It can be a lonely place as CEO or CCO. For small businesses, a single person might still be expected to know all staff, all customers, and have a good view of operations. For large corporates, the CEO has a dedicated in-house strategic support function to lean on, to test new ideas with before socialising them with the C-Suite or Board. But for the majority of Irish businesses in the middle, the CEO or CCO can neither be expected to know every aspect of their business, nor have they a dedicated team to discreetly turn to.
A well-oiled C-Suite certainly helps – but they rarely have the specialisms, time or ‘permission’ to be sizing new market opportunities, discreetly challenging your own thought process, presenting new ideas and data, or giving a frank assessment of why the competition is pulling ahead. Once a year there might be a scramble to get down on slides what’s in your head – weekends lost to that Board presentation, or maybe an underprepared strategy away day for the senior team?
If any of this sounds familiar, you are not alone.
There are number of characteristics we see on a recurring basis for both CEOs and Chief Commercial Officers:
- Time – you just don’t have the bandwidth to explore and test an idea they have, let alone write it up to get Board or shareholder buy-in. But flexible, dedicated resource solves this.
- Access – Some of the best insights sit with competition, customers, suppliers and regulators. For a range of practical reasons, you can rarely just pick up the phone to them and expect objective or constructive input. But discreet intermediaries specialise in getting such insights.
- Evidence – company strategies are often heavy on ‘gut feel’ – which is fine, but wouldn’t things be more compelling when there’s evidence to back it up? Whether you’re looking at Ireland or international markets, there’s more data sources waiting to reveal a key insight than you might think. Research and analysis specialists accelerate this process.
- Look and feel – while content is key, the look and feel of a presentation or report has a big bearing on its impact with an audience. We’ve seen Board presentations that fell flat – not because the content wasn’t good – but rather too much or too little was thrown at the audience. ‘Death by PowerPoint’ takes many shapes, from a lack of story flow, under-baked ideas, text-heavy slides, to dated or sloppy formatting which distracts from what matters. Those preparing dozens of Board presentations a year know what best-in-class looks like.
- Independence – ‘what strategy is best for us’, ‘how will our market look in 10 years’, ‘which markets or products should I prioritise’, ‘how much of our profits should I reinvest’ – these types of questions don’t have easy answers. Independent advisors, whether named or not, can add credibility to a strategic choice.
How has COVID impacted my strategy?
Add to this complexity a touch of COVID disruption – how it’s absorbed senior management time and how it’s accelerated long-term trends for your sector. You’ll have ideas, but would you like to know how others in your sector are responding?
Get in touch
For further information on how we can help, get in touch with our Strategy team. We'd be delighted to hear from you.
Partner, Head of Strategy
KPMG in Ireland