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Leader As Strategist

Bold and visionary leaders take their companies in the exciting new directions. Their confidence and right decision making ability are crucial for leadership and change

Creating effective strategies is indispensable for the success of organizations. Powerful global forces like game-changing technologies, unprecedented growth rate in the emerging markets and rapidly ageing population are transforming the world economy. If we analyze the responsibilities of strategists it revolves around three core areas like generating insights, enabling and enacting strategic decision and owning specific value levers.

There are three ways in which the strategist can craft comprehensive strategies for the future.

Think beyond the strategic planning - the traditional strategic planning process is a march towards a series of meetings, reviews and deliverables. The strategic planning process itself can't absorb the shocks of the precarious markets plummeting and rising in sporadic manner. So the outdated process should be replaced by ongoing process. This includes open interaction at all levels and relocating resources throughout the year. This can increase profitability along with long term strategy in place.

Develop signature strengths - As per the world economic forum survey, a cluster analysis was done to 20 roles in strategic responsibilities. The facet included lot of territory from building strategic capability, forecasting, managing government and regulatory relationships. The signature strength came with the intersection of the primary combinations. Four archetypes were discovered. First one looks for the industry shifts trying to understand the sources of competitive advantage. Second explores trends but an aberration that their brand of trends focused on long ranging topics like reputational/regulatory risks with potential to change the industry. The third type spends time on analyzing the CEO with higher organizational IQ on the strategy. Much of their time is spent at the company building capability across the organization and developing talent pool a in domains like how to create business plan, skills necessary for crafting clear well informed strategic proposals. The last type of the archetype is expert at optimizing the corporate portfolios and performance for right investment decisions. When it comes to the disruptive technologies the cash cows is more favorable as compared to the traditional industries. Not all the archetypes are the same for all strategies and honest self assessment is required while making the choice.

Prioritize - What is the underlying driving force will depend on the unique circumstances of organizations and also the capability of the strategist. To optimize the performance it might be advisable to reshuffling of the responsibilities. In the complex world there is a demand for a good strategy in place. By identifying the mismatches and reprioritizing them strategist can surely boost the quality of their strategy.

Strategy as a voice of introspection


Bold and visionary leaders take their companies in the exciting new directions. Their confidence and right decision making ability are crucial for leadership and change. Over the years if we analyze number of once well run companies like Burlington Industries, Consolidated foods, Scott Paper, Mead, and Masco now have disappeared. These industries in later stages before becoming defunct were characterized by low productivity, high transportation costs , eroding prices, low returns and slow growth rates. In the mid-1980s more than 2,500 manufactures competed with 82 percent sales coming from the biggest 400 companies. There were substitutes and new entrants who captured the markets. With many new designs, knock off innovations, very long lead times the customers felt frustrated. Moreover, there was very little advertising.

The margin of the old existing companies with non competitive attributes began to dip .The strategist must understand the forces acting on the industry. The crucial is to have a differentiation that really matters in the industry. Take the example of the furniture industry .It is rules more by fashion than by function. IKEA the market leader created a new niche with differentiated economic model. A leader must introspect and serve as a voice of introspection when a bold strategy to reshape an industry's forces actually reflects indifference to them.

The strategist as operator/executor

A great strategy is not a dream of lofty ideas but a bridge between market economics and, ideas at the core of the business which accompanies through actions. The foundation rests on the clarity and real operating sensibility. Gucci a today a revered name once faced a crisis with plummeting sales and losses after the unbridled licensing. With distinctive red and green logo on every product right from sneakers to packs of the playing cards over nearly 22500 products reduced the brand equity and cheapened the brand.De Sole the company head asked its top managers to analyze the category sales trend over specific period. He wanted rely on data rather than intuition. Gucci's recent success had come from the seasonal fashion items, traditional customers and trend liner. De sole along with the lead designer tom ford looked into empirical evidence which concluded that it would be more feasible and hence profitable to position in the upper middle of the design market i.e. luxury aimed at masses.

There was an increased focused on fashion with trendy, exciting complemented with leather goods and ready to wear clothes each year. The company attained a new brand identity and there was a lot of excitement among the customers. Advertising was given the priority .The stores were modernized and with special attention to customer support .25 best suppliers were picked who were given the financial and technical attention. .Simultaneously the efficiency in the logistics was boosted. As a result the operating costs fell and flexibility rose. There were changes in Pricing, marketing, design, product line, distribution, manufacturing and logistics along with the organizational management and culture which were well coordinated, internally consistent and interlocking. The ultimate aim of producing products that were high quality fashion forward and of good value were attained .In course of time sales had risen multifold with high profitability Gucci regained the brand leadership. De Sole faced strictly binary decision and acted like a true operator strategist creating high value products.

A never-ending task

In today's entwined world, maintaining strategic momentum is a key challenge that confronts an organization. There is a challenge in decision making when multiple choices exists and it is the role of a strategist to choose the best with a specific set of strategy. Leaders need to conceptualize what their organizations do and how strategist can play a catalytic game changing role.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Tags assigned to this article:
management leadership business strategies

Divakar Prakash

The author is a Strategy Consultant with experience of consulting CEO level executives and key stakeholders in Real Estate , Government, Not for Profit, FMCG and Chemical sectors. Educated at the School of Management ,University of St-Andrews consistently a top ranked institution in Europe at Master's level in business Strategy, Corporate Finance and General Management

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