Creating and executing a disruptive business strategy
“Learning without doing and doing without learning are equally as bad when it comes to disruptive strategy execution.” Jeff Lomey
Lewis Hamilton takes the chequered flag and wins the Formula One world championship, watched by millions of fans around the world and the rest of the Mercedes race team in the pits. The race has been decided by a margin of 0.2 seconds, not unusual in this sport.
Toto Wolff the team manager, starts to think about how much faster they can make the car go in the new season. He has to find a second or two, maybe even three seconds every season, year in and year out. His shareholders have sunk $500bn into next season’s budget. He has immense shareholder pressure, the need for consistent improvement in results.
He thinks about the new rules that will be introduced by Bernie Ecclestone and FIA as they do every year. He asks himself what technical disruption they will need to stay ahead of the competition. What can they reinvent in the aerodynamics of the car shape, the driver training and fitness programme, the energy harvesting braking technology? He has no choice. He must disrupt and outsmart his competition.
He very reluctantly allows his mind to think about his two drivers and who will replace them down the line or if one is, God forbid, injured.
My experience with clients in South Africa, Africa and globally, highlight the trend that shareholder demands for aggressive growth and profitability put severe pressure on C-suite executives to disrupt the market, execute their chosen strategy and build succession bench strength all at the same time.
The burning question for winning CEO’s is how can we do all three at once?
This series of articles explores the reasons for failure to execute strategy and suggests solutions for CEO’s who face the same three complex challenges that that Toto Wolff must overcome.
- producing consistent growth in shareholder returns
- disrupting the business while running the business
- developing executive bench strength
Winning through disruption and increased speed and quality of strategies executed
C-Suite executives confirm that strategy execution, let alone market disruption, is ineffective or inefficient or both, most of the time. Research shows that companies fail to execute strategy somewhere between sixty and seventy percent of attempts. These same executives say that around half of failures are due to C-Suite leadership behaviour as the determining factor4. The VUCA5 (volatile, unpredictable, complex, ambiguous) world world we live in, is by many accounts the single biggest challenge faced by companies today. South Africa and Africa are no exception. Implication: Leaders need support tools to understand the dynamics of market disruption, strategy execution and leadership action as a way to shape and drive implementation. Action learning is a proven approach for dealing with uncertainty and complexity and creating disruptive market solutions.
The raging war for talent – building C-Suite and senior leadership bench strength
Our clients report that particularly in South Africa and possibly more so Africa, the war for talent is raging and BBEEE candidates in South Africa are highly paid in short supply. Many companies are desperate to find, train and retain first level C-Suite executives and to develop the second tier next generation to follow in their footsteps. Implication: Building an internal talent pipeline is a fundamental weapon in this war. Action learning programmes have proven to be the most impactful approach for developing talent and executive networks quickly.
Pressure for returns on investment from leadership development programmes
Seventy five percent of South African company executives say that they cannot measure the returns on their leadership development programmes. They also say that the content of development programmes was not useful1. Pressure on costs, margins and profit makes executives reluctant to spend hard won cash on leadership development programmes which cannot measure some kind of return to the business and shareholders.
Implication: Leadership development initiatives must be completed in real time, by real people achieving real results. Content must reflect the real world. Measurable returns can be achieved.
Solution: Action learning teams have a proven track record of achieving such results. Some success stories will be discussed in future articles