Welcome to 2012.
It’s hard for me to believe it, but this blog has lain idle since January 2009. A couple of factors contributed to this *ahem* sojourn.
First, my daughter (Miss Sophie) entered my life and has managed to account for pretty much every spare minute of it since.
Second, there was a trajectory change career-wise. After almost 15 years of running my own management consulting business, I took a position as Head of Strategy at a technology consulting firm, tasked with designing and launching a new-to-market strategic advisory service offering.
What followed was an enjoyably challenging and successful two years, culminating in a lateral move to an even larger – this time global – technology consulting firm (ThoughtWorks, my current employer).
I’ve been with ThoughtWorks for a little over a year now. It is an interesting firm, with an interesting pedigree (more on that in a later post).
As a living, breathing embodiment of the Agile Manifesto and aligned software development philosophy, ThoughtWorks has presented me with my first true professional challenge in a long time: re-casting how I practice the management science and disciplines of strategy formulation and execution.
Few seasoned strategy practitioners would question that the field of strategy (and it’s cousin, strategic planning) has changed. We recognise that markets are more dynamic, competition is more intense, and the fundamental output of organisations has shifted from the predictable production of tangible things (products) to the less predictable delivery of intangibles (knowledge, services and experiences).
There are fewer ‘knowns’ and significantly more ‘unknowns’ (even though some might fall into the category of ‘known unknowns’).
Yet the development of strategy for many organisations remains a linear, heavily-structured, top-down process, often far-removed from the day-to-day realities of business.
My day-to-day focus at ThoughtWorks remains strategy formulation and execution. I help organisations re-imagine what is possible in their industry, and to then re-design their business model and product/service portfolio to meet the needs, wants and preferences of their customers in new ways that create unrivalled value propositions.
However, both directly and indirectly, my primary challenge is working with leaders and senior stakeholders to overcome their fear of letting go – of moving past the structured, controlled but value-destroying process of strategy development (and strategic planning) as it is practiced in most organisations today, and embracing a more adaptive (agile) approach that is less prescriptive, more inclusive of all levels of the organisation, and better able to respond to emerging market opportunities and challenges.
I look forward to sharing what I have learnt – and am learning – as I grapple with these new challenges.