Tactics that worked in the past may be ineffective today. A quality mentor will help you identify best practices to help navigate tricky situations, while also acknowledging that what worked for them may not always work for you. It will help your team come to expect what they are going to get from you as a manager, while helping you map out your schedule and manage the team effectively.
But remember, you are not a one man team.
Your success is dependent upon the dedication and hard work of other employees within the company. Go out of your way to find ways to acknowledge their efforts. But when they do a good job on an important project, let them know you recognise and appreciate the work they put in. It has more impact than you might think. It comes off as annoying and obnoxious. Let the results do the talking. As C-level executives are driving the direction of the company, they need to pay attention to and study both micro and macro issues.
This will help you better understand and contextualise the decisions your company is making. Part of the power of these frameworks is that they can be applied to any industry. General ideas can be misleading, and as strategy becomes the domain of a broader group of executives, more will also need to learn to think strategically in their particular industry context. It is not enough to do so at the time of a major strategy review. Because strategy is a journey, executives need to study, understand, and internalize the economics, psychology, and laws of their industries, so that context can guide them continually.
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For example, being able to think strategically in the high-tech industry involves a nuanced understanding of strategy topics such as network effects, platforms, and standards. In the utilities sector, it involves mastery of the economic implications of and room for strategic maneuvers afforded by the regulatory regime. In mining, leaders must understand the strategic implications of cost curves, game theory, and real-options valuation; further, they must know and be sensitive to the stakeholders in their regulatory and societal environment, many of whom can directly influence their opportunities to create value.
There is a rich and specialized literature on strategy in particular industries that many executives will find helpful. See, for example, Carl Shapiro and Hal R.
Tailored executive education courses can also be beneficial. We know organizations that have taken management teams off-site to focus not on setting strategy but on deepening their understanding of how to be a strategist in their industries. A number of the executives in the discussion were surprised by how much value certain specialized intermediaries were capturing and others by how the organization was losing out to competitors that were financing retailers to hold their inventory.
The executive team emerged with a clearer appreciation of where the opportunities were in its industry and with ideas to capture them. Building this kind of industry understanding should be an ongoing process not just because we live in an era of more dynamic management 4 4. War games or other experiential exercises are one way executives can help themselves to look at their industry landscape from a new vantage point.
Expanding the group of executives engaged in strategic dialogue should boost the odds of identifying company or industry-disrupting changes that are just over the horizon—the sorts of changes that make or break companies. Consider, for example, technological disruption. So what to do? Some executives choose to spend a week or two visiting a technology hub, such as Silicon Valley, to meet companies, investors, and academics. Others ask a more technophile member of the team to keep abreast of the issues and brief them periodically.
The store visits brought home how modern mothers research their buying decisions, the interaction between mobile technology and store visits, and the importance of advertising a price-matching scheme to keep tech-savvy customers buying in stores. Nascent competitors are another easy-to-overlook source of disruption. Senior strategic thinkers are of course well aware of the need to keep an eye on the competition, and many companies have roles or teams focused on competitor intelligence.
However, in our experience, often too many resources—including mental energy—are devoted to following the activities of long-standing competitors rather than less conventional ones that may pose an equivalent or greater strategic threat. For example, suppose you are an executive at an oil company with assets in the UK Continental Shelf.
1. Drop the jargon
Know their hot-buttons: Executives focus on costs, returns, and trade-offs. However, if you bring questionable or confusing data to the meeting, it is possible you will lose an extremity.
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- 1. Drop the jargon!
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- 2. Become expert at identifying potential disrupters.
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Here's how you do it: Draw a circle in the center of a sheet of paper. This is your core message. It should be no longer than one or two sentences.
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The time invested now will pay dividends in your live presentation. Surround your core message with three or, at most, four additional circles. Fill these in with the primary data points that support your core message. This might be market research, customer feedback, competitor data, or your own projections.
If needed, go just one layer deeper and attach supporting data for the supporting data. Learn to use this message map in both directions. Describe your core message and supporting points, or describe a supporting point and connect it to your core message.
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The map works in both directions. Practice it like a politician preparing for a debate. Make certain your value proposition is tight.
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