Susan Hamilton unlocks the beautiful paradox hidden in the boundaries that constrain us, whether physical, intellectual, or emotional, and reveals a few obstacles that have stimulated creativity.
At the moment, many of us are encountering more constraints than we have ever experienced in our lifetimes. Options and freedoms of all kinds are limited. Your summer vacation plans? Canceled. Back to school in the fall? Not so sure. Even a simple trip to the grocery store has become a somewhat complicated maneuver.
But there may yet be reason to rejoice. We might just be entering the most energized and accelerated period of innovation in recent history.
It may seem counter-intuitive that constraints spark innovation. It flies in the face of the traditional approach to strategy. With the classic SWOT analysis, for example, you identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats an organization faces in order to exploit the strengths and opportunities and mitigate the weaknesses and threats.
But those weaknesses and threats may, paradoxically, be what activate your imagination and unearth opportunity. Constraints encourage idea generation by applying focus and urgency to the task at hand. Through the lens of constraints, you can think about how your limitations can be turned to your advantage.
Artists do this when they choose to work exclusively within a particular structure or medium. Theodore Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) famously wrote Green Eggs and Ham after Random House founder Bennett Cerf bet him that he couldn’t write a children’s book with just 50 different words. Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein when she found herself trapped indoors during an unusually cold and stormy summer near Lake Geneva with nothing else to do.
Key points include:
- The Great Depression
- Video conferencing apps
- Core incompetencies
Read the full article, The Beauty of Constraints, on SusanMeierStudio.com.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Anushia Kandasamy with Samanea Asia Consulting. Anushia is a management consultant and senior leadership facilitator based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with 11 years of experience at McKinsey & Company. Anushia has extensive experience working with in the public sector, as well as with larger SMEs in Malaysia and Southeast Asia. She has also served United Nations agencies on Change Management and Leadership Development.
As a versatile problem-solver, Anushia works across a range of topics related to socio-economic development – and is especially adept at the intersection of government and business. She is also keen on capacity-building, having successfully supported senior leaders in larger SMEs on topics such as problem-solving, communications and managing change.
In addition to these topics, Anushia also conducts impact reviews, helps organisations to set up their business performance management and programme management practices.
From the archives of David Bernal’s company blog, timeless advice on how to build a competitive intelligence function that responds to business needs and informs an effective strategy.
Recently, I had a discussion with the VP of strategy for a major multinational retailer. Even a company with vast resources and highly capable management struggled with a common issue for top management: the lack of actionable, timely and relevant competitive information to make appropriate corporate strategy and performance-improvement decisions.
Many companies, like this one, have reams of data from multiple internal and external sources, but they lack the structure, focus and processes to turn that data into valuable insight to inform their strategy. Often there is too much data and little actionable information.
Relevant and timely insight can be the determining factor when making major strategy and implementation decisions affecting the direction and quality of multiple business activities including growth initiatives, new market entry, M&A strategy, pricing, product and technology roadmaps, JVs, partnerships, etc.
After spending years working with companies around the world to define, articulate and implement competitive insight programs to educate their business strategy, I have determined there are four key best practices that will help you and your team create a capable competitive intelligence function that not only responds to specific organizational needs and enhances decision making at multiple levels but that also can become a long-term source of competitive advantage in the future.
Four points included in this article are:
- Identifying the strategic context
- Comparing data with required insight
- Strategy > Structure > People > Process
- Testing and adjusting
Read the full article, Four best practices for building your internal competitive intelligence capabilities, on the Growth Decisions website.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Andrew Hone with Zenith Strategy Associates. Andrew Hone spent three years as a Principal in the Strategy and Private equity practices at Bain & Company. Prior to Bain, he was a Partner at L.E.K. Consulting, where he specialised in corporate strategy and private equity advisory services. For the last eight years he has been running his own consulting firm and operates across ANZ and the UK. He focuses on strategy development, performance improvement and transaction services.
Andrew is based in Sydney with his wife and two children and is a keen golfer. Andrew is happy to collaborate on projects across ANZ and the UK involving strategy development and implementation, cost reduction and performance improvement.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Zac Peake with Constratego Ltd. Zac Peake has broad consulting and corporate experience, with work that spans strategy development, growth planning, performance improvement, cost reduction, organisation design, and transformation / change for a mix of consumer and retail, financial services, and private equity clients.
Zac has worked at Booz & Company (Consumer and Retail practice), The Parthenon Group (commercial due diligence) as well as independent consulting. Zac’s previous corporate work includes roles as strategy director at Mitchells & Butlers and marketing / growth director at PE backed A-Plan Insurance.
Zac lives in Cambridgeshire, UK. In his free time Zac plays board and card games, listens to audio books and podcasts, snowboards, and strives to occasionally produce a half decent watercolour painting.