Let’s Talk Strategy! (May 2008)

As I look back over the last several newsletters that I have written, it occurred to me that my recent focus has been on “details” . . . spending, cost controls, etc. While this is certainly important, I wanted to spend some time talking about strategy. During May, I had the opportunity to take part in several great strategic discussions. One was presented by the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) at Washington University in St. Louis and was lead by Professor Anjan Thakor; the other was a chance meeting during the St. Louis Business Journal Top 150 Awards dinner.

Whatever the forum, you owe it to your business to get away from the day to day issues of running your company and focus on “the bigger picture”. There is an old saying: “Are you working on your business or in your business?” he distinction is important. Too often, business leaders find themselves so enmeshed in daily operations that they are not doing what they are really supposed to be doing . . . guiding the business.

Spending a day (or even better a week or more) focused solely on the strategy of your business can be a rewarding experience. This can be done either exclusively with members of your management team or (even better) during an event like the one I attended at Washington University. The advantage of attending an event is that there is an outside influence and course material that poses questions about various businesses (most of which we have read about) and gives you a chance to ask yourself similar questions about your business.

More importantly, there is likely to be a framework from which to have strategic discussions with your entire team at a later date. The framework presented at Washington University suggested that there are four strategic/cultural platforms. They are listed below along with a few words describing the focus areas for each:

• Collaborative: Integration, Empowerment and Teamwork
• Creative: Change Oriented and Externally Focused.
• Control: Standards and Metrics Based. Focus on Efficiency.
• Competitive: Speed, Financial Returns and Customer Need.

While no organization exclusively expresses only one characteristic (they all have some degrees from each of the four areas), most organizations have a dominant trait. While I can’t do justice to a full day seminar in such a short space, I wanted to present these ideas as “food for thought.”

Regardless of the way in which you choose to frame your strategic discussions, I would encourage every leadership team to invest the time to engage in strategic discussions that provide the opportunity to think differently about the business.

Finally, I want to close with a practical question. Does your finance leader help you think strategically? Rather than providing a page full of numbers, can they offer insightful thoughts about what the numbers mean? More importantly, can they take it to the next level and suggest actions that the company should take to improve its position in the marketplace? Your business both needs and deserves that kind of thinking!

If your business could benefit from fractional CFO services, I would welcome the chance to speak with you. Please give me a call at (314) 863-6637 or send an email to

your cash is flowing. know where.

Copyright @ 2008 Homza Consulting, Inc.

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