What I Learned From Australia’s Best Strategists

What I Learned From Australia’s Best Strategists
SHARE
THIS



Holler’s Vlad Mehakovic got along to the Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) Summit where Australia’s best strategists gave an insight into their craft.

The overarching message of the event was that strategy in today’s uncertain and ever-changing business environment is complicated. It involves a multitude of moving parts and it’s often difficult to see the signal from the noise. Below are the five key themes I walked away from the summit with.

1. Execution over perfection

A strategy or idea is only ever as good as its execution. Many of the summit’s delegates discussed the methods they use get a strategy from a PowerPoint deck into the hands of their customers.

Facebook’s insight was to launch new ideas early and often, with a replicable test framework in place to identify ideas deserving of further investment. Woolworths discussed the concept of testing ideas by highlighting that testing alone is not enough; one must also have the resources to pour fuel the fire if the strategy is indeed successful.

Schneider Electric evaluated their continuous pipeline of projects, identifying three different project types that mapped to Gartner’s Hype Cycle (early stage product to mature product). They emphasised the importance classification plays in enabling alignment of appropriate resources and KPIs.

2. The customer at the heart

The customer has never been more important or fickle. The ever-evolving technology and media space has led to a world where the consumer moves faster than business. It is therefore critical that businesses pay close attention to the ever-changing needs of the customer and align their business accordingly. To paraphrase one of the summit’s speakers, “if consumers decide to shift, you need to go with them. An industry can’t hold people back”.

Woolworths opened the summit with a discussion on ways in which they met the needs of their most under and over-served customers. This resulted in innovations such as their in-store sushi restaurants, which fast became Australia’s top seller of sushi.

Increasing competition, costs and claims meant Australia’s biggest health insurer, Medibank Private needed to completely revise its strategy from passive payer to active player in health. In doing so, the company invested in creating tools and companies that productively manage health.

Atlantis Healthcare followed Medibank Private with a similar message from the pharmaceutical industry. Big pharma is finally moving away from the ‘blockbuster’ drug towards providing value throughout the entire value-chain. Rather than asking, ‘how do we get the most money out of this drug?’ pharma is now beginning to ask, ‘how do we get patients engaged while minimising costs to the system?’

Nike is using customer-led design to place strict adherence guidelines around how their products are experienced in the retail channel. Experiences are constructed around consumer segments (think running or skateboarding) to create deeper customer connections. For example, running shoes are presented within the context of a running outfit, while skateboard shoes are only available in stores that sell decks and tracks.

3. Less polish, more pragmatism

As a collective, businesses spend an inordinate amount of time packaging their idea or strategy. The focus is often on selling in the idea or strategy, rather than ensuring robustness of execution.

In order to overcome ‘group think’ at a board level, the Bank Of Queensland (BOQ) created a critical questioning framework to purposefully challenge their strategies. This encourages board members to ask the right questions in order to understand the strategy, rather than responding with knee-jerk reactions.

Commbank outlined the value of planning in strategy development, encouraging businesses to plan across a wide spectrum of success (from ‘well’ to ‘very poorly’) in order to understand the wider implications. Planning at the outset also eliminates the need to hastily formulate plans during times of stressful crisis.

Roy Hill, a $12B iron ore mining company discussed the relationship between strategy and risk. With $7B of debt on their books, they are a company well positioned to understand risk. They defined strategy as a fundamental balance between reward and risk; risk management helps to identify and remove ambiguity within a strategy. Roy Hill went as far to state that every company is uniquely positioned to handle a specific set of risks, which ultimately comprise that company’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP).

4. Understand how emotions effect our decisions

Smart people make bad business decisions all the time. Microsoft’s CEO shrugged off the iPhone when it launched. In 1975, Kodak invented the world’s first digital camera and then hid it from the world. Industry leaders are consistently challenged by an inability to act on or identify the forces happening within the vertical they dominate. This can be attributed to the fact that as humans, our decisions are driven in part by our emotions.

Commbank listed some of the biggest blunders in business history, asking “why did these catastrophes happen?” They suggested that it is the perspective of the parties involved that influences the ability to make the ‘right’ decision.

AMP Capital expanded Commbank’s theory by suggesting that strategic decisions are inherently riddled with cognitive bias. These psychological tendencies are mental shortcuts based on general rules of thumb that ultimately lead to error in judgment. Biases can also stem from making decisions based on ego, as opposed to rational thought. We carry a multitude of biases. Our biases include ‘confirmation bias’, where we accept only the evidence that confirms our opinion, rejecting anything that serves as contradiction. Biases can also be more nuanced, such as the ‘affect heuristic’, which is a mental shortcut where the current emotion being experienced by an individual influences their decision.

Both Commbank and AMP Capital discussed a similar set of tactics to overcome individual and organisational biases. The first step is awareness. Simply being aware and mindful of biases can go a long way to counteracting their influence. Beyond awareness, businesses can take more structured approaches: evaluating a checklist of biases during important decisions, or engaging an independent resource to explore the contrarian view to the strategy being deployed.

5. Change is a compounding constant

A dominant theme of the summit was change and the speed at which it occurs. Disruption was also mentioned, albeit overused, in almost every presentation. However it seemed that the key question on everyone’s mind was how to reliably manage the ever-changing environment surrounding business.

One of the most startling facts presented was the speed that the average company takes to join the S&P 500, the most powerful group of companies in the world. In 1957 it took on average 75 years, in 2003 it took 25 years, and in 2013 it took the average company around 10 years to go from fledgling to one of the most powerful companies in the world.

Partnership is a critical component in order to manage change. When creating their highly successful Self Managed Super Fund (SMSF), AMP partnered with Super IQ to play to both businesses’ strengths. Beyond the partnership, AMP carefully hedged their IT budget against change, “work out your costs, double it, add 20% and double it again”.

Both Curtain and Macquarie University discussed the fact that their business was in the biggest flux since the printing press. Evolving student expectations, Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and increasing costs of living meant that Australia’s third largest export needed to revisit their business practices. Their strategies included experimenting with MOOCs, personalising education through machine learning and developing close partnerships with private enterprise to offer specialist courses.

Vodafone is no stranger to change. Every 20 years the company needs to introduce a new generation of mobile telecommunications technology (think 2G, 3G, 4G). In order to offer this technology in a competitive timeframe, Vodafone needed to restructure how they evaluated technology and partnered with vendors to instigate their processes many years in advance.

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Lisa Wilkinson Spectacularly Jumps Ship To Rival Ten For Rumoured $2 Million A Year
  • Media

Lisa Wilkinson Spectacularly Jumps Ship To Rival Ten For Rumoured $2 Million A Year

Today host and (now former) face of Channel Nine, Lisa Wilkinson, has spectacularly quit the network to join rival Ten on a salary reported to being over $2 million a year. In what can only be described as a PR disaster for Nine and a serious coup for the embattled Ten Network, the 57-year-old Wilkinson […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Ogilvy Brisbane Bolsters Creative Department With Two Senior Hires
  • Marketing

Ogilvy Brisbane Bolsters Creative Department With Two Senior Hires

Ogilvy Brisbane has expanded its creative department with the appointment of Andy Geppert as head of art and Richard Taylor as creative director, effective immediately. Having previously held the roles of founding partner at Cummins&Partners, ECD at McCann, senior art director at Publicis and head of art at Clemenger Brisbane, Geppert (pictured above, third from […]

“Don’t Wait” Says Strong Girl Power Campaign From The Wall Street Journal
  • Campaigns

“Don’t Wait” Says Strong Girl Power Campaign From The Wall Street Journal

A new campaign by The Wall Street Journal argues good things come to those who don’t wait. The TVC for the American newspaper shows an impetuous young girl who’s in a hurry to get things done and is clearly aimed at trying to convert career-orientated Millennials into newspaper readers. Set to Frankie Valli’s You’re Ready Now […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Image lead story OOH Giant oOh!media Helps New Qantas Campaign Take Flight
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns
  • Media

OOH Giant oOh!media Helps New Qantas Campaign Take Flight

oOh!media’s expansion into content has delivered new revenue streams in excess of expectations, with the out-of-home (OOH) behemoth announcing a new integrated campaign with Qantas. The ‘Qantas Frequent Flyer 30 million Qantas Points Giveaway’ campaign draws on the native content expertise of Junkee Media (which oOh! acquired in 2016), oOh!’s unparalleled digital sign network and the […]

**FILE*** A Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010 file photo the Sydney Head Office of Network Ten in Pyrmont, Sydney. Network Ten's Wake Up program and its early, morning and late news will be axed from Friday. (AAP Image/Lee Besford) NO ARCHIVING
  • Media

Ten Confirms Lisa Wilkinson’s Recruitment In Media Statement

Network Ten has confirmed that it has pinched one of Australia’s most high profile TV personalities, Nine’s Lisa Wilkinson. In a statement to media, the embattled broadcaster said it was delighted to have snared such top talent from its arch-rival. You can read Ten’s statement in full below: Network Ten is delighted to announce that […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Kellogg’s Creates AR Halloween Trick Or Treat Experience Via Shazam & Orchard
  • Campaigns
  • Marketing
  • Technology

Kellogg’s Creates AR Halloween Trick Or Treat Experience Via Shazam & Orchard

Breakfast cereal manufacturer Kellogg’s has joined forces with Shazam and digital agency Orchard to deliver a first-of-its-kind augmented reality (AR) Halloween Trick or Treat experience for families. The campaign, which leverages Shazam’s visual recognition platform and recently-launched AR platform, sees Kellogg’s pilot the replacement of physical gifts in cereal packs with a digital experience that […]

BCM Puts The Energy Back Into Super With New Campaign
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

BCM Puts The Energy Back Into Super With New Campaign

Queensland-based national industry super fund Energy Super has unveiled a new campaign by independent creative agency BCM designed to get people to give a little extra thought to their super. Energy Super appointed BCM to handle its creative account earlier this year, and the campaign is the first step in the company’s new brand strategy […]

Nine Issues Statement Expressing “Disappointment” Over Lisa Wilkinson’s Departure
  • Media

Nine Issues Statement Expressing “Disappointment” Over Lisa Wilkinson’s Departure

Channel Nine CEO Hugh Marks has expressed his disappointment that the network was unable to come to an agreement with star Lisa Wilkison who spectacularly jumped to ship to rival Ten yesterday. Again, it appears an inability to agree on Wilkison’s contract was the undoing. As reported on B&T yesterday, it’s believed Wilkinson was on half […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
VMO Unveils Australia’s First Large-format Smart Billboard
  • Advertising

VMO Unveils Australia’s First Large-format Smart Billboard

Digital out-of-home provider, VMO, has just unveiled a large format digital outdoor billboard directly facing busy Surfers Paradise Boulevard. Significantly, it’s Australia’s first ‘smart’ outdoor screen – the only outdoor screen embedded with AMD (Audience Measurement Device) technology. AMD technology is used to measure audience engagement via VMO’s exclusive real-time audience measurement system DART (Digital-Outdoor […]

SMI Data: Footy Finals & Marriage Equality To Bring Agencies Love For September
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

SMI Data: Footy Finals & Marriage Equality To Bring Agencies Love For September

Australia’s media agency market looks set to emerge from the doldrums in September, with the Standard Media Index Agency data indicating the market will deliver its first growth in seven months once late Digital bookings are included at month end. So far this month the agency market is back only three per cent to $626.6 million, but once […]

Kraft Heinz Appoints Cummins&Partners As New Creative Agency
  • Advertising

Kraft Heinz Appoints Cummins&Partners As New Creative Agency

Kraft Heinz today confirmed the appointment of Cummins&Partners as its new Creative agency after an extensive pitch process. They will be responsible for brand strategy and integrated creative across the expanding Kraft Heinz portfolio including Kraft, Heinz and Golden Circle. A Kraft Heinz spokesperson said: “After an exhaustive search involving a competitive pitch, we have made […]

Aussies One Of The Most Mistrustful Of Brands Online Finds New Global Study
  • Marketing
  • Technology

Aussies One Of The Most Mistrustful Of Brands Online Finds New Global Study

Despite high levels of connectivity, brands face a struggle to connect with Australians via online channels, according to digital research firm Kantar TNS’s latest Connected Life research. Kantar TNS surveyed 70,000 people across 56 countries and conducted 104 in-depth interviews as part of the 2017 Connected Life study. The research explored consumer trust in brands […]

The Australian’s Music Editor Iain Shedden Dies At 60
  • Media

The Australian’s Music Editor Iain Shedden Dies At 60

Iain Shedden, the drummer from acclaimed punk band The Saints and music editor at The Australian, has died at the age of 60 the publication has reported. The cause of death has not been reported. Shedden joined The Australian in 1993 as a sub-editor and rose to be the title’s music editor. He also authored a number […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Cosmo Names Media Bachelor Of The Year
  • Marketing
  • Media

Cosmo Names Media Bachelor Of The Year

The most eligible man working in media, marketing and advertising has been revealed  when COSMOPOLITAN named Stephen O’Shea, ecosystem planning manager – Carat Sydney as the 2018 Media Bachelor of the Year. More than 2500 people voted online for their favourite contestant and Bauer Media general manager fashion, luxury and homes Fiorella Di Santo said […]

Zenith Report: Australian Smartphone Penetration To Reach 89% By 2019
  • Marketing
  • Media

Zenith Report: Australian Smartphone Penetration To Reach 89% By 2019

In 2018, 66 per cent of individuals in 52 key countries (see bottom of article) will own a smartphone, up from 63 per cent in 2017 and 58 per centin 2016, according to Zenith’s Mobile Advertising Forecasts 2017, published today. The rapid expansion of smartphone ownership across the world, which has transformed the way that advertisers communicate with […]

Patrick Delany (CEO, Fox Sports), Hugh Marks (CEO, Nine Entertainment Co), Miranda Devine (Columnist, News Corp), Michael Miller (Executive Chairman, News Corp Australasia), Grant Blackley (CEO & Managing Director, Southern Cross Austereo) at Radio Alive 2017
  • Media

Media Bosses Weigh In On Ten-CBS Deal

Do you enjoy articles featuring industry big-wigs? Well, it doesn't come much bigger and wiggier than this, we say.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Kantar TNS’ Ali Dexter Joins T Garage As Director Of Insights & Strategy
  • Marketing

Kantar TNS’ Ali Dexter Joins T Garage As Director Of Insights & Strategy

Melbourne-based market research consulting agency T Garage has announced the appointment of Ali Dexter as its director of insights and strategy. Dexter joins T Garage from Kantar TNS, where she was the director of its Qualitative division. Prior to that, Dexter held a number of senior roles at Kantar TNS in the US and Vietnam.  “After […]

XXXX on Tuesday, March 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Jeff Bottari/AP Images for Adobe)
  • Advertising

Adobe Releases Advertising Cloud App

Not one, but two Adobe announcements. The tech elves have been busy this week, not that we're inferring Adobe is Santa.

Facebook Updates Its VR Offering
  • Technology

Facebook Updates Its VR Offering

Do you loathe Facebook for nicking all the ad cash? Well, why not scream "A pox upon you Zuckerberg" while reading this.

InterContinental Perth City Centre Chooses Bonfire To Build Digital Strategy
  • Marketing

InterContinental Perth City Centre Chooses Bonfire To Build Digital Strategy

Luxury hotel InterContinental Perth City Centre is officially set to open this Sunday, and has already taken strides towards developing a comprehensive online search strategy with digital agency Bonfire. The investment reinforces the desire of the hotel to promote its luxury business facilities, which include corporate and bespoke event spaces designed for local, national and […]

Datalabs Announces New Hire And Promotion
  • Marketing

Datalabs Announces New Hire And Promotion

Aussie data visualisation and content marketing analytics agency Datalabs has announced the appointment of Marc de Chellis to run its business development, as well as the promotion of Cass Lilley to accounts and project manager. De Chellis (pictured above, second from the left) joins Datalabs from Launchpad App Development, where he held the role of […]

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Advertising

Inskin Grows Sydney Team With New Designer

Digital advertising provider Inskin, continues to expand its Sydney team, hiring Marc Gundesen as a junior digital designer. Gundesen (pictured above) brings a breadth of skills in web design, animation and account management, and will report to Inskin’s lead designer, Jay McCalla. He joins Inskin from Budgy Smuggler, where he worked as a graphic designer, […]

Agent99 PR Signs Finance Industry Thought Leader Vanessa Stoykov For TV Show Launch
  • Marketing

Agent99 PR Signs Finance Industry Thought Leader Vanessa Stoykov For TV Show Launch

Independent communications agency Agent99 Public Relations has welcomed respected founder of No More Practice Education and founder and CEO of Evolution Media Group, Vanessa Stoykov, to its client stable. Agent99 will be supporting the launch of her Learn from the Money Masters – The Investment Series show on Channel Nine. Stoykov has over two decades […]

Susie Porter & Jacki Weaver Lend Support To Young Filmmaker In Crowdfunding Campaign
  • Media

Susie Porter & Jacki Weaver Lend Support To Young Filmmaker In Crowdfunding Campaign

A new crowdfunded short film is shining the light on barriers for women filmmakers, thanks in part to Aussie actresses Susi Porter and Jackie Weaver. Starring Porter, Beverly explores a bizarre love triangle in middle-class suburbia. It is an unflinching coming-of-age comic drama exploring sexual awakening in the era of technology, and the universal yearning […]

March One Offers Free Ad Campaigns To Charities
  • Advertising

March One Offers Free Ad Campaigns To Charities

Indepedent ad agency March One is helping retail marketers deliver a social return on investment this season, offering free campaigns to charities with every retail campaign booked – including for this Christmas. With over 10 years background in retail design, working with FOXTEL, Virgin Mobile and Krispy Kreme, March One is also a specialist in […]