My day job doing Business Strategy

I do business strategy. I am one of those ‘non-producers‘ that, per the name used, brings no production to the place I work for.

Read it - no client or trading revenues

You could also call me ‘management’ on a good day, central overhead on a bad day. With this start, why am I even talking about it?

The Start

I moved into the management side, from a promising career in Investment Banking, 6.5 years ago. What originally started as an experiment because I was bored and wanted to grow, quickly became a career per se. I was astonished at the massive differential between the people producing and those managing the business.

I knew then that my ability to make an impact in business strategy was beyond revenue generation. My Investment Banking discipline and Harvard Business School critical approach were just what I needed.

Managing a business has clients and revenues at its core. But everything else around it determines its long term sustainability. The businesses that spend enough time governing themselves, measuring themselves, challenging themselves and investing to embrace or provoke change are most likely those who are long term market leaders. They will also stand a better chance at sustaining (surviving) disruption.

And now?

When I moved to work for the head of the department that is the market leader in Europe, I thought I might regret it. How much business strategy would they really be doing if they were #1 already? Happily, I was proven wrong and shown the reason for sustainable leadership – no complacency.

So that is a big part of what management must do.

Avoid complacency, challenge the status quo, watch out for market changes.

And that should be done based on hard facts rather than hunches. There is little danger of someone like me following a hunch – because of my assumed ignorance, a hunch would not be acceptable.

So analysis must back what I do.

Yes, I know, you are thinking it is not all in the numbers. I agree. But numbers provide managers with an incomparable ability to ask questions and refute or test assumptions. This later approach (learned from the start up world) is something I have been bringing more into the analysis in order to structure the qualitative component.

Strategy, investment, efforts are based often on people's beliefs, or sometimes gut really.

What is business strategy really?

The challenge is to absorb the full knowledge of those closest to the product/ market/ client, and use a scientific approach to identify and test these beliefs. It is only then that we can take the probing to the next level and assess what happens to us as a business if our ‘gut’ is wrong. This assumption testing model is also key at creating accountability with those in the business, which could be the topic of a whole separate column.

So this is what it is, the art of doing business, behind the scenes, while ‘not producing’.

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash


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