Expert View: 'Companies Need Strategic Versatility'

We spoke to Joff Sharpe, Head of Operations at British Land


Ahead of his presentation at the Chief Strategy Officer Summit in London this April 25&26, we spoke to Joff Sharpe, Head of Operations at British Land.

As Head of Operations, Joff is responsible for Technology, HR, Branding, Landlord Customer Services, and Communications at British Land Plc, which is the leading European investor and developer of premium commercial, retail, and residential real estate. Joff is also a Chairman at Broadgate Estate.

What are the main elements of a successful business strategy?

Strategies should explain the choices available, which particular choice appeals most and why. Too often business strategies give elaborate explanations of a particular course of action without acknowledging the alternatives.

What can companies do to adjust to the new climate of the global political and economic uncertainty?

Companies need strategic versatility, in terms of talent, technology, and other aspects of organizational flexibility. If they can only do one thing, well, they will be vulnerable.

How can organizations and startups benefit from each other?

Like Goya’s painting of Saturn, big companies have a habit of eating their own children, where 'intrapreneurial' ventures are concerned. The two entities should be intellectually curious and open to each other’s strengths whilst maintaining a polite distance.

Would it be right to say that risk management initiatives can kill innovation? Why?

Depends. When a soldier goes into action they manage every possible risk through training, equipment, and reconnaissance. But still, they go into combat, knowing that it will be dangerous. There’s a difference between risk management and risk avoidance.

How do you ensure your long term plans are reactive to disruption?

Disruption can create opportunity as well as a challenge. The most important thing is to have a clear vision of the problem you’re trying to solve with your product or service. As long as this problem remains relevant, it will be possible to adjust plans along the way and possibly, even harness disruption to your advantage. Once again, talent will be key.

What will you be discussing in your presentation at the Chief Strategy Officer Summit?

Britain’s SAS is a much talked about organization but, at its heart, it was designed to be a highly strategic, disruptive response to a complex problem - and that continues to be its raison d’etre. I will be describing the strategic thinking, leadership, and organization that has allowed it to maintain ultra-high performance in radically different war environments over time.

You can hear from Joff and other industry leaders at the Chief Strategy Officer Summit, taking place in London this April 25&26.

Strategy small

Read next:

Industry Insight: What Should Be At The Core Of Your Business Strategy