Strategy is a verb

Jan 07, 2015
As consultants, we regularly support our customers in their strategy review process. We are wholehearted advocates of this kind of initiative. Not because it gives us a nice opportunity to reconnect with the customer or because it might serve as a ramp-up to a new project. No it is more a matter of organizational hygiene: in today’s dynamic, interconnected and pretty unpredictable world, it is important that companies stay in tune with the industry they operate in. If organizations don’t, they become irrelevant sooner or later. And since we are genuinely committed to our customers’ successes, reviewing the plan is something we enthusiastically support.

Strategy is a continuous process

At Delaware Consulting, we review our strategy every five years. In preparation for the 2015-2020 iteration, we questioned the relevance of having an outside consultant. Being strategists ourselves, we know the danger of organizational myopia (i.e. being blind for the obvious or avoiding to challenge the status quo). Therefore, we scouted an advisory firm to challenge and underpin our opinions with data, allowing us to be the owner of the decisions taken.

Strategy is a team sport

And it worked out well! Our business partner AT Kearney was well-prepared, brought in a lot of extra content, was highly communicative and very committed. The main reason for our successful collaboration though was the fact that they also embrace the concept of co-creation. By design, co-creation leads to a shared and internalized vision on the future.

We labeled Delaware Consulting’s vision for 2020 ‘recombining the future’. It is the result of a process of divergence and convergence of different options, insights and initiatives. It is the synthesis of a comprehensive strategic dialogue on the changes in our industry, the needs of our customers, the role we have to play, the ambition we have, the way we can be different and the choices we need to make.

In our own engagements, we also believe in the power of co-creation. People embrace what they have created. DLW 4.0 is not just the result of a brainstorm with a few partners. It is a joined effort of leadership, task forces, working groups and most and for all the insights spontaneously given by many of our professionals via our internal social network Yammer.

Strategy is a clear and consistent story

The journey of DLW 4.0 rendered us a clear vision on our purpose. In the true ‘Sherpa’ spirit, we guide and support our clients and business partners in the realization of an effective transformation. The outcome of our engagements translates in productivity improvement and in the realization of a distinctive and sustainable customer value proposition.

Technology is a critical success factor. Automation is the most important engine of economic development in the coming decades. Digitizing processes, insights and services render unanticipated opportunities in terms of volume, variety and efficiency. But technology alone is not sufficient. Sound management frameworks, creativity and organizational redesign are essential complements in the equation.

Delaware Consulting will make the difference in recombining state-of-the-art technology and smart business concepts. The capability to cleverly recombine capabilities and competences for different industries and diverse functional applications is part of our DNA. The concept of recombination stems from the assumption that innovation should not be limited to coming up with something big and new. It also entails recombining things that already exist. Recombination, we believe, allows us to develop effective solutions that are better, faster and cheaper.

More than ever, we need to ask the right questions, innovatively bundle existing components and tools and ingeniously co-create solutions across the organizational boundaries with our customers and partners. This will allow us to capture the promising but challenging waves of the second machine age. This notion, coined by influential MIT scholars Brynjolfsson and McAfee, refers to the transformational and even revolutionary powers in the fusion of real, useful artificial intelligence and the world connected through a common digital network.

The only constraint to growth in this fundamentally optimistic vision is the ability to process the number of new ideas. Therefore we will improve our internal processes and foster enabling leadership. This will effectively balance innovation with operational efficiency.

To capture the opportunities for growth and foster collaboration, we launch 6 international growth initiatives. Besides, we channel the go-to-market activities in all our entities through 3 value clusters: Business Insights, Customer Experience and Operational Excellence. The optimization of different components of the management processes (HR 4.0, Finance 4.0, Marketing 4.0…) ensures that all positioning vectors are well aligned to contribute to our joined success.

A textbook example

We can be proud of this vision with so many co-authors. The different building blocks and the sequence of events led to a consistent and logic design. But this is a story without an end. The work is not finished. Putting our strategy to use is the most challenging job. Like Clayton Christensens, one of the most inspiring professors in strategic management, states: ‘your strategy is not what you say it is, it’s what you do’.

It is in the translation of these great statements into day-to-day activities and changes in behavior that our strategy becomes reality. But we can. We, at Delaware Consulting, are passionate in what we do, have the expertise and experience needed, are open to collaborate and not too stubborn to never change our opinion. We are creative and innovative.

Let’s start recombining the future!


Author: Geert Scheipers. You can follow Geert on Twitter (@g_scheipers) or connect with him on LinkedIn.