Your business’s strategy – why external input is important

Chris Disspain is the Director of TBC’s non-legal services including advice on strategy, government relations, cybersecurity and crisis management. Here he explains the role of independent input into your business’s strategic planning.

TBC offers businesses an opportunity to take stock, test assumptions, clarify goals and refine strategy to ensure they are ready for the next step in their journey to success. How?

A fish can’t see water –

Many small to medium enterprises (SMEs) have a plan that sets out their Strategy. And that Strategic Plan is often, to quote Douglas Adams, “…on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”. Not literally, obviously. Many offices don’t have a disused lavatory or a leopard.

Successful SMEs have a Strategic Plan, look at it often and update it regularly. But even the most successful SMEs don’t always understand the key challenge they face. The people who write the Strategic Plan and measure its success usually work IN the business and just as a fish can’t see water, those writers and measurers may not be best placed to ‘see’ the business.

OK, enough about fish (and leopards). Let’s talk about murder –

Or more precisely, let’s talk Murder Boards. The term Murder Board originated in the US Military and it’s generally described as a committee of questioners set up to undertake a critical review. It’s often used to help people prepare for political hearings or going before the media in a crisis. But it is a crucial tool in other contexts too.

Whether you’re just starting a business, well established, a new owner, a keen seller or need to create a strategic plan or a strategy to achieve a specific goal such as an acquisition, a Murder Board can help you.

Simply put, in a business context, a Murder Board’s job is to ask questions, test beliefs, pick at loose thread, poke holes, find gaps, identify group think and expose the dangers, risks and challenges, opportunities strategies and pathways that you may have missed because you’re inside and can’t see the water.

We hope you can see that the Murder Board is not relentlessly negative. There may be unidentified nasties lurking just outside your field of vision but there will also be positives, new opportunities, enhanced strategies and AH-HA moments.

“Brilliant” we hear you say. “Can’t I just get my mates round and do a Murder Barbeque?” –

Yes, subject to any current social distancing rules, of course you can. But, honestly, whilst it will most assuredly be a Barbeque it is likely to be more Massage than Murder.

You don’t need input and advice from a bunch of friends who may well just tell you what they think you want to hear, massage your ego and worry about what you’ll think of them if they tell you something negative.

You need objective outsiders, who understand strategy and planning, who are experienced in business but not in your business, and who won’t be concerned about asking naïve questions. You need facilitators who won’t self-censor or edit their questions or answers or worry about not getting an invitation to the next social event at your place.

“Got it, but everything is fine right now. I’ll wait until we’re next due to renew our Strategic Plan or there’s a crisis.”, you might suggest –

Absolutely…except…remember that truly successful businesses operate with a continuous strategic mindset and with checks and balances in place to ensure that every operational step is in line with the fundamental pillars of their strategy.

Running a Murder Board is not about your Strategic Plan as such but about ongoing business strategy, investment strategy, operating in the real world, and checking in on the businesses belief systems, marketing and sales messages, customers or clients.

And yes, in a crisis a Murder Board is very valuable to finesse messaging and media strategy. But it’s much more effective in crisis management if it has been preceded by an overarching look at the business that has already identified the dangers, risks and challenges and formulated plans for dealing with them.

We can help!

TBC provides Business Advice in the Round. We don’t just help your business with legal issues. We provide you with access to our expert collaboration partners and our own team of business professionals experienced in strategy and planning. We’ve run Murder Boards for start-ups and established businesses for many reasons including to test their strategy, sales and marketing plans or operations and to get them ready for investment or sale.

We’d be delighted to chat with you about what we can offer that will help you ‘see the water’.

The Brooke Consultancy is a law firm and business consultancy offering Business Advice in the Round. We help businesses and individuals prosper. Click here to contact us.


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