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AdminJul 03, 20247 min read

Prepare for Business Success with UDSS’ Strategic Consultancy services

The most successful organisations make strategic thinking part of their routine - it’s the only way to stay future-focused, truly agile and able to tackle potential problems before they materialise. The future and business futures are unpredictable - but that can be overcome by deeply-informed, properly structured strategic thinking with intent.

However, many organisations don’t have a clear or habitual strategic approach, reducing their chances of success and leaving leadership to manage rather than excel. This may keep an enterprise’s wheels turning, but may not keep staff motivated, reveal new opportunities nor allow the company to progress.

This is where strategy consultancies such as UDSS come in. UDSS provides world-class strategy and leadership cultivation services leveraging our network of consummate experts, including Craig Lawrence, author of acclaimed strategy book ‘The Quick Guide to Effective Strategy’.

By identifying your business’ key drivers and areas for improvement, refocusing your leadership thought processes and helping you identify opportunities within your organisation and operational sector, strategic consultants will help to bridge the gap between functioning and succeeding. Learn how UDSS’ strategic services can help your business here.

Here we’ll define what strategic thinking is, why it’s crucial to your business, and essential methodologies involved in achieving it.

What is strategic thinking?

Strategic thinking means shifting your focus from what’s happening within your organisation to what’s happening around it - now and in the immediate future.

Using strategic thinking, an effective organisation will try to identify opportunities it could exploit as its environment changes, alongside obstacles it will need to overcome to stay successful.

According to the Harvard Business Review, “When you think strategically, you lift your head above your day-to-day work and consider the larger environment in which you’re operating.”
Strategy author Max McKeown expands on this: “Becoming a strategic thinker is about opening your mind to possibilities”.

This important aspect of good strategic thinking helps us envision the future realistically. Of course, the future is too unpredictable to ensure our expectations are met - which is why It’s healthy to formulate multiple alternate possible futures. Each could present opportunities or obstacles you’ll need to deal with effectively.

What does successful leadership look like?

By engaging in truly effective thinking in a structured way on a regular basis, your senior team will evolve to seamlessly predict and guide your organisation through unfolding and future strategic challenges.

A leadership team that can consciously adjust its mindsets, focus and overall approach positions itself to excel in constantly changing business environments. Company leaders who nurture and develop their decision-making agility and planning versatility create greater trust in staff and stakeholders alike, inspiring greater productivity, proactiveness and pride.

The importance of strategic thinking

Strategic thinking helps your organisation identify previously unrecognised opportunities, and more potential obstacles before they materialise.

This enables better advance preparation for positive and negative situations, allowing you to start doing things now that shape the potential futures you’ve mapped out - which increases the likelihood of a beneficial outcome or at least, a reduced crisis. As McKeown reiterates, “becoming a strategist is about getting better at shaping events”.

It’s this commitment to strategy that spells the difference between a business that’s coping, and a business that’s thriving. So how do we know our strategy is good?

Great strategic thinking - the Amazon example

“Good strategy should aim to “create more favourable future outcomes than might otherwise exist if left to chance or the hands of others,” said Harry Yarger, author of the seminal ‘The Little Book on Big Strategy’.

What this means is that as your organisation improves its strategic thinking, it strengthens and refines its opportunity/obstacle identification and exploitation skills. Consequently, its chances of materialising opportunities increase.

Amazon engineer Charlie Ward designed the now-ubiquitous Amazon Prime service in 2005 based on research that Amazon’s customers were more concerned with time than price.

While they hadn’t requested an ultra-fast delivery window from Amazon, but by preempting opportunities and predicting likely challenges, the company created a future wherein 200 million customers made them a leading global subscription service.

This is a great case for recognising opportunities - but by applying this approach to threat mitigation, organisations who consider future scenarios and related challenges will be in a better position to overcome them or create a future where they don’t materialise.

How do we think strategically?

Effective strategic thinking involves trying to understand potential futures and prioritise which to focus on. As per strategist Joseph Voros’ model, alternative futures can be labelled as ‘Projected’, ‘Probable’, ‘Plausible’, ‘Preferable’, ‘Possible’ and ‘Preposterous’.

We can improve our understanding of potential environmental shifts by describing what each of these ‘futures’ might come to look like within a projected time period. Of course, this process needs to be based on a solid understanding of local and global conditions affecting your organisation’s sector. The process is ongoing and needs to stay agile.

A step by step process

First, consider the megatrends shaping the world at large. These will impact your sector to greater or lesser degrees, and need constant monitoring as they will broadly affect your strategy and future planning.

Next, actively seek out information on trends directly affecting the sector by using all available channels. Once you’ve gathered enough information and achieved sufficient understanding, scenario planning will help you describe potential alternative futures relating to your organisation. Ask what does the most probable future look like?

Filter your response by considering ‘political’, ‘economic’, ‘social’, ‘technological’, ‘legal’ and ‘environmental’ factors and how trends and changes you’ve identified will relate to each, and how they will shape your sector.

For example, governmental decisions may affect businesses and public services on financial and practical levels, as well as influencing public mood and discourse. Once you have enough information about this situation, consider the consequent opportunities and obstacles that might develop in terms of each factor as it relates to your organisation.

Ask how likely are these to occur, how they might vary and how this can be leveraged or prepared against? Which stakeholders can affect your business environment and do they represent opportunities (collaboration) or obstacles (opposition)? What is the potential impact of each likely sub-scenario?

All this information can then be used to frame and actualise your desired endstate, so you can prioritise your goals and actions.

The benefits of a well-formed strategy

This method, followed closely and in detail, will position you to develop a successful organisational strategy that consciously exploits identified opportunities and manages projected threats. By pre-formulating as many scenarios as possible, you also shape a future with more controllable variables toward desired outcomes.

Habitually develop real contingencies for ‘plausible’ and ‘possible’ futures, not just the ‘probable’. Similarly, stay alert to developments and maintain an adaptive stance with how you carry out your strategy. Considering how unpredictable the future is, this is a healthy approach toward ultimate success - and is a hallmark of all truly effective organisations.

Continually set time aside for strategic thinking to keep your organisation and approaches as strong and supple as they can be.

Why work with a strategy consultancy?

Achieving the ideal strategic approach and environment isn’t easy, even if our explanation breaks down the principles of strategic thinking simply. Depending on the state of your organisation and how long you’ve been in business, you may need an disciplined external viewpoint and specialist knowledge to structure your new strategic approach.

UDSS is composed of leading Military and ex-Military figures whose unequalled expertise equips them to advise on strategy and policy at Parliamentary, defence and senior stakeholder level.

The advantage of employing Military-based expertise is clear - the UK Military is known for its visionary approach and is pivotal in strategically directing HM Government. UDSS’ bespoke courses collate considerable strategic wisdom geared towards your specific goals - completely customised to your company’s needs, they’ve been trusted by front-running by military, government, and industry frontrunners from over 55 nations.

UDSS are committed to creating a partnership rather than just a service, using robust theoretical grounding and peerless practical experience to steer you toward competitive advantage and long-term success.

Email to find out more about UDSS’ world-class leadership, executive education and strategy solutions - or book a consultation today to find out how we can overhaul your strategic process and drive real, lasting results for your business.

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