As a strategic insights expert I have seen a lot of organizations talk about strategy like this is the only thing senior executives are called to do when they sit in meetings behind closed doors for hours. At the end of these countless hours of meetings, arguments and deliberations, the real decisions end up being taken by just a hand full of senior executives who had pre-decided what direction the decisions will be anyway.
Strategy is the most overused word in existing multinationals and big businesses. In fact, strategy has become an aesthetic word for saying I am very busy thinking and not doing. The word ‘strategy’ according to my personal definition means ‘the best way to achieve set objectives’– which means taking the best option to ensure execution.
As an insights expert the most important part of delivering cutting edge strategy every time is through having insights as the foundation for strategic planning and delivery. Why? Insights have the ability to deliver powerful truths about a brand, its target, its competition and the environmental context in which it thrives. A valuable insight is second to none in helping to deliver clear strategic plans by helping to delineate foundational truths into clear outlines that are achievable and measured.
Lets us take as an example, a new venture business was interested in developing a line of new locally flavored ready to eat whole meal recipes that will develop a new category and set the pace for further development of more local food recipes that will eventually align with consumers’ yearning for healthier whole meals in variance to the consumption of non healthy fast foods. What will be the foundation for strategizing on how to enter the market as a new product?
In my opinion, the optimal approach will be- to first develop an insights-strategy-action approach as described by George Bradt– which involves; finding the insight; developing strategy or plans by basing them upon the most powerful truths garnered from research; and finally implementing outlined actions to achieve set objectives.
For most business owners and executives, the key to driving business or brand success is by immersing oneself in the total environmental framework of the market of focus. How? By understanding the targets’ social and cultural processes- [investigating the origins, and history of the target product or brand; the potential environment in which it will thrive; the profile (cultures, aspirations, behaviours, attitudes, motivations, and language) of potential consumers, in addition to uncovering challenges, tensions, needs (met/unmet) and perceptions of potential brand versus competition. Eventually every strategic plan or outline should be based on powerful stories that have the power to articulate a truth that has never been fully expressed. It is that phrase that brings to life the Aha! Moment – with the ability to create excitement for action.
Unfortunately, most brands and businesses fail to create this strong foundation for building their brand mainly due to the emotional belief that they know who they are. Often times the owner or CEO of the business believes he knows what the brand is all about and this belief is unknowingly cascaded through to the team- (which is a good thing) and this is what usually forms the basis of their strategic planning. One then finds that, rather than unearthing real insights, team members will be found operating on a surface level and this invariably impacts on the depth of work that goes into planning for the future or developing the story of the brand.
Eventually, insights should be able to provide the following in helping to plan strategically:
A good insight must be able to strategically help to answer the why, what, where, when and who around customers, collaborators, capabilities, competitors and conditions.
If what you have as insights is not answering all of these questions, then there is still more… Interested in finding someone to help with answers? Send us an email at [email protected]