Is Strategy a 4 Letter Word?

By Kevin Lyons
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Kevin Lyons

Kevin Lyons

Kevin Lyons serves as BlueSky's Chief Strategy Officer. Kevin is a growth-minded executive who overcomes complex business challenges by matching customer unmet needs and team member strengths. Kevin uses innovative solutions, based on solid judgement, strong work ethic, and integrity to provide strategic consulting to our clients.
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Is Strategy a 4 Letter Word?

Business Process Operations and Strategy Can Be One And The Same


My business is strategy.  I talk to prospective, past, and current clients nearly every day about it.  Most of the time, I am met with open ears and minds about delving into planning for the future.  However, I talk to a healthy number of people who resist.  I started exploring this conversation with some of my most trusted colleagues and clients lately.  The responses are always the same:  “It’s not you.  It is the industry (of Strategic Consulting).”

The Stigma of Strategy

Do not get me wrong.  The industry is not a bad one.  However, many organizations mentally picture a heavy, expensive engagement full of charts, visuals, statistics, and forecasts.  They imagine experts who pontificate a future with little regard to executing this vision.  Today in the pandemic era, many types of organizations have witnessed some healthy growth and do not want to “fix what isn’t broken”.   There is danger in only transforming when things are broken and not understanding when things are going “abnormally” well.  Some get comfortable in the status quo to even think so long term.  Strategy does not have to take a long time, in a place far, far away.  Strategy does not have to be rigid or even expensive.  It caused me to pause and think, “What if we did not concentrate so much on the word, but on the methodology?”.  What is strategy really?  It is a planning system with key goals and measures that are supported with actions.  In other words, it is for the business to achieve results with a well-defined process for their operations.   

BPO Squared

While the concept of BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) has been around since the early 20th century (a great example is Coca-Cola outsourcing its bottling to other countries), the term and the industry saw a great boom in the 1990s.  What grew out of back-office or logistics and customer service business units has evolved into something more today in the technology age.  In today’s world, “outsourcing” can have its own stigma. Still, every organization sees value in placing some part of their business in the hands of experts that perform key functions outside the company’s core competencies.  So how does this relate to strategy exactly?

1. Emphasizing the B and not just the IT

It is true that today, BPO is often associated with the technology world.  Remember, however, that the first word is BUSINESS.  When we use this in terms of planning, we think of it as everything related to running an organization.  

2. The Second O

Outsourcing, as mentioned previously, is a necessary function of large and small companies.  Consultancies exist because of this very reason.  The roots of BPO came from how a company performed everyday OPERATIONS.   So think of partnering with experts in strategy as OUTSOURCING BUSINESS PROCESSES FOR YOUR OPERATION.  BPO2

How To Know If You Need BPO2

There are some key considerations or trigger points when considering if your organization is in need of strategic expertise.  Think of these as a “Top 10 List” of behaviors in non-strategic organizations.

  1. Constantly changing requirements in one project
  2. Assign multiple owners to one item
  3. Always focus on the now
  4. Can’t make even the most simple decision without pulling the top person or people in
  5. Pick solutions and cannot articulate the process
  6. Operating with long task lists and no prioritization
  7. Don’t have a target customer – cater to everyone
  8. Can’t pinpoint competition, or decide to copy/follow in nearly everything
  9. Size of organization, key roles, and talent does not match the output of operations
  10. Goals are not well articulated when asked or lack real data

Next Steps

Don’t think of engaging a consultancy on “Strategy” but more about helping you do some of the heavy liftings around the business’s processes for key operations.  By reframing the mind to a more operationally concentrated effort, it may make it more palatable to get the team on the right track.  Outstanding consultants in this space have respect and knowledge of operations, which makes springboarding to technical, marketing, or even organizational objectives more succinct and effective.  If there is a vetting process for these engagements like there is for other investments in outsourcing, a company can find the right partner.  If you are searching for a way to better operate your organization, reach out to BlueSky Commerce.  Our approach to planning is about operational excellence with the right mix of technology, marketing, and talent to achieve your results.

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