| 8 min
We have heard it and seen it so many times before. A reputable strategy firm rolls into a company’s offices for a few weeks, data and information requests start flying, conference rooms are reserved and leadership pays frequent visits to the embedded team. You may even have people looking over the shoulders of the embedded team members to try and get a sense of what is going on.
Then just like that, the strategy firm’s work is completed, they return to where they came from, and just a few members of a leadership team are left with ‘the deliverable’.
It is perhaps a strategy consultant’s worst nightmare if, after they have completed their work, their report is left on the shelf, shoved in a drawer, or simply checked-off as ‘Completed’ on a broader list of action items and largely disregarded.
It is perhaps worse, if the perception that people are left with was that the consulting team “did a great job of creating some really fancy charts out of information we already had” or “started out really insightful, but ended up just telling us what we already knew.”
A good strategy consultant’s ultimate goal is to leave a lasting positive mark on the organizations that they support and a key tool to ensuring that happens is the development of a powerful, actionable report.
At Cipher, analyses and recommendations communicated via a report (typically a market analysis, competitive analysis, strategic plan, and the like) are at the core to what we do. Based on years of fine-tuning, we think we have come up with a pretty good answer to “What makes a good strategy engagement?”.
In our ship analogy, the strategic plan is to the strategy consultant what the voyage plan is to the Captain of the ship. It contains the mission critical information the Captain (or CEO in a business case) needs to plan his voyage. Just as the Captain will need updates to the weather forecast during the voyage, and intelligence reports of other ships in the area, you will need updates to your strategic plan as the market conditions change. Checking the box to complete the plan and throwing it in a drawer to collect dust doesn’t help you improve your strategy and you are unlikely to see any positive results without taking the appropriate action.
That said, not all strategic plans are created equal. A strategic plan is a quality product if it highlights critical, easily discernible findings that play a role in a key investment decision and/or strategic path forward. If a report is delivered and is not a part of these discussions, it is not a quality product.
A good strategy report will deliver conclusive answers to each of these questions.
If you are considering whether or not you need a Strategy Consultant to support an internal initiative or perhaps you have purchased services in the past that resulted in a strategy report as the deliverable, take a look at the “Five F’s” that we live by at Cipher. They are a good tool to determine if you are getting quality from the providers supporting your most significant strategic decisions.
Derek Heiss is the Director of Cipher’s Consulting Practice and is specialized in competitive intelligence and market strategy consulting. Cipher is a consulting and technology firm, based in Annapolis, with a 20+ year track record of delivering solutions to the Fortune 500 and Global 1,000.