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Instant communication and the omnipresence of social media means businesses are held to account by their stakeholders, no longer privileged to get by on their reputation as they might have been even just a decade ago.

The preferences and demands of today’s businesses and consumers mean companies are obliged to practice positive business, be that demonstrating awareness of their environmental and social responsibilities or generating economic returns for their investors.

And if your business strategy is failing to adequately account for these demands, it is probably time for a rethink.

What is a business strategy?
Every business has some financial limitation on the tactics they can implement, so you need to be crystal-clear on the strategy from the get-go in order that your tactics are intelligent, resourceful and highly impactful. The strategy and tactics are distinct. The strategy is the what; the tactics are the how. A business has numerous functional-level strategies — marketing, business development, financial, innovation — but only one business strategy. For larger corporations, a specific business strategy will be in place for each business unit. Put simply, the business strategy is the highest-level plan, crucial to defining vision, prioritising objectives and distinguishing the company from its competition.

How to close the strategy-to-execution gap

Major players in the market are led by visionaries who took a dream, translated it into an actionable business strategy, then saw that strategy to fruition by executing it to devastating effect.

For instance, Total reinforced their green transformation strategy by leveraging the operational and execution experience of their strategic partner Qair. Total entered the offshore wind market when they purchased a 20 per cent stake in a windfarm in the Mediterranean Sea. The farm’s majority owner Qair, is also are the historical developer of the farm. This move by Total has set themselves up for success in entering and expanding their presence in the offshore wind sector in France.

This strategic move contributed to their overarching green transformation strategy and has given Total a launching pad for further achieving their green transformation.

A successful business strategy begets superlative growth, a strong financial performance and an enviable competitive position. If the most overarching strategy being practiced by your company is producing frankly inadequate results, your business is likely to fail.”

Leverage your leadership

The best business strategies close the strategy-to-execution gap by ensuring internal processes are tight, informed and straightforward. This orderliness will invariably stem from a strong leader who recognises and optimises the company’s capabilities with expert timing in order to enhance quality and customer experience. The finest leaders are flexible with implementation, communicate with intent and nurture initiative.

An example of leadership effectively driving a novel and successful business strategy can be seen through Novo Nordisk’s transition to clean energy.

Novo Nordisk are targeting 60,000 of their direct suppliers to provide 100% renewable energy by 2030 - this will eliminate 300,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas from their supply chain. Along with their focus on supply chain optimisation, Novo Nordisk has placed great importance on collaborative leadership - rather than leveraging a solely top-down leadership approach, the practice of sharing learnings across the company is encouraged. Their investment toward digital learning, supported by software integration and insight tools, has impacted the development of 15,000+ employees.

As a result, this has empowered decision-makers to make the right strategic decisions.

 

    Consideration points:

  • - Do you know the warning signs that your strategy isn’t working?
  • - What modelling are you using to analyse your strategy effectiveness?
  • - How can you harness your general objectives for the company and break them down into clear, achievable goals?

 

Foster a culture that supports your strategy

If you are looking to drive growth, reorganisation is key — but not necessarily the kind of reorganisation that entails endless and fruitless shuffling of systems, personnel and infrastructure. Spend time determining your strengths — then go and leverage them to full effect.

A problem is emerging in the oil and natural gas sector. Baby boomers born between 1946 – 1964 are approaching retirement age. They need to be replaced by millennials, However, according to a survey by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company only 44 per cent of STEM graduates from around the world said they would consider a career in oil and gas, while 77 per cent said a career in technology interests them.

Baker Hughes an oilfield services company in Houston have positioned themselves as cutting edge technologists in an attempt to recruit the next generation of employees. To appeal to millennials they promote a work culture of greater working from home flexibility, higher levels of diversity and inclusion.

 

It has been forecast that there will be a 40,000 shortage of engineers and other professionals by 2025.
 
- Is your organisation’s work culture designed to attract the next generation of employees, or is it too focused on those soon to retire?

Identify market opportunities

A solid comprehension of your company goals will better equip you to analyse consumer needs and discover niches that have hitherto gone unaddressed.

Customer segmentation and understanding/profiling
In order to understand demand, pinpoint common variables amongst your consumer base. These variables can be hard, such as age, sex, location, occupation, education and income, or soft, such as values, lifestyle and purchasing motivation.
Hard variables are invaluable when it comes to estimating the potential number of customers out there. Soft variables will help you make sense of consumers’ decisions and how they were influenced by such factors as price, convenience, design, durability and your business’s reputation.

Purchase/Buying situation analysis
Understanding why, when and how consumers engaged with your company is fertile ground for uncovering opportunities for expansion. Considering payment methods and distribution channels can educate you on how to more effectively position your product. Furthermore, endeavour to analyse supply. Look at the other players in the market and ask yourself:

  • • What is their value proposition?
  • • Which of their solutions and service lines are displaying significant growth, and why was there a motivation to buy?
  • • Are we better placed than our competitors to fulfil customer needs?

 

Monitor your competition

Most businesses utilise some form of competitor intelligence function to scope and analyse the competitive landscape in order to create value, leveraging such methods as traditional data reports and benchmarking analyses and studies, as well as new technologies such as artificial intelligence.

The synthesis of this array of information should constitute an integral component of every major strategic decision, be it:
• Go-to market plans
• Pricing architecture portfolios
• M&A transactions

Hone your business’s individuality and embrace what makes you different when faced with strong competition — then transform threats into opportunities.

    Ask yourself:

  • - What competitive advantage do we hold over them?
  • - How important was the factor of timing/timeliness to their success?

 

Develop and enable your distinctive capabilities


A singular, precise comprehension of what your business truly is — what it stands for and what it can do — will enable you to pursue a business strategy that adheres to your objectives. Those who are stuck formulating half-cooked aspirations for ‘growth’ are unlikely to succeed.

Corporate transformations are risky. They are often conducted in response to unforeseen external challenges, and these reactive initiatives are often conducted without empirical evidence because of time pressure.

In the context of companies planning a digital transformation strategy:
"85% of enterprise decision makers feel they have a timeframe of two years to make significant inroads on their digital transformation before suffering financially and/or falling behind their competitors."

Progress, 2016


    Key question:

  • - What changes can you seek to implement to ensure your company’s distinctive capabilities are optimised for market performance?

 

(Re)define your business strategy

A business strategy that discounts — or abjectly ignores — shifts in the market is one that is doomed to fail. It’s imperative that you foster a culture of optimism within your workplace, rewarding leadership, dynamism and initiative. This overarching positivity will permeate out into the farthest reaches of your consumer base, energising customers with your improved and newfound practices and solutions.

The future will not always be kind to your business — and that’s okay. Rather than fearing the prospect of fluctuations in the market, embrace the volatility. Stand poised to assess your company’s capabilities and reimagine their utility in order that your business will ride those waves and flourish. You might just realign your entire industry in the process.

Develop a winning business strategy with expert insights

Pangea SI is an on-demand consulting platform specialising in the energy, natural resources and infrastructure (ENRI) sector. We nurture the sharing of knowledge by harnessing the talent of experts from around the globe, helping our clients achieve their goals in the process. Contact us today to find out how Pangea SI can help transform your business strategy.

 

Which market opportunities are you strategising for?
- Mike Callis, Director

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