Fast strategy or strategy fast?

Fast strategy or strategy fast?

I worked as a strategy consultant for an organization, temporarily tremendously understaffed for the volume of business they generated and the complexity of work they do as part responding to RFPs and compiling high volume tenders. Apparently, hardly anybody had the time to support my data and internal intelligence gathering process, so I had to put my sleeves up and find myself all what I had wanted. That was fun, however one day the CEO nocked on my door and asked: “Will the strategy be ready by tomorrow?”

Being a trained coach and having led numerous sales and general meetings, training courses in multiple locations in Europe and the Gulf region, my exes opened wide and my heart beat just took a “day foo” for a moment.

“Pardon me?”- I asked myself.

In today’s turbulent word the need for speed is inevitable. Your organization does not need to be agile in all aspects to realize that a day here or an hour there may put you out from a Business deal. However, you typically do not put together a document (based on lines of thoughts, evaluation of options etc.) in an afternoon or evening. Especially if your survival and your success is at risk.
Using certain frameworks, BCG, SWOT or even my favorite, Blue Ocean Strategy, people assume that strategy work is something that you do mechanically and that you do it overnight
The work of strategy is one of the most challenging work an associate will do. The “ugly truth” is that it’s never really finished. Strategy creation is an organic process, not an event, but a never-ending work of gathering, analyzing, evaluating and choosing. Especially if you realize that to implement it, you need to change the organizational culture.

Like a fellow coach Art Petty wrote: “I empathize with the executive’s underlying angst over timing. He’s leading an exciting, entrepreneurial business with nearly endless options and potential vectors. Planning to spend time away from the tornado-like environment of daily operations and opportunities seems unappealing and stressful”.

The very reasons of too many choices and too many opportunities chasing too few resources, is why strategy is needed. Right now, there’s no filter on what to do and what not to do. Every idea seems like a potential winner in isolation”, but in complexity, chasing half of them will not take the corporates really forward.

My humble response to this executive was centered around the idea to rephrase the question to something like this: “How can we leverage strategy to make smarter ‘yes’-es and “no”-s to create a sustainably growing business?” How can you create a culture, which is governed by the corporate mission and values and in which there are reoccurring “strategy sprints” – leasing the term from agile software development? How can you create an organizational culture, which, on top of everything recognizes “creativity” as well as allows for failures without punishment, but encourages learning from failures? If such an environment is created, everyone will recognize that strategic planning never actually stops and strategy does not have to be put together overnight. Then everyone will understand that as there is “fast food” and “fast fashion,” there is also “fast strategy”. However, this “fast strategy” is not characterized by how fast it is put together (i.e. overnight), but by how fast the teams react to the changes in the competitive environment and how fast they can change the corporate strategy.

Adapt or die. What business leaders need to know today

Adapt or die. What business leaders need to know today

What leaders and managers need in today’s business environment is to act quickly. To be agile and…

When Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations in 1776, he described the characteristics and benefits of a free market, in which wealth was transferred between the producers of raw materials, manufacturers, and consumers of refined goods.

Smith argued that a free market would ensure competition that resulted in higher quality goods at lower prices. The underlying presumption was that manufacturers would always have to create or respond to changes in the market to ensure their viability and success. In Smith’s era, however, change came at a glacial pace; it would take years, sometimes decades, before change rippled across global markets.

The modern economy–global, domestic, and local–however is fast and dynamic; it’s in a constant state of change. And so the greatest overarching challenge facing leaders and their organizations today is to be able to quickly respond to market change; they must be the catalyst of organizational change that will guide their businesses to market leadership.

The pressure for change requires enterprises to maintain the following qualities:

  • RESILIENCE: Able to bounce back from setbacks.
  • INNOVATION: Able to push the envelope and develop new products, services, and methodologies that advance beyond the competition.
  • AGILE Able to act nimbly to seize opportunities.
  • ADAPTABILITY Able to sustain innovation through repeatable processes and organizations that ensure advancements happen due to planning, not happenstance.


As an analogy, think of the Internet. In 1973, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency initiated a research program to investigate techniques and technologies for interlinking packet networks of various kinds.

The objective was to develop communication protocols, which would allow networked computers to communicate transparently across multiple, linked packet networks.

The Internet’s creation made communications ubiquitous; yet it does so much more: the Internet allows organizations to be agile–to be able to act nimbly to seize opportunities. It has been the enabler of endless innovation in business models, processes, and global collaboration.

In the same way, an organization that is adaptable–agile and resilient–will be equipped to experience sustained success, meaning it’s continuous and evolutionary. Sustainable innovation and growth involves solutions to problems that reflect a commitment to economically, environmentally, and socially sound business practices.

The connection among these concepts should not be surprising. Innovation, after all, is doing something new that creates value in the marketplace. Agility and resilience imply the ability to react to something new.





Több sales executive-tól hallottam azt a mondatot, hogy „oh, nem megyek ki az ügyfélhez, mert utánanéztem az interneten, és most egészen biztosan nem akarnak tőlünk vásárolni”. Tegnap egy barátomnak, aki 2 napra érkezett Budapestre, hirtelen vissza kellett utaznia Dubaiba. A jegye persze a mai napra szólt, amit szerettünk volna kicseréltetni. Felhívtuk a call centert, a légitársasági vezetőjét, az értékesítési igazgatót, beszéltünk a jegyeladókkal. Mindenki azt mondta, hogy a járat úgy tele van, hogy egészen biztosan nem fog tudni egy nappal hamarabb elutazni. Ennek ellenére kimentünk a repülőtérre. Sorba álltunk. Vártunk. Kértünk. Könyörögtünk. Egészen a járat indulása előtti utolsó pillanatig. És csodák csodája… a 275 utas közül 1 mégsem jelent meg időben. Barátom tehát felfért a repülőgépre. Szerinted elfogadható a fent említett kifogás egy értékesítőtől?



„1 MINUTE SALES” – I love riding my Vespa in the city, where, in order to make it for my next meeting on time, I just jump on my scoter, zig-zag among the cars, bypass long lanes in the traffic jams and at the traffic signals, I usually secure my position in front of the first car – just like all scooter riders do.

When the signal turns green, the real fun comes, when I accelerate and the air caresses my face. What a joy of freedom! I overtake everyone! But then comes the next set of traffic light and the next queue of cars. So, I need to stop. From time to time, however, I decide not to zig-zag so aggressively. „I wait in line”, or “The place between the lanes of cars is too narrow to sneak through comfortably, so I wait. I could do it, but I’d rather wait” – I say to myself. But then one or two other scoter riders DO bypass me and get to the very front of the queue.

This is competition. This is its nature.

As a leader or as a sales or business development team member you may often find yourself in a situation, when you need to realize that if you are not pushing hard enough, the competitors overtake you. Where do they come from? From behind, from the side, from (almost) everywhere. You may see them approaching in your mirror, but from time to time you may think „ Oh, there is no room for them to bypass me. I am secure here and I am blocking the way, so no one can bypass me. Plus, there are the laws and regulations – everything favors me and I will be safe”. Or, you may simply think: “It is not elegant to cross the solid line in the middle of the road and bypass a queue of cars”. Well, the ugly truth is that there always room, there is always some space, there is always a niche, where your competitors (or a disruptor) can bypass you. Then, when the traffic light turns green, the ones right at the traffic light start off first, they accelerate fast (as the road ahead is clear), while you, waiting for your turn, still have to give time to the cars to clear first and only then you can accelerate. It may well happen that you can never catch or overtake those disruptive scooter riders (your competitors) again.

What can you do to avoid this to happen?

Be as agile possible and go to the limits! As a leader, a sales person, a business development manager, learn from the competitive scooter riders and always aim for the pole position!