people listening to this podcast, Tom Boyd, US Air Force, observe, orient, decide, act, it's just a play on the PDCA cycle. But, you know, kind of looking at the world through that lens, you want to observe what's going on.

You want to orient, you know, to understand, you know, that information, that context around you, you know, you are then going to be making decisions, and then you act on those decisions. So, you know, you and I have talked about this kind of eight step process and, you know, how accessible that might make strategy creation. So yeah. Should we run through the eight? 


[James] Absolutely. 


[James Davies] Okay. So, you know, inspire, shape, observe, gather, orient, explore, develop, and act. So, you know, let's take those from the top. So what do we mean by inspire? You know, this is mission, vision, values, what we want to be when we're grown up. Why are we in it in existence? What are we trying to achieve? And, you know, what are the values that they're going to bind us together as an organization to give us the best shot of, you know, meeting those aspirations. So that's what we mean by inspire. And shape, you know, that setting guardrails, right?

You know, clearly, you know, we're in a software business, you know, even if there might be a fantastic opportunity in double glazing, guess what? We're not going to go pursuing it, you know? So there are certain guardrails to, you know, help you determine what can and can't be, you know, be considered what will and won't be acceptable, and so on. So that's what we mean by shape. You know, lay those out from the beginning in terms of, you know, constraints, if you will, you know, constraints on strategic thinking. Observe, you know, that's kind of an easy one to talk about, it's a harder one to do in practice, which is, you know, look at your internal organization, look at your external environments, you know, internally, what are your skills? What are your capabilities? You know, what are they today? How mission-critical are they? How mature are you as an organization? You know, how prevalent are those skills across your organization? What's your organizational structure? You know, so, and then later on, well, what are the skills, you know, and capabilities that we'll need in order to execute our strategy. You know, how expensive will it be to implement those? And so on.

So, you know, taking a look at the internal organization, then poor deep breath, looking at the external, you know, environment. You know, what industries do you serve? What markets do you sell into? Where's the customer value? What's the customer experience? What's going on with the competition? What are the analysts saying? What about our partners? And what about influencers? So You've got this whole world out there of, you know, things and people, things that are happening, you know, people that need to be considered as stakeholders. So, you know, having some way of kind of making sense of that external environment, making sense of that internal environment. And then, you know, two steps down, you know, in this process, we'll use that information.

So that's kinda observe. And then gather, you know, I think there's kind of two, at least two aspects to this. One is, you know, let's go back to agile strategy. You know, how did we do in, you know, in the last strategic review, let's say it's quarterly, and taking some of those principles of agile over retrospective, you know, and taking that information on board when looking at the body of work for the next quarter. And strategic ideas. We talked about innovations earlier. And this is another good reason to involve everybody. The best ideas come from the ground floor typically, you know, people have these great ideas. You need to capture them, prioritize them, and, you know, percolate them up to the surface and make use of them. So, you know, some means of gathering and prioritizing those strategic ideas. And at that point, you're taking a second breath, you know, you've got all the pieces and parts that should help you to then, you know, decide on your strategic position.

Orients is how we talked about it. So, you know, and let's just take a simple example, SWOT, you know, armed with all of that information, what are your internal strengths and weaknesses? And what are your external opportunities and threats? Now you can start the process of strategy creation, you know, that's where you are. That's your strategic position. What are you going to do about it? What are the changes you're going to make? What are the things that you're going to aspire to achieve? How you going to move the needle? And that's where, you know, you begin to explore different strategic options. And, you know, conversely or symmetrically is strategic challenges.

You know, it's great that you have strategic options to consider and, you know, different ways by which you can measure their, you know, probability of success or, you know, whatever the case may be. You know, they're going to be challenges if you go down these paths. So identify those early as well, you know, and that feeds into your risk profile. So, you know, there you go. You say you've explored your strategic growth options, you know, you've identified one or two that looked very promising. And, you know, the next hard work starts to really look into those strategic options, do scenario planning, scenario analysis, and ultimately, you know, craft a strategy and package it up, for strategic planning.

That would be kind of the very simple process, you know, simple by design and hopefully useful, you know, because it's simple.  


[James Milsom] Thank you, by the way. I think there are lots of elements to that process, but what it does from my perspective is that, and it's something that I know I follow for sure. It gives you the ability to look at, look at it as a process, look at it as a step-by-step. And you know that in some cases you're going to have to be, you know, employing a SWOT analysis, you know, conducting a VRIO analysis.

You know, on the other hand, you're going to have to be making sure that you're effectively surveying the market and your competitors, and then all the way through to, you know, generating scenarios. I think it brings in so many elements of what many people listening probably already do day to day. But it gives a very good structure to it.

As you were talking, one of the things that I know that we've spoken about offline is about once you've created that SWOT, for instance, is finding a way to prioritize your learnings. Do you think that a prioritization, a classic prioritization that you might use or model, sorry, you might use for projects, can be applied here in the sense of, we have four strengths and we know that the first two are going to be, you know, they're the things that we absolutely should be building our strategy around.

Do you think that that prioritization is important? And can you do this process without having prioritization there? 


[James Davies] To your second question. Yeah. Absolutely. What we're talking about is, you know, do you quantify those SWOT elements? You know, so you don't just create a strength, but you attach some sort of score, meaningful score to it. You know, it may be a business impact, right? That would be a good one for a strength. Some of the strengths are going to yield a moderate business impact, and that's fine. And some of your strengths might be yielding a monumental business impact. You know, so why wouldn't you capture that?

It's, you know, in that case, it's a single score which, you know, is relatively easy to do. Now how you then use that information is down to, you know, down to you and your maturity. And I think what you're hinting at, and I would agree, is, you know, start it off simple. You know, eight steps, or maybe for you, for listeners, it might be six steps, it might be four steps, it might be, you know, step seven should be step nine, and, you know, whatever the case may be, you know, keep it simple and start to introduce that discipline. Start to collect that information, start to go on that journey, you know, to grow up with respect to strategy creation, and to make the most of all of that learning and, you know, body of knowledge that's out there on the web and in people's heads as to, you know, how you can, you know, how you can improve strategy creation. And, you know, on that note, you know, just as an interesting aside, you know, you and I, our day jobs are in the strategy execution domain.

You know, and everybody talks about how important it is that you have, you know, great strategy execution, otherwise you're, you know, you're going to fail to deliver. But hey, loose flash, you know, if you don't have a decent strategy in the first place, doesn't really matter how good you are executing your strategy, you know, you're not going to be successful strategically. So it is interesting going back to the beginning of this podcast and what we're saying about observations of what's going on. And I think people are rocking that, you know, this thing called strategy creation is super important.

It's been a little bit neglected, or it certainly hasn't been done in an optimized, you know, structured way. And, you know, everything starts and stops with the strategy, but then at our day jobs, it's great that you've got a strategy but you know, how do you go ahead and plan the implementation of that strategy across your 40 locations, you know, your 5,000 employees? And you know, I would append going back again, so I'm your editing nightmare on this podcast, but, go back to what I was saying earlier about, you know, five barriers to strategy creation.

You know, I forgot one. It's gotta be communication. It's gotta be clarity and communication, the two Cs, right? You've got to be able to express strategic intent really clearly so that people understand what you're trying to achieve. It sounds obvious, but, and then at the end of the cycle, it's like, once you've done that, once you've gone through the process, guess what?

You got to win the hearts and minds of your workforce. You need to be able to communicate that strategy so that everybody from the top floor to the shop floor understands it and how they fit into it. Now we're bleeding into strategic planning and, you know, full circle back to our day jobs. 


[James Milsom] Yeah. I couldn't agree more. That's communication and change management as a whole. Has been a consistent theme through the different strategy heroes that I've spoken to. You take Fredrik Fjelstedt, who is a Hoshin Kanri and Lean expert came up from the Toyota production system. He talks about the four Cs.

Now, not too dissimilar from what you talked about there. And communication is something that, you know, he really, really champions. You take talking to Rachel Neaman whose focus was really all around change management and digital transformation. Again, win hearts and minds and do a great job communicating your intent and the benefits. And it's the same when we spoke to Pascal Dennis who really takes all of these concepts and talks about how you should be using them to drive innovation and build upon operational basics.

Change management and communication is clearly a constant in any area of strategic leadership. So with that in mind, how do you, how would you recommend that handover takes place? Like what's involved in the handover of, we've created the strategy now go and execute it? Is there, is there a best practice that you'd suggest that makes it easier? Or is it a case of involving planners in that eight-step process that you talked about? 


[James Davies] Yeah, I mean, I think all of the above and, you know, every company is going to do this, you know, slightly differently. You know, it would be crazy not to involve the strategic planning team, you know, as part more than just a casual observer in strategy creation. I would expect in mid to large-size enterprises, you know, they're probably one and the same.

You know, there's a strategy team who facilitates strategy creation with the executive team, let's say, or a line of business leaders. And they're the same people who would then, you know, in a top-down model, I hasten to add who would then, you know, go into that strategic planning exercise that we, you know, we both dearly love. You know, where you are deciding, you know, how are we going to meet those objectives? What do we need to do in order to, you know, meet those strategic objectives that have come out of, you know, strategy creation? And herein lies part of the answer, which is, you know, what's that line of demarcation? You know.

Theoretically, conceptually, it's a set of strategic objectives. It's got the colour of the strategy behind it, but at the end of the day, it's a set of strategic objectives with some meaningful KPIs and, you know, some attainable, but hopefully somewhat aggressive targets. And then, you know, strategic planning kicks in and, you know, methodologies like Hoshin to drive alignment and not just Hoshin and other models too. I think that's the line of demarcation. And, you know, just naturally they would both, the strategic planning team would be involved in both of them. I'd imagine that they're one of the same people in a top-down. 


[James Milsom] Yeah. Yeah. I remember reading Hubber Jolie's book. The book talks about having a noble cause and the noble cause isn't necessarily you're doing something philanthropic. You have a clear identity, you have a clear direction that where you are going. And one of the things that I, if I dare say I, I notice there's a gap in his book was what we're talking about today.

He was talking more about the execution side, not so much what we've been focusing on in terms of creation. To sort of, I know that I know that there's a lot more that we could say. But to kind of bring this episode to a natural end. If you could pick one bit of advice from your, not just from this process that you've been going through in terms of building out the best practices for strategy creation, but from your entire career.

If you could pick one bit of advice for CEOs and chief strategy officers that are listening or even those people that want to get to that stage in their career, and I'm sure you will, so keep going, but what would that one piece of advice be to those people around strategy creation? 


[James Davies] I think, you know, it's a journey. And to your point earlier that they are already on that journey in some shape or form. You know, it's not like companies aren't doing it, it's just that there are probably plentiful opportunities to, you know, to optimize it, to mature it, to push it along.

So I think it would be start small, you know, just set modest goals and embed, embed that in the organization and temper your enthusiasm. And just get, you know, what you and I talk about sometimes is the Bobby basics in place. Just get some basic structure, some basic rigour, some basic discipline. And I think this is true of any, you know, beyond this sphere as well. And then build from there. You know, Rome wasn't built in a day, and I think, you know, change management is difficult.

You know, don't try and bore the ocean. You know, just start small. Do that well, and then, you know, there are no end of resources and methodologies and frameworks and perspectives and learnings that you can, you know, that you can read about, watch, listen to, you know, to then take those next steps forward on that, on that journey or on that kind of maturity continuum. You did say one, it was lengthy, but it was just still one. 


[James Milsom] I'm sure we could have a whole other episode around those little titbits. But thank you. I think that's invaluable to our audience. And on the topic of taking the next steps in your journey, what I would recommend to anyone listening is, if you want to hear more from James.

James has written a lot around this subject, and I would definitely recommend that you head over to your search engine, Google or Bing, or whatever that might be and type in I-Nexus blog or visit blog.i-nexus.com And you can learn more about the best practices and actually get real insight that you can put into practice around strategy creation. And much more.

But for now, I want to, again, I want to thank you, James, for your time. I know that this is something that you and I have been talking about for a while, and I've been really excited to just prepare for this podcast, but actually to run through. It has been, yeah, it's been amazing. So again, thank you for joining us on today's episode. 


[James Davies] Yeah, pleasure. It's been fun. Thanks, James. 


[James Milsom] Until next time. Today that has been our strategy hero, James Davies, and we look forward to our next episode. Thank you. 


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James's episode was the fourth of six in our opening season of Strategy Hero.

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About Strategy Hero

Published on the last Wednesday of every month, the Strategy Hero podcast delves into the world of business strategy and transformation.

Each cast shines a spotlight on a Strategy Hero – inspirers, boundary pushers, and leaders of change from all walks of life – armed with practical advice on achieving your goals.

Episodes explore topics around operational excellence, Lean management, process improvement, change management, and much, much more. Available where all great podcasts live, listen on-demand today, and discover the Strategy Hero inside you.

About the host

James Milsom is Head of Marketing at i-nexus, but James is a storyteller. He’s the UK’s biggest Georgia Bulldogs fan (go Dawgs!) and lives and breathes marketing.

The Strategy Hero podcast is his opportunity to bring some of his conversations with mentors, inspirers, and people anew to you every month.

He’s behind the content read and watched by people like you and lives to educate and help others.

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