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Unlike dogs, a business strategy isn’t for life, it can be just for Christmas

by uma
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By Mark Inskip, CEO, Matrix

Mark Inskip, CEO of Matrix draws on his extensive experience to discuss how business leaders can adopt a more inclusive team process when it comes to developing strategies. 

Having spent many years as a strategy consultant, I’ve written more than my  fair share of strategies – but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that your business strategy is only as good as the day you wrote it. And the more you involve the team in refining the strategy, the better and more long lasting it will be. Yes, it’s important to create a strategic framework which the team can work around, but unlike dogs, a business strategy isn’t for life, it can be just for Christmas.

Being really clear on the business purpose and aligning everyone in the team behind one goal sets a clear foundation that everyone can work from. On a practical level, that is what helps shape the business priorities. But what might be the right strategy to get you to where you want to be right now, it’s not simply a box ticking exercise that can be struck off the to do list, it’s an essential part of business that requires constant attention and iteration.

The role of the CEO is to set the strategic boundaries, perspectives and challenges around what we’re trying to achieve as a business and give the team the space and support in which to operate to be able to work on and deliver that strategy. As leaders, it’s important to challenge, coach, engage, support, console – whatever it may be – to ensure that the whole team is clear on what we’re trying to achieve strategically in the direction we’re all headed together, then the rest, as they say, is history as everything else should fall into place and look after itself.

When I joined Matrix in 2021 with a brief to lead the company on its next phase of investment and growth, I was in a fortunate position, having spent a reasonably long time as a reasonably good consultant in the strategy space, doing a lot of this for clients. I’m pretty clear on how to run a process and what needs to be done. Not every leader is in that position. I’ve spent long enough as a consultant to know that you do a piece of work, you print out your PowerPoint, get it signed off and then six times out of 10, the client would put it on the shelf never to be seen again, like the forgotten toy at Christmas!

Now, as the leader who determines the strategy for the business, I often ask: what good is my brain dump of what I think we need to do, if the people aren’t on board and behind it? I know the strategy is broadly right but there are always going to be other things that aren’t included in that strategy that we need to think about.

By adopting a more inclusive leadership approach that brings in other perspectives, we are much better placed to ensure that what I think we need to do matches up with what the team, clients and stakeholders think we need to do. And that requires constant iteration to revamp and review the strategy to understand if it’s working and what needs to change. But none of what should be explored strategically over these iterations shouldn’t link back to the purpose. If we’re all agreed and aligned on this, then that is what we are trying to achieve. 

What’s close to my heart is the ability of a clearly defined purpose to draw people together. I’m blessed to have a really great team both in terms of my direct reports, the wider leadership community and the wider organisation. Our next challenge will be how to harness the purpose and other things and find a way to really come together as a team to drive the business forward. I can’t do it on my own. The people in the company can’t do it individually on their own. The only thing we can do is to do it together.




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