"You don't have to be a movie director to know it's a bad movie"

As it is with strategy.

There are thousands of books on strategy: from Sun Tzu to Porter.  Richard Rumelt’s “Good Strategy/Bad Strategy” is a great read on how to build powerful action-orientated strategies – and it is from that book that our headline is drawn. Most of us have been given wonderful strategies at some stage, mostly wonderful because they left us wondering what were they thinking.

It’s easy to write a strategy that says you can reduce your costs by 10% by reducing everyone’s budget by 10%, and, yes, I’ve been the subject of the 100-page document from one of the big strategy companies that in essence said exactly that.  It was meaningless, with little chance of success, other than a disenchanted workforce and a sub-optimal business.

There is a plethora of toolkits and frameworks available online and in texts – many sourced from McKinsey, BCG, Harvard and so on. All of them are useful, in the right context. The context matters. A corporate strategy has little meaning for a public sector organisation. What market and the shape of competitors is moot. The strategy for managing an oil spill crisis is different and is developed in a different way than the one necessary to ensure supply chain reliance – or improve aged care outcomes – or reduce security clearance processing times.

But good strategies need just three things:

  • a clear description of the goal or outcome. As the cat said to Alice if you don’t know where you are going any path will get you there. To know where you are going you must understand where you are coming from That can take a deal of courage to face the problem honestly.
  • boundaries, limitations and influences over which you have little control.  Knowing where you cannot go is as important as knowing where you are going.
  • a plan – what will be
  • done by whom, when. The military has a saying that no plan survives first contact with the enemy. Be prepared to change!

There is no strategy without execution, and we are well known for our ability to deliver. Some of our case studies provide examples.

“Getting the job done” needs program and project management – but too often that focuses on compliance, reporting and consistency. Useful but not outcomes in themselves.

Sometimes the outcome is hard to describe, the pathways ill-formed and ambiguous.  Sometimes you don’t have control. Complicated problems are really simple problems on  scale.  Methodologies work. Repeatable, deterministic, and scalable.  Complex problems are more nuanced, the solution is hard to identify. You have to continually try, measure, and adapt. The path unfolds.

This is our business. Smart people, flexible and adaptable – with an open toolbox of processes, methodologies and theories. On a journey, measuring their effectiveness and moving on a journey with you.

This is strategic execution.


Our Projects

Facilitating complex decisions rapidly

The problem: Our public sector client had received advice, through an external review, that a critical piece of hazardous storage infrastructure was no longer safe to use. The recommendation was due, in part, to the natural decay of the facilities through underfunded maintenance, and a change in the local land use that had seen the surrounding […]

Gaining value in a commodity contract and deal negotiation

A government client sought to purchase telecomms services on behalf of itself and 50+ partner agencies, across 120 countries. When does a commodity contract become something more? Objective: To help the client clarify its evaluation process, prioritise its requirements, and negotiate a sustainable deal which would succeed for both parties over the long term. Kiah approach: Look […]

Sweating the asset – a public sector approach to allowing commercial use of a facility

The problem: Our public sector client operated a bulk fuels facility located alongside a public port. The facility, of several million litres, was a strategic facility for the client and provided a fuel reserve (in case commercial supply lines were interrupted). The client recognised that to continue operating the facility, would need specialist skills that were […]