What is a Trusted Strategic Advisor?
Q: What does a trusted strategic advisor do for businesses?
A very good question that needs answering.
The strategy is all about making choices about the future and making long term decision that is best for the organisation and or the shareholders of the company. As a mentor and trusted strategic advisor to some of the top 100 FTSE leaders (stock market listed companies) I help to create, plan and sometimes execute game changing strategies that helps the organisation and its leaders in carving out opportunities and creating more value for their clients/customers which in turn allows the sustainability of growth for the future of the company.
This may involve creating niches within niches or sub-markets within markets to maximize value for the company and its customer by making product or service offers unique, hence providing much higher profit margins and long term sustainable growth of the company.
How does a strategic advisor assist the leaders in making the best possible choices for the future of a company?
Working with the leaders or board of directors of a company, all starts with understanding what it is that the team wants to see as the end goal in the near or distant future of the company and understanding the long term vision of the company as a whole. Each company will have a different remit depending on the size of the company and these could include:
* Short term cashflow,
* Long term customer attraction, building better pipelines,
* Short term or long term profits of an organisation,
* Market penetration for a brand,
* Customer churn,
* Overall profitability or brand profitability for a product/service,
* Brand visibility,
* Sustainable Growth,
* Building the right team to take on a project,
I could go on with an endless list but as stated it all depends on the size of the company, each company faces similar challenges at certain size of growth stages but in the end it all boils down to sales in one form or another and being able to stand out by being unique.
Something I teach at universities and entrepreneurs when travelling the world is to really understand who your customers are. It is amazing how many people don’t really understand their ideal target audiences well enough and hence are never able to target with a laser-focused message to market over and over again.
Once the ideal customer has been clarified by all, then the next stage is to take a good look under the hood at the engine and the performance, in other words, the metrics dashboards to check daily the performance of resultsversus the projected forecasts and finetune if needed.
Depending on the chain of command, it is important to have these goals and forecasts defined for each department and what their contribution is to the bigger picture this helps each department to understand and perform better. This is not only to conveythe clarity of the strategic goals to the leaders and the management team but may also mean making it clear for the shareholders too.
This is an important point here worth mentioning that the team should fully understand the Objectives, how and when to measure them and Value they add to the company in a simple way that can be understood and measured otherwise no one knows if the strategy is working or not.
In my four decades of working with leaders of organisations, I have found and seen first-hand strategy after strategy just filed away after spending hundreds of thousand or millions in some cases only to be found covered in dust, simply because no one understood how to implement them, they were too complicated.
I always make it my duty to go through the whole process of making sure the team are capable of carrying out the necessary steps to implement and achieve the results needed. In some cases, I even stay on with the team to implement through till fruition of results.
You can create strategies that look and sound fancy but can be practically implemented by the team of the company. At the end the team must be happy and capable of achieving the desired results or it will never work.
What do I get paid for as a strategic advisor?
With decades of first-hand experience working in the trenches with leaders, we get to work by gather the existing data that is already available from the company and look at the companies systems and processes to see if they are fully running at optimum levels or not and if not how best to optimize them with minimum costs and downsides.
Yes, there is resistance at times and pushbacks because no one likes change, but in order to improve what’s already working, changes have to be made and test for results until the desired outcomes are achieved. It is only then can we even consider creating new strategies to replace existing ones. Never easy but a must.
Creating or optimizing a strategy that is easy to implement
After the necessary finding from discussion and data exploring we can break down the systems and processes needed to implement the strategies that are needed by simplifying the whole structure into baby steps with a blueprint so that everyone within the team understand and the steps needed to be taken daily, weekly, monthly in order to achieve the end goals with the desired results needed for the company.
Risk with strategies
During the whole process, we highlight any areas that might be of high risk with the existing or new strategies and create monitoring processes to ensure the minimal downside risk is checked daily and evaluated until the risk no longer exists. Every strategy has an element of risk some more than others depending on how ambitious the client’s needs are and how much a risk the client is prepared to take on to achieve the end goal in the shortest time possible. Risk and rewards go hand in hand as we all know, but in some cases, risk can be totally eliminated.
The company management team?
You have to remember we are outside independent strategic advisors to the company with no vested interests in the company but to ensure it achieves the results it desires at the quickest and safest way with minimal downsides and maximum upsides at all times.
The aim is to work with the management team to create and help implement the necessary strategies needed to achieve the necessary objectives of the company and this can only be achieved by working together as a team side by side in some cases well after the initial strategy is devised. I would advise anyone in management to read Jim Collins book from Good to Great.
Strategists are very good at creating strategies but having a strategic advisor work with you to implement a strategy that has been devised with him and the management team is a must so the end goals can be achieved. This can only be achieved by the strategic advisor working side by side with the company’s management team in the trenches if needed until the results have been achieved. The strategic advisor can also act as a mentor to the management team if he or she has enough experience.
Unless the strategic advisor and the management team have enough trust with each other, nothing will work. So the first thing is to earn the trust of the team by being open to hearing their views, after all, they are the ones who run the company day in day out. Yes, there will be challenges for both the strategic advisor and the management team and yes there will be times when they don’t see eye to eye but these are challenges because no one likes change.
As the old saying goes, what got you here will not get you over there to the next level, so a different level of thinking and creation has to be applied and this is exactly who strategic advisors are brought in to help by seeing things from an outsiders view point and the decades of creating and implementing strategies for over 100 different industries and cross pollination of ideas to make it the most powerful strategy.
Both sides have to be prepared to roll up their sleeves to ensure the successful end results from start to finish.
I would love to say this is always a smooth process but then I would be telling you a load of B.S.
I am so pleased to be quoted amongst the top mentors and strategic advisor in the Sunday Times for publically listed companies. Over my decades of experience I have even taking a very conservative figure and cutting it in HALF, I have increased revenues in excess of £760 Million for my private clients. For that I am very grateful, I am not trying to impress you with the numbers but to impress upon you what successful strategies can achieve when working with the right strategic advisor as a team.
Take a look at the portfolio of corporate clients that I have worked with from simple consulting to creating super strategies that not only make 100’s million but saves 100’s million also. Again I am not trying to impress you but to impress upon you that these high results can be achieved by working with a trusted strategic advisor.
The world is getting smaller
With the internet and flights down in prices the world has become a global trading place, one day I can be sat with a client’s office in New York and a few days later I can be sat in Dubai,China or Europe because we have to go where our clients are with they expect of us.
In case you are still wondering if I only work in the UK, no I go where my clients take me to whatever country it may be around the world.
Never feel intimidated by reaching out for a call regardless of which country you might be in by dropping me a quick message to call you back for a conference call to talk about your opportunities and challenges.
More Advice & Support
At the end of the day, a strategy is only as good as the people who create them and the team that implements them. You can be the best strategist in the world with the best strategy in the world but unless you have the team onboard to be able to successfully implement the strategy it is nothing more than loads of papers with zero value until implemented with the right team in mind.
I personally always focus on the team and their capabilities of delivering results and break the strategy down to levels that every member of the team fully understands before handing over fully or stay until completion and see the results.
Re-Active mode V’s Pro-Active
I see way too many businesses playing the game of being reactive every day rather than being proactive to produce results of the super-rich leaders who are always in proactive mode 80% of their time daily in order to achieve more from each strategy.
Each and every successful leader is in the proactive mode, they know what they need to achieve each day and you can only do that by being focused on executing the strategies till completion for the super results needed.
Would really value any feedback on the above post or your comments.