Welcome strategist, to 2020!

Sustainability through strategy

In his 2008 book, The Black Swan, the author considers world events “dominated by the extreme, the unknown and the very improbable”. The pandemic response is just such an event. Your leadership NOW will dictate whether your organisation prospers or joins the sad ranks of the failed. Here are some pointers to consider.

Uncertainty: You may be managing in an unclear future but one agreed business truism is without a clear and compelling strategy your business will fail. In the 1980, 1990, and 2000 recessions 17% of almost 5000 US companies succumbed. But some 10% not only flourished but outperformed their competitors. Research into the Great Recession confirmed that some companies actually improved earnings throughout the period and afterward. The difference-maker was preparation.

Crisis: Government and business are currently in crisis mode. Management’s prime task is to stabilise the organisation, buying time so that once the underlying causes of the crisis are faced they can adapt to the new reality and thrive. People remain a key asset and their morale must not falter. Not only leaders but teams should be involved in decision-making. The leader however remains to be seen as the creative problem-solver, but in a calm and transparent way that steadies the ship .

Your leadership: So as the CEO, where do you start: Begin to look ahead, reviewing your challenges as you develop an understanding of the crisis and consider a response. You need to be adaptive, using a bottom-up approach that complements your strategic top-down efforts. Endeavour to create clarity and security for your employees. A US study found that organisations with hasty layoffs are twice as likely to file for bankruptcy. Rather than retrenchments or layoffs actively pursue the reallocation of employees to new and valuable activities, cross-training and redeployment where possible. Develop a time horizon that tries to predict the pandemic profile and begin contemplating a post-recovery strategy.

Your strategy: Strategic uncertainty is frightening and maintaining a strategically-focused organisation in these times is hugely challenging. Many will succeed or fail on their management’s ability to move forward precisely at times such as these when the path ahead is hazy. Continue to provide stable, realistic direction leading with confidence even if your strategy isn’t clear. Calm emotions through steady, pragmatic leadership and begin with some simple actions. Get back to basics; and remember that the first rule is “Don’t run out of money”; high debt-levels increase vulnerability. Continue to create and deliver value every day by focusing on what you can control. In uncertain times do good work and put the organisation in the best possible position to navigate new strategic choices.

Speculate but look ahead: This uncertainty will not last forever. Speculate on what’s unknown, what’s known and what is likely to happen. Continue developing tactics, in sprints rather than in marathons, that work towards a desired future state. Keep team communication open and tap into the expertise of everyone. Don’t be shy of pursuing opportunistic and transformative mergers and acquisitions. The pandemic response may change the rules of the game but history shows us that the best deals are often made in downturns. The ability to thrive during periods of strategic uncertainty has created great managers who then go on to become exceptional leaders.

Our PhD-level research has shown that the development and implementation of a well-crafted strategy, with its foundation built on what we termed “STRATEGIC ARCHITECTURE”, is the single most effective way of improving performance.

The Strategy Institute is a well-established strategy research, consultancy and teaching organisation passionate about organisational performance. It is built upon a 30-year legacy of assisting management in both the private and public sectors.

In this time, so far, we have...

Strategy development Facilitated Managed Been commissioned Dealt with Helped from the smallest SMME Assisted/
brokered sale of
Advised Worked in
Many, many 120+ 25+ by many to one large one 8+
Clients assisted with their development of effective implementable strategic plans business strategy workshops (The first one in '83!) major strategy, IT and organisation change projects government, private organisations and NGOs listed companies largest corporate business listing countries on 5 continents

What can we do together?

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2017 - 2020

Retirement Village - Institute Director assists community complex with accounts, management and strategy development.


Country-wide water delivery - Strategy Institute assists the Swaziland Water Services Corporation with their strategy for improving community access to water...
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