Mina is currently the Global Director of Content Strategy & Content Solutions at The Economist Group. We sat down with her ahead of her presentation at the Strategic Planning Innovation Summit.
What do you think are the main qualities of a successful strategy?
A good strategy should be:
- Clearly articulated and easy to understand. If it's too difficult to explain to people, they will struggle to get on board and deliver on their role in the plan's achievement.
- Achievable and based on your company's strengths. It's important to understand the world around you but more important to understand the white space that your company, specifically, can achieve. Otherwise, you risk expending both human and financial resources on what turns out to be a pipe-dream.
- Considering the values of the company and how they intersect with the outside world. Increasingly, people care about brand character and values, the stance a firm takes on social issues and the ethics in how they run their business. It's a smart move to consider this when building out your business plan because it has the potential to affect everything from supply chain to marketing.
- Measurable. Interim points of measurement help you determine if you need to adapt your plan or approach.
How do you think the role of a strategist is changing?
Increasingly, strategists cannot be the academics who live in the ivory tower of business. While business progressives talk a lot about failing early and often, business leaders still need to know that their strategies are executable. The best strategists understand execution and think about this when planning.
How important is flexibility when creating new strategies?
Our business environment is so fraught with change and complexity that everyone needs to be flexible. What should be pretty steadfast is the company's vision or objective; if you're constantly moving the target, people don't know what they are aiming for. Given market/industry conditions, the ways in which you achieve those goals - or the time to get there - may need to flex.
Have the attitudes of a new generation of workers affected how strategy is formulated or implemented?
I imagine that the increasing demand for transparency from employees has had an effect on how companies develop and implement their strategies. Certainly, this has to do with generational attitudes, but if you go back to something like the Enron scandal where a company's financial strategies and behaviors had a very direct impact on the well-being of their employees, I imagine this call for transparency and trust crosses generational lines. I think, perhaps, one of the biggest attitudinal changes affecting companies, especially established firms in long-standing industries like consulting and finance, is the fact that recruitment of the best business brains is no longer a given. Goldman Sachs and McKinsey, for example, are now competing with companies like Google, Facebook and promising start-ups for the top grads from the top schools. This affects recruitment strategies which are directly related to strategic planning.
What can delegates expect from your upcoming presentation at the Strategic Planning Innovation Summit?
The Economist Group recently launched Pride and Prejudice -- an issues-driven program that takes a look at the business and economic arguments for LGBT diversity and inclusion. As part of this program we have done research with our proprietary survey panel and also run a 3-city, 24-hour event featuring some of the strongest thought leaders in this space. Our research shows some interesting disconnects between the perceived importance of diversity in business and the perceived lack of impact it has on the bottom line. Additionally, as more and more companies have a global footprint or a global supply chain, the approach to diversity issues in countries that are on a different place in the social progress spectrum will rise to the fore. We hope to foster an ongoing global conversation on this topic.
You can hear more from Mina, along with other leading senior strategy executives, at the Strategic Planning Innovation Summit, taking place in San Francisco on May 18-19.