Felix, Strategist “Strategy Safari”
My name is Felix, I accomplish my IMP-program at the department for strategic development of a German insurance company. My tasks are centered on assisting top-management with strategic issues. What does that mean?
The strategy of my company is mainly defined by top-executives during regularly held management retreats. These retreats touch upon a wide range of strategic questions such as “How should we price our products?” or “How do online portals as a new sales channel influence us?”. ‘Assisting with strategic issues’ means the answering of those questions.
My own first strategic question was “What kind of marketing activities do our competitors pursue and how does this influence the success and efficiency of our own activities”? To get an idea of the answer, I had to find a lot of internal and external information concerning for instance media spending or general price inflation rates. Next, I had to dig deep into the numbers. Having come up with numerous findings, I structured them and put them into a presentation. Me and my boss subsequently held feedback discussions during which we sharpened our findings and refined our presentation’s storyline in order to convince the firm’s board of directors.
During the whole process, the knowledge gained in the ZEBS-seminar on “Strategic Management Consulting” really helped me to do a good job. This seminar increased my understanding of what strategy is, of what it is not and of how important a stepwise, data-driven work approach is.
Eventually, the presentation that was handed in for the management retreat was very well received by the firm’s CEO and based on this presentation, a few cornerstones for a future marketing strategy were set.
‘Assisting with strategic issues’ can also mean to conceptualize and implement a KPI-system. In 2009, my company had launched a strategic test field and had not found a satisfying way of measuring and influencing the success of this strategic test. I was asked to develop a concept that would overcome those shortcomings.
One particular aspect of this task was that I had to deal with two different sets of people: On the one hand, there were top-managers who had a certain notion of how the success should be measured and what assumptions should be taken for granted. On the other hand, there were the employees who had to understand, accept and implement the new concept. Both groups had very different ways of thinking about the concept and communicating their related ideas. Moreover, different expectations and worries about how the new concept might influence each individual persisted.
The coaching I received by my ZEBS coachs right from the start of this task was of invaluable help. I could share my thoughts, ideas and worries concerning this task, but also concerning my personal life, with them. Based on their extensive experience, they would give me pieces of advice and show me new insights into the situations at hand. Thus, I was able to discern the aforementioned differences between the two groups of stakeholders of my task. The coaching made it clear to me that professionalism also means playing a “bridging” role and bringing together ideas of all participants.
In the end, a final version of the concept was agreed upon that met the demands of the managers and was understood and accepted by the employees.
To conclude, assisting top-management with strategic issues is a much diversified task and the ZEBS provides me with the tools and personality to accomplish it to the satisfaction of managers, my boss and myself.