Performance

Driving Strategic Impact

Resolve strategic problems in a fact-based, logical manner, with practical, high-impact recommendations that win the support of key stakeholders.

The Case for Strategic Problem-Solving Skills

Research shows that strategic leaders:

  • Challenge existing points of view without provoking people
  • Act on big and small pictures at the same time
  • Rapidly change course if their chosen path is incorrect
  • Lead with inquiry and advocacy

Organizations with problemsolving capabilities in the top quartile bring 3.5 times higher total returns to shareholders than those in the bottom quartile.

Sources: PwC 2015, McKinsey

Lack of effective strategic problem-solving is a major gap for leaders and their organizations.

90 percent of organizations fail to meet their strategic goals.

92 percent of top leaders are not seen as effective at strategy.

95 percent of employees don’t understand or are unaware of their organization’s strategy

Sources: Harvard Business Review 2015, ResearchGate, Harvard Business School

Behaviors Learned

  • Frame a strategic problem in the right way and define what success looks like
  • Break down a strategic problem into logical questions and develop a data collection plan to answer these questions
  • Identify and prioritize the key issues that lie at the heart of the problem
  • Collect the right quantitative and qualitative data, analyze correctly, and draw the right insights
  • Formulate strategic conclusions and actions that are fact-based, practical to implement, and supported by key stakeholders
  • Organize your facts, conclusions and recommendations into a storyline that allows you to communicate with key audiences in a persuasive and time-efficient manner

Core Ideas

Strategic problems are hard to solve

Strategic issues are often the most critical questions an organization has to resolve, but they are difficult: the questions to be resolved may be quite fuzzy, they may cut across multiple functions, there may be very limited time to get an answer, there may be too little data (or too much data), and stakeholders can have very diverse and conflicting agendas and viewpoints.

You need to gain stakeholders’ trust

To drive strategic impact, you need to move from being a functional or technical expert to being a trusted advisor — someone people can turn to for counsel on strategic questions because they view your advice as objective, fact-based, insightful, and practical.

Don’t declare success too early

Success in strategic problem-solving comes not simply from solving a problem, but from gaining stakeholder buy-in and moving people to take the right actions. Ultimately, success hinges on having these actions translate into real impact for your organization. Your problem-solving approach, right from its start, should be guided by this ultimate need to gain stakeholder buy-in, moving people to action, and having real impact, so you are set up for success.

Mentora’s program on Driving Strategic Impact follows a four-step process:

  1. Problem Definition: What is in scope, and what is not? Who are the key stakeholders? What preconceptions are they likely coming in with, whether about the outcome or any step along the way?
  2. Problem-Solving Roadmap: What are all the issues we need to address? Which ones are key — the ones that will make the most difference? What unknowns do we need to resolve?
  3. Data and Insights: Gather the right facts — through interviews with internal and external stakeholders, other forms of research, analysis of customer data, and more — and draw insights and conclusions from it to help resolve the key unknowns.
  4. Actionable Recommendations: Come up with a robust set of recommendations that are (a) solving the right problem, (b) based on logic and facts, (c) practical for the organization to implement, and (d) have buy-in from key stakeholders.
Case Study

Developing a Core Group of Strategic Leaders

Context

Ericsson was looking for a global, scalable platform to help transform 500+ strategy professionals into trusted advisors to senior executives. They invited Mentora to deliver a learning program on Driving Strategic Impact, based on our Learn–Practice–Apply model.

Program

Mentora engaged in three phases of program design, development, and deployment:
Phase #1: Evaluating the need and making a plan for customizing the program.
Phase #2: Doing a three-month pilot with 40 strategy executives from Ericsson.
Phase #3: Executing a full-scale roll-out of the program for Ericsson’s strategy executives, as well as their Sales and Finance executives, over the next few years.

Focus Areas

  1. Structuring the Problem-Solving Approach
  2. Generating Strategic Insights from Data
  3. Developing Winning Strategies

Program Delivery

Mentora delivered this program using our Learn–Practice–Apply model:

  • Three self-paced digital master classes with customized role-play exercises for practice
  • Three live practice sessions with Mentora faculty
  • Three business case studies for participants to work on in their learning groups. All groups received feedback from Mentora’s faculty on their solutions to these case-studies

Impact

Our program delivered significant shifts in participants’ likelihood and ability to put certain strategic skills into practice:

Skill % Likely to practice this
before the program
% Likely to practice this
after the program
Maximize the impact that my strategic recommendations can have on the organization. 17 56
Collect the right data on critical questions and draw out the right high-impact insights from this data. 28 83
Formulate a communication plan that proactively identifies and neutralizes any resistance within the organization 6 61
Ensure that my clients/colleagues understand my insights and recommendations. 17 83
Participant Voices

Excellent content. Very well thought and very well prepared. Videos were very informative and helped put things into perspective. Case-studies were real life examples that helped cement the ideas and concepts.

Executive | Ericsson

Participant Voices

I really loved the mix of lessons, reflections, open-ended questions, and tasks. The program did not only show how things can work, but also traps, pitfalls, how things may go south, and how to counteract that. It has been the best program I have taken in decades, and it actually works better than in-person, live lessons.

Executive | Ericsson