How to create action and traction with top management on strategic analysis
Anyone in strategy or analysis probably recognizes this phenomena. You have crunched all the numbers you could reasonably find to do your analysis. You have made your slides even more persuasive than usual. You have worked until late. This time, your management team will surely act upon your thought-through recommendations.
Alas, the management decides differently. No matter how solid your analysis, it seems they either didnâ€™t understand or didnâ€™t want to understand it. They take a different decision from what you recommended them to. Why? The facts and conclusions were compelling enough. Or were they not?
Apparently, analysis needs to be more than good to be impactful. Quality attributes likeÂ timely,Â accurate andÂ completeÂ are important when deliveringÂ your strategic analysis to management. But apparently there is more. Too often I have seen high-grade market intelligence that was not being acted upon. This initially bewildered and later fascinated me. What was going on here?
I set out on aÂ voyage of discovery. The first insight that I discovered on the way was the relevance ofÂ acceptanceÂ of deliverables. Decision-makers not only need to buy your analysis cognitively, but also emotionally. It helps, for sure, when they first accept you and give you their credibility and trust.
The second insight was that trust does not come overnight. It needs to be earned. Trust develops when youÂ alwaysÂ haveÂ all the factsÂ you need â€“ and even more when your analysis delivers competitorÂ intentionsÂ so accurately that their next moves become predictable. You will thus be able to foresee their budget and strategic plans prior to them executing the actions you predicted.
On the basis of these insights I now operate a strategic analysis function which does three things in parallel:
- Collects and analyzes all the critical facts in a permanent and global process with an in-sourced tool as backbone.
- Reviews and periodically and pro-actively reports competitor intentions.
- Connects with decision-makers to ensure their needs drive our work.
Over time this function has spotted M&A targets, market opportunities and competitive threats so early that management could, and ultimately did, confidently act upon the analyses they were provided with.
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