Sunday, 20 March 2016

THE STRATEGY BEFORE THE BUSINESS ~ DR. JIMOH IBRAHIM, CFR

Barrister Dr. Jimoh Ibrahim, CFR
One of the major reasons businesses fail is lack of proper understanding of the strategic agenda of the business or the corporation. Today’s CEOs often do not articulate appropriate strategy for their businesses. They, more often than not, underestimate the importance of strategic thinking and knowledge. Regrettably, many CEOs have not attended even one single lecture on strategy. No university offers Strategy as a discipline. The subject may just be mentioned as a topic in one of the courses. Ask the teacher where he studied what he is teaching and he will tell you … In military schools for instance, we understand the subject is often mentioned and taught. However, we can only hope the teaching is current and based on current materials of international standards that can produce the desired results. The importance of Strategy cannot be overemphasized, for everybody needs strategy to succeed. Indeed, it appears that everyone’s assignment today is finding the appropriate strategy to maintain life. If one fails in life or business, it can be attributed to lack of good strategy.

It is not sufficient to find strategy. It is important to look for a good strategy to navigate very difficult situations or to get a pleasant life. What is Strategy? This is a question everyone thinks he has an answer to. But when you ask them to speak, they will tell you things like ‘Strategy is what I am doing,’ or ‘Strategy is to be clever,’ or vaguer still, ‘Strategy is strategy’! In one of my meetings with top management staff of one of our companies, I asked a senior manager to define ‘Strategy.’ He said ‘Strategy is something strategic’! Everybody was laughing. I asked him what his position was in the company. He told me he was the Head of Strategy Development. I asked the CEO to sack him. The CEO redeployed him as Deputy Regional Director! It sounds like promotion.

What do we do? Lord, help us! When the Head of Department of Strategy in a company cannot define Strategy and he is promoted to the position of Regional Director, despite the fact that the CEO is aware of his shortcoming, as well as the administration department that did the redeployment, how do you expect that company to move forward? This is another example of the challenge of inadequate knowledge of the subject known as Strategy. There is no way a company can move forward if it does not understand or have a strategy. The CEO of that company told me that the supposed Head of Department of Strategy Development has over 20 years of industry experience. To me, it is 20 years of spreading Ebola Management Virus (EMV) across different corporations.

I am doing a diagnostic review of the previous institutions where the officer worked before he joined our organisation. Preliminary report is regrettable. For example, one of the companies where he previously worked hardly breaks even, despite having been in existence for 60 years!

Strategy can be defined as: “The act of effective allocation of resources to achieve specific goals.” No one appears to have defined Strategy better than Professor Alfred Chandler, who defined Strategy as: “The determination of the long-term goals of an enterprise, the adoption of courses of action, and the allocation of resources for achieving these goals.” The key issues in the definition are ‘determination,’ ‘long term goals,’ ‘course of action,’ ‘allocation of resources,’ and ‘achieving these goals.’

Reflecting on those definition keys shows that if everything is available without determination, there is no need to get started, as we may not be able to achieve these goals. Little or some kind of determination will not lead anyone to achieving those goals. God the creator appears to have revealed to us through the Bible how much of such determination we need to achieve a goal. In Corinthians 9: 24-27, the Bible says: “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the price? So run, that ye may obtain.”

The questions to ask are: Are we running in a form that the run can achieve the goal? Will this determination currently in place ever lead us to our destination? We must not lose sight of the fact that we are not the only ones who want to achieve the goal, so our run or determination must be strong and resolute.

There is joy in the spirit of never giving up. The price is golden. Even the Creator attests to this in Galatians 6: 9. “….And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season, we will reap if we do not give up.” What management needs is continuous determination that is resolute to succeed. It is, however, important to note that determination may not produce immediate result. Determination must mature before it can produce the desired result. In strategic studies, we have located at least six key factors that can assist in sustaining the determination that is much needed to succeed in achieving these goals. We usually call them the ‘Six Ps of strategy.’ They are Plan, Position, Ploy, Pattern, Philosophy and Process. We do hear CEOs saying correspondingly: “We Plan to expand our business this year; our strategy is to Position ourselves for new acquisitions; we also Ploy to deter entry by aggressive take over; we Pattern our growth on the emerging markets; we shall pursue our Philosophy of customer first; and in the Process, we will do everything our stakeholders want us to do, for we count on their loyalty.” (National Mirror)