Category Archives: Strategy

Strategy is simply the process of working out where you want to be and how you are going to get there. It takes account of the environment you are operating in and the terrain you will need to navigate, the resources you have and what you will need to acquire and it takes account of your values and culture.

Unfurling HR – conversations for change

koruLast week I attended the Unfurling HR Unconference organised and facilitated by Amanda Sterling of NZLead. The fern was used as a metaphor for unfurling, unravelling and re-positioning the people and culture related disciplines in organisations. It was an inspiring and motivational event and I have included links to other blogs with feedback about the unconference below.

I participated in discussions about leadership, personal development and the internal brand. As a consultant I couldn’t resist putting my feedback into a stop-start-continue format with suggestions for organisations and HR.

  Organisations could…. HR could….
  • Leaving all the people stuff to HR
  • Leaving all the compliance stuff to HR
  • Creating a consumer brand disconnected from the employee experience
  • Tolerating poor people management practice
  • Taking on all the people stuff
  • Taking on all the compliance stuff
  • Creating employment brands
  • Tolerating poor people management practice
  • Ensuring all managers are trained how to manage people
  • Supporting personal development for all staff from day one
  • Supporting a culture that is living the brand inside as well as outside
  • Developing leadership across the board
  •  Facilitating processes to ensure all managers are well trained
  • Facilitating personal development plans for all
  • Collaborating with marketing and others to develop the culture that supports the brand
  • Identifying leadership qualities that support the culture
  • To look for better ways to do things
  • To collaborate with HR to create stronger organisations
  • To recognise the knowledge and experience of their people related teams


  • Having challenging conversations about doing things better
  • To learn about the business and how they can best add value
  • To learn from each other and share knowledge widely in their organisations

Thoughts from other attendees- #unfurlingHR created a lot of food for thought.

Amanda Sterling – Reflections from #unfurlingHR – what next

Megan Borrie – #unfurlingHR – Baking these things in

Richard Westney – Off the beaten Track

Angela Atkins – #UnfurlingHR

Vaughan Rivett – Attending my first unconference

Jonathan Hagger – One quick recap

PS- this event will inspire at least one more blog from me,  so watch this space.

Exploring the possibilities of social media

Screenshot_2014-01-21-20-06-09I have been using social media for a few years now, learning and exploring the possibilities. Initially, like many people, I saw twitter as a bit frivolous, FaceBook as too uncontrollable and LinkedIn a bit staid.  But, I had read enough to tell me that as a small business I should be thinking about social media marketing.

I began without much of a plan. I knew I had to be business-like and that I had a lot to learn. I was very lucky to get some great advice early on from Sonya at Cue Social Media about how to engage better.  And then I just practised, tried things out, read lots of articles, observed what others did, observed the reactions to what I did, took a few risks and figured out what worked for me personally and for my business.

My facebook page still hasn’t many “Likes”, I don’t think that is the perfect medium for me and my business, but it’s there and serves a purpose when I want to share business related stuff. LinkedIn has grown and I have learnt to use it to promote myself and what I do.

But I have discovered my all time favourite, the one that fits me like a glove, is Twitter.

Why do I like it?

  1.  I like to talk
  2. I can get a bit passionate about some things (some would say opinionated)
  3. I like to understand all sides of a story
  4. I am an open person and am generous with my knowledge and my time
  5. I love to learn
  6. I really like meeting new people
  7. I’m not fazed by “what” people are- I respect you for who you are as a person
  8. I advocate for what I believe in
  9. I support my friends
  10. I connect people and create networks

These attributes make twitter perfect for me as an individual.  I also believe twitter is perfect for organisations to encourage their people to engage with others; to learn, advocate, find out what their public think, listen to other points of view and generally have great conversations that will ultimately create richer workplaces. The open nature of it is not something to be scared of, if you are clear about what you want to achieve and then trust people to make good choices. There will be people like me in most organisations; those who see the possibilities, embrace the learning and understand the risks.

Finding the HOW is part of the journey. Some will have achieved great things already, but for many it will be a frightening prospect.  I think it is well worth organisations spending  time thinking about the possibilities.

Who is ready to come on the journey with me?




The working year of 2013 has begun and most of us are looking ahead with new enthusiasm and renewed commitment to “being better this year.”

So, should we be making New Year resolutions for our business? My answer is to set goals for the business and  make resolutions for yourself.

As I reflect on last year and plan for the next, I recognise that 2012 was a tough year and that resilience is needed to move into 2013 with positivity. I want 2013 to be less tough personally, to be positive about what can be achieved and to take my business to the next step. My resolutions and goals reflect that overall wish.

Here are my three resolutions to make 2013 a better year.

Resolution #1: I will be true to myself  What is it that will really work for you? What will you focus on for the year? How do you really want to spend your time? If you are working on the things that you think are right, then you will put more energy, time and thought into doing it well. The results will be much better than for the things you do half-heartedly.

Resolution #2: I will believe in myself Once you have decided what it is you most want to do, believe in how well you can do it. Seek support if needed, research and learn all you can to help, but ultimately it is your passion and belief that will make it work. Trust your instinct and act on it.

Resolution #3: I will relax more So often we are busy being busy, in the belief that if there is still work to be done putting in the hours will get you there. It won’t always. Spending time relaxing, unwinding and doing things unrelated to the “work” you have to do will often yield a better result when you get back to it. You will also feel better and have more energy.

 All the best for a wonderful 2013. 

Keeping pace with change

For those of us in business, life can be hectic. We have a lot of demands from clients and our business, as well as with compliance and technology. Markets change, new competitors enter the market, regulations change and products change.

So how much should be keep up? Do we need to be leading edge, or can we follow? Or do we select a niche that means we can stay much the same?

Only you can answer this question. But today I had an experience I wish to share, about how we all need to be aware of opportunities- at least to have them on our radar.

For those of us using social media it seems a no-brainer that retailers could increase their customer base and their level of customer engagement if they put social media to good use.

However, there are many who do not understand it and who do not seek information about how to leverage social media. It has been around for a while now, its not just “young people and celebrities” who use it- its everyday people and some of us are even “quite mature”.

Today, I tweeted for help with buying my sister’s birthday present. A local gift shop (Govett Brewster Art Gallery Gift Shop in New Plymouth) answered that they could help. In the store I checked in with Foursquare and unlocked a special discount of 10%- so I bought two gifts. And I tweeted about it.

What is the equivalent “Great new thing” for your business. Is it on your radar? Are you seeking information, training or help to keep up to date? Or are you hoping it will go away?


Make your strategy your own

I have been thinking about templates a bit lately. In particular their role in business and planning.  Strategic planning is the process of determining which path you will take to achieve your goals, within the environment that you are operating in.

While templates for planning have their place, I don’t believe that strategic planning should rely on a templated process.  Their place (if used at all) is to provide a place to start, or to give ideas about what to consider.

Many years ago I conducted research on how growth companies “did strategy”.  My literature review yielded a diverse approach to strategy, described on a continuum from deliberate to emergent. The theory I was testing was that the type of strategic planning process that an organisation used  was related to the culture of the organisation. My research showed a correlation.

For example an organisation that was very structured and stable was more likely to  use a “deliberate” planning process, while a more innovative, dynamic  organisation was more likely to choose something closer to an emergent strategy.

We live in a world where we can access information quickly, have instant responses to our questions and demands and it makes sense that we want the same thing from our business processes. However, strategy is one thing that a business needs to spend time and effort on to get right. A “one-pager” can be superficial and does not always do the job.

Five tips for development of strategy

  • Ensure that the format  you use will fit with your organisational culture. If your organisation has a “command and control” culture and is very considered in its approach to change, then a well documented plan may work for you. Your team may not be able to work with a strategy that emerges as you work through it, or a strategy that is captured on one page. In contrast, if your organisation is adaptive, flexible and dynamic, a fully documented plan will gather dust on the shelf.
  • Think about the environment you are operating in. How can you ensure your strategic planning will be relevant in a fast paced, forever changing business environment. What is enough structure to enable good decision-making without missing opportunities?
  • Aim for a one page plan (usually A3), but think about how much detail your team will need in order to effectively communicate and implement the strategy. Will the abbreviated plan stand the test of time, ie will it be easily understood by a new team member in 2 years time?
  • Make your strategy your own- it should be as unique as you and your business are. By capturing your business culture your team will easily relate to it and understand how they fit into the implementation of it.
  • Treat your plan as a living document by reviewing and adapting as required. Don’t just dust it off each year as you plan for the next year.

The final word goes to one of the grandfathers of strategy, Henry Mintzberg.

“In practice of course, all strategy making walks on two feet, one deliberate and one emergent. For just as surely as purely deliberate strategy precludes learning, so purely emergent strategy precludes control.”