A Strategy Director may seem like one of the stranger things you could add to your Board of Directors. After all, isn’t strategy the responsibility of the whole board? You’d be right to ask this, because it should be something that all of a business’ directors work on together.
A Strategy Director doesn’t take that responsibility away, and they don’t own strategy – the CEO does. No, the Strategy Director is there to own the process. This article looks at how this process works and some of the challenges that may arise along the way.
What is Strategy?
Your business’ strategy defines how you move forward. At its simplest, strategising is understanding where you want to go and the options that will get you there. After a strategy meeting, there should be a clear focus to communicate down the line so the whole company is on the same page.
It seems simple enough. You just need to decide on your objectives and then what to do. Except, there are some challenges that you may face if you don’t have experience in this area. When you own a scale-up, it’s likely you don’t have that experience yet.
Your process may not have involved anyone else before. It may be that things can’t work the way you’re used to anymore.
Common business challenges faced
There are three main challenges that you might need advice on, we’ll expand on this later:
1. Nailing the process
There are a lot of tools out there and if you tried all of them, you would never stop planning. Making the most of your time takes a skilled facilitator.
2. Resilient strategies
Businesses are made up of many teams that all have their own needs. Understanding all of them allows for long-term planning that stands up to change.
3. Keeping on track
Strategy is never truly done. It needs reviewing to make sure it’s working for you.
The role of a Strategy Director
As a business gets larger, a CEO should shift from working in the company to working on it. When you’re scaling up, it can be hard to take that step away, to know what you need to work on.
Having someone on the board that understands strategy helps you navigate this process smoothly and without any false starts.
1. Nailing the process with a strategic review
Experienced board members will tell you how useful it is to go into a strategy meeting with a clear purpose. You may find that not everyone agrees with you, that important aspects of your preferred strategy are missed because your team doesn’t have experience in that area, or that you get bogged down in the wrong details.
A Strategic Review is a dedicated sit down session with the Board where the Strategic Director can facilitate the development of a well-rounded business strategy. They will have a toolkit of techniques such as SWOT or MOST analysis, as well as knowing how best to implement them together.
By working through their tried and tested methods, they can help understand exactly what your business needs and how you will get there, culminating in something like a 100 day plan to kickstart your growth.
2. Creating a resilient long-term strategy
Once, it was not uncommon to discuss strategy with 10 year business plans. Nowadays, the world changes too quickly to stick rigidly to the same plan for a decade. Strategy needs to be adaptable for every part of your business.
Change is easier when you’ve done it before. There are patterns that can be approached in similar ways across the board. But, if you have limited experience in an area of your business, how can you know what approaches to take?
A Strategy Director can communicate with everyone on your senior leadership team to understand the opportunities and the issues relevant to their specialty. This allows them to build a growth strategy that every employee no matter the department can get behind.
3. Keeping on track by monitoring over time
Your Board is made up of very busy people. In a small business, many of them may be filling more than one role. There are a lot of direct responsibilities for their role and it’s easy to understand how their part in reviewing the strategy can slip from their mind.
When you have someone who owns the process, there is nothing to distract them from seeing it through. By working with the people key to your strategy, they can be there to keep things running smoothly. A Strategy Director can make sure your strategy is properly reviewed, and that you get the right recommendations to keep growth in line with your goals.
How can a Part-time Strategy Director help?
These are just a few ways you could benefit from having a Strategy Director. But, there is a problem. Executive Directors are a significant financial commitment and when you’re starting to scale up, your funding is going to struggle to stretch to a full-time executive salary.
A Part-time Strategy Director brings you all the skills and experience at a fraction of the cost and with no long-term commitment. Strategy is a process that lends itself especially well to part-time support.
They can be there to help you with your initial review, monitor progress, make sure strategy is returned to as often as is needed without being in the office every day. Whether they come in just for the main reviews or more regularly for closer monitoring, you can find a relationship that suits your business needs and budget.