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Strategy Consulting Needs To Change. Here’s How.


Strategy Consulting Needs To Change. Here’s How.

Strategy is a competitive advantage and the organizations that embrace it will survive, while those that do not will find their organizations facing possible acquisition. A firm’s strategy primarily develops plans to restructure unclear and vague situations to enhance competitive advantage. This article is set in place to inspire consultants to effectively develop and implement a corporate strategy to meet the challenges of today’s business world. It adds to a relatively small body of literature and develops our understanding of the direct contribution of management consulting in formulating and executing strategy in organizations.

This article also offers practical contributions for consultants from a broad-based, industry-wide concentration. It highlights the potential of the application of management consulting through illuminating how consultants can contribute to the company’s strategy development and execution. Scholars may also find that this article contributes to research on an organization’s internal resources, through articulating the impact of management consulting on corporate strategy.

The 4 Pillars of Corporate Strategy

Consultants can take a look at six aspects of strategic formulation based upon a prominent scholar by the name of Venkat Venkatraman:





-riskiness, and;


Consultants are aware that a few scholars, such as Francois Bergeron, Louis Raymond, and Suzanne Rivard, found that two strategic dimensions—-aggressiveness and riskiness, were separate and did not fall under the same strategic dimension as the other four. These scholars concluded that strategy mainly encompasses four aspects: analysis, pro-activeness, defensiveness, and futurity. Thus, riskiness and aggressiveness, or what I would prefer to call assertiveness, fall under the operational risk category and must be managed but also monitored due to fluctuations in the dynamic economic environment of today.

So how can you as a consultant use these four dimensions? Venkat Venkatraman provides a blueprint to follow:

-Analysis refers to the degree to which the roots of problems are analyzed to provide the best solutions, which ultimately results in a more efficient allocation of resources to solve problems and also achieve organizational goals.

-Pro-activeness is defined as the extent to which a firm continuously searches for emerging opportunities in its business environment, and then actively participates in these opportunities by responding to changing trends.

-Defensiveness, which recommends undertaking defensive behaviors that manifest themselves in enhancing efficiency and in cutting costs while maintaining continuous budget-analysis and break-even points.

-Futurity is reflected in the degree to which the strategic decision-making process takes a two-way approach—-an emphasis on both long-term effectiveness and shorter-term efficiency concurrently.

Consultants need to know how they can help in managerial decision making and planning and executing strategy. To help consultants narrow the gaps, this next section provides a formalized application that can be implemented by consultants when implementing corporate strategy in companies.

Leveraging the Power of a Strategic Approach in Companies

When consultants analyze strategy, they aim to create more knowledge and find the best solution using a problematic search of various options. The type of strategy stimulates organizations to apply information systems in their decision-making processes in order to investigate various alternatives and options. It is also important for consultants to provide a high degree of freedom for employees to explore their own new ideas and solutions to organizational opportunities while solving problems. They can analyze strategic milestones to meet the goals of the employee’s intellectual stimulation and personal development. This provides new and more innovative solutions for organizational problems as they arise. Furthermore, consultants can inculcate human capital into social capital to exert change at the organizational level. To develop this strategy, consultants can particularly contribute to the development of a workplace in which there is/are:

1. Emphasis on effective coordination among different functional areas.

2. Extensive use of information systems to support decision making.

3. Comprehensive analysis undertaken when confronted with an important decision.

4. Use of planning techniques.

5. Effective deployment of management information and control systems.

6. Use of manpower planning and performance appraisal of senior managers.

Consultants can also develop a futurity strategy to implement a series of basic research aimed at developing a more comprehensive vision for the future by incorporating upcoming trends in the business environment. They use futurity to expand the growth opportunities available to organizations that may be challenging but important to close the gap between success and failure. To create a futurity strategy, consultants can contribute to the development of a workplace in which there is/are:

1. Specific criteria used for resource allocation which generally reflect short-term considerations.

2. Emphasis on basic research to provide us with a competitive edge for the future.

3. Key indicators of operations forecasted.

4. Formal tracking of significant and general trends.

5. Regular analyses of critical issues.

Furthermore, consultants can develop relationships and interactions to provide valuable resources for the organization as a whole. They must also take an offensive approach at times and in this case, they employ a defensive strategy. A defensive strategy utilizes modifications in order to efficiently and effectively use organizational resources, decrease costs, and control operational risk. To foster this strategy, consultants can particularly contribute to the development of a workplace in which there is/are:

1. Regular modifications to the manufacturing/service technology.

2. Use cost control systems for monitoring performance.

3. Use of current management techniques to ensure that we move smoothly at the required level.

4. Emphasis on product/service quality through the use of work improvement teams.

Pro-activeness is a strategy element used by consultants who take a proactive approach to search for better positions in the business environment. In this case, consultants can inspire employees to find better opportunities and solutions to problems. Thus, consultants positively contribute to pro-activeness strategy by setting highly desired expectations and providing a suitable situation for employees to identify new opportunities. To cultivate a pro-activeness strategy, consultants can contribute to the development of a workplace in which there is/are:

1. Constant search for new opportunities.

2. Attempt to introduce new brands or products in the market.

3. Constant search for businesses that can be acquired.

4. More effective expansion of capacities when compared to our competitors.

5. Strategic elimination of those operations that are no longer profitable in later stages of life cycles.

In Conclusion

This article raises vital questions as to how consultants can successfully develop and implement a corporate strategy in companies. Therefore, I suggest that consultants can positively affect the company’s strategy formulation and execution. This managerial implementation improves both competitive advantages and enhances the time and efficiency of task significance leading to satisfied followers who take better care of stakeholders. This finding indicates that consultants can build a suitable workplace for better implementing corporate strategy through facilitating the four strategic aspects of analysis, pro-activeness, defensiveness, and futurity. Consultants can now see how they can cultivate an effective corporate strategy, which will enable superior performance for companies.


Mostafa Sayyadi works with senior business leaders to effectively develop innovation in companies and helps companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders. He is a business book author and a long-time contributor to business publications and his work has been featured in top-flight business publications.

References Used

Bergeron, F., Raymond, L., & Rivard, S. (2004). Ideal patterns of strategic alignment and business performance. Information & management, vol. 41, no. 8, pp. 1003-1020.

Venkatraman, N. (1989). Strategic orientation of business enterprises: the construct, dimensionality, and measurement. Management Science, vol. 35, no. 8, pp. 942-962.



How to Get a Handle on Risk in Uncertain Times: 10 Important Considerations

Risk: It’s the operative word on everyone’s mind right now. Whether it’s COVID-19 or oil prices, supply chain impacts or financial market concerns, understanding the impact of macro and micro-events, assessing their impact and putting in place the right action plans to mitigate that risk as best as possible is the priority task at hand.

Here we’ll examine ten steps to consider to ensure you’re being as thoughtful and rigorous as possible in your response to risk.

1. Take Care of Your PeopleHopefully, this has already been priority number one for your business after the past few weeks. How do we safeguard our people? How do we handle work from home – voluntary versus mandatory? What other flexible resourcing options do we provide – from sick leave to absenteeism considerations? What are the IT implications and subsequent human resource and capacity management concerns we need to consider and fully factor in? Err on the side of caution. Better to be safe than sorry.

2. Analyze Internal Risks – Before you can do that, you need to galvanize the right teams to be able to understand, assess and action against those risks. It’s critical to build the right cross-functional teams to be able to look at, and understand, the relevant issues to consider. This will involve finance, R&D (depending on your business) and marketing and sales. It will also involve teams like quality and sustainability leaders, as there will be implications and follow on ramifications despite your very best efforts.

3. Conduct Scenario Analyses – For critical categories, it’s important to get a handle on what alternative demand/supply options are. What are the pessimistic versus expected versus optimistic cases depending on what happens with the current situation, both in terms of the pandemic but also in terms of current and expected economic conditions? As part of any such assessment, you’ll need to score, assign probabilities and weights and adjust your thinking and actions accordingly.

4. Talk to Customers –This doesn’t tend to be the first thing people think about when it comes to procurement, but understanding the demand side implications for your business will be essential. How will demand be disrupted? Will there be specific products in your portfolio that will be more directly or severely impacted? Will this result in demand cutbacks or surges? Where will you source supply from? Can you cut back supply needs for others? How will buying patterns change – will there be channel shifts from offline to online? How does that play out in terms of critical suppliers and critical buys and requirements in the near to medium terms? Maintaining a dialogue with customers to understand their needs and issues and where all of this plays through for your team is essential.

5. Develop Plans for Strategic Categories –You’ll need to revisit your plans and the related risks around your most critical categories during a time of crisis. Make sure that these plans have been reviewed, the pressure points tested, the risk points analyzed and alternative plans considered. This could mean enhancing inventory levels (and rethinking inventory buffers based on the scenario planning we talked about earlier), assessing implications for delivery performance, gaining a view of multi-tiered supplier performance, increased inbound category visibility and more.

6. Examine Logistics Implications – By the same token, businesses must assess the logistics implications both inbound and outbound, either to make products or to ensure delivery. This has cost and timeline implications. All modes of transportation can be seen to be impacted, not least of which is shipping impacts – especially to and from China, but elsewhere, as well – whether these impacts are halts on movements, ramp downs, or the subsequently phased ramp back up. Or bypassing some of these options and going to airfreight which presents another level of cost to timeline tradeoffs.

7. Assess Liquidity – This will be critical and will call for a stronger partnership and alliance with finance. Looking at cash positions, assessing payables, and of course extending that into receivables, etc. will be essential. Add to this, talk of tightening credit markets and this makes it all the more important. Cash as always will be king if we need to endure near term instabilities, revenue disruptions, supply chain impacts, sourcing problems, and more

8. Assess Supplier Health – Part and parcel to all of this is assessing supplier health and evaluating who will be the most impacted. A clear view of your supplier segments – strategic versus mid-tier versus everyone else – is essential so you can focus your time and analysis accordingly.

For the most strategic suppliers, it’s critical to have a multi-tiered view of their supply base and related dependencies so you can adequately assess their performance and supply chain bottlenecks. This will involve structured risk analyses – looking across multiple variables beyond financials, to operational performance, to industry performance factors, to geographic and locational concerns and more. You’ll also need to identify alternate supply sources to shift production as and where needed, and as quickly as possible. Not all of this can be done at a moment’s notice. Some of it should have been done as part of a prior risk assessment exercise.

9. Think Ahead – Businesses can’t afford to simply think about today. Consider what the next three to six months look like. This is where scenario planning comes into play. It is critical to assess not only how you can react now but also how to prepare for eventualities later, when things are either fully back to normal or in some altered state based on longer-lasting ramifications from the events of today.

10. Work With Facts and Manage Emotion – Fundamentally, the most important thing you can do is to continuously monitor changes in a structured fashion. Have a programmed information collection and analysis mechanism. If we accept that the crisis is still unfolding and that the true impacts from a supply chain disruption perspective may not reveal themselves for months, we need to take tangible steps.  This can be done by establishing a process to monitor other regions outside the infected areas that could be impacted. Are ports outside the infected areas being impacted through disruption or through new regulations to protect against transmission of the virus?  Are suppliers struggling financially without access to the Chinese markets, jeopardizing their viability? Data will be important but data converted to relevant insight for your specific supply chain situation will be essential.


Omer Abdullah is Co-founder and Managing Director of The Smart Cube and is responsible for managing the company’s Americas business.Omer has more than 25 years of management consulting, global corporate and industry experience across North America, Europe and Asia.

Prior roles include A.T. Kearney (North America), Warner Lambert (USA) and The Perrier Group (Asia-Pacific). Omer has an MBA from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, USA and a BBA from the University of East Asia.