What We Do
“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.”
Change is the one constant and adaptability our biggest strength. But delivering effective change can be hard.
We can help.
We are transformation experts - this is our change ethos:
Successful change is always centred on the customer
Keep continual focus on the desired outcomes (not the process)
Change only happens with the people (not done to them)
Consider all aspects of the business
“A strategy is necessary because the future is unpredictable.”
Robert H. Waterman Jr.
Without a strategy and plan you are just living in hope.
With a clear purpose and robust business model you can execute and make decisions with confidence.
Plot the right course with us.
We work with you to create a clear and effective strategy to achieve your goals, put a solid framework in place, and create a high-performance culture to take your business to the next level.
“Great leaders harness personal courage, capture the hearts and minds of others, and empower new leaders to make the world a better place.” Maxine Driscoll, Founder of Think Strategic
Your people are your greatest asset. Look after them and they will look after your customers and business. High-Performance comes from people, not from systems, processes or technology. Yet we under-invest in our teams. Great Leadership fosters Great Teams - your ultimate competitive advantage.
Let us help you: Develop a culture of high-performance based on people and values-led leadership; Paint an aspirational and inspirational vision of your desired future; Create engaging communications; and Grow your capability through training.
Strategy is just choice-making for organisations and our goal is to help you discover options and make great choices. It is challenging to put aside the day-to-day detail and step back, take a fresh look at your business and the landscape in which you operate and think creatively about the options available. That's where we can help. And strategy must lead to action; it is not an ivory tower exercise but grounded in delivering results that matter.
Lack of a written strategy leads to a lack of focus. Rather than develop propositions that truly fits with customer needs and market trends, businesses become reactive, chasing all opportunities without any logical way to set priorities. Even in small firms, individuals build business silos to focus on areas which they believe are beneficial. In the short term this can work and appear profitable. But in the long run such tactical wins are hard to build and sustain. We have seen many cases where opportunist investments that lack a strategic fit have become financial and regulatory burdens. The organisation becomes forced to invest in maintaining a product or platform which cannot be scaled enough to be profitable or spend effort and money dismantling it.
We co-create strategies which:
State a clear description of the problem
Define your approach to address this problem
Be credible and execution ready
For strategy to be effective it must come from within the business. You need to believe it, understand it and own it, and it needs to align to your values and purpose. But creating a strategy is hard, and even more difficult on your own – we are often too close to our own business, so struggle to be objective or create new ideas.
We prefer to be "Business Consultants who do Strategy" than "Strategy Consultants". Semantics maybe, but we prefer to focus on co-creating good strategies that come from within the business, rather than create it for you in isolation. You need to believe it, understand it and own it, and it needs to align to your values and purpose. The strategy must be execution-ready; do-able within your resources and constraints and aligned to your vision and purpose. But that does not mean that leaps of innovation, transformation and leadership will not be called for.
Developing and implementing strategy is a leadership challenge. The strategy absorbs the uncertainty from your teams so that they can focus on what they do best without worrying about the (known or unknown) unknowns. It is not a committee compromise. We can help you develop your leadership, innovation and transformation mindset and act as independent mediator between your key stakeholders.
Whatever your organisation's size or sector we are open for a chat about whether we can help.
Businesses undertake transformations to fundamentally reshape how they operate so that they can cope with new challenges. From March 2020 and for the foreseeable future, businesses of all sizes face existential threats – the ongoing impact of covid-19, Brexit, high levels of national debt, recession, climate crisis and technological change from AI and robotics. Disruption is all around us.
Transformational change goes beyond incremental change to changes that alter the context in which it is taking place. It is not business as usual, and tomorrow will not be the same as yesterday. Most often it is irreversible - the technical challenge is too hard, the financial impact too great, the media and shareholder impact too painful and the loss of credibility for the leadership team unbearable. Failure, and doing nothing, are likely to be fatal.
Transformation is a blend of process, organisational and technology change aligned to a cultural shift. Not only does the business work differently, but it has new values and behaviours. It embodies the concept of institutionally sustained results, a consistency of achievement over time.
Transformation is not just project management. There are some critical differences and thinking of transformation as a collection of project process steps can lead to failure according to McKinsey.
Project methodologies focus on tasks. Transformation is driven by outcomes. Tracking tasks is easy - the MI is about completion rates. Outcomes require far more extensive MI and a strong leadership team willing to stop failing initiatives, rework and reinvest.
Projects benefit from a well-supported, crisply-articulated and over-communicated vision. It is critical for transformation, partly because the journey to the transformed business will require many people to put "skin the game".
Transformation puts a burden on the C-Suite and challenges vested interests, silos and their resolve around the common vision. They need to resist the easy compromises, deal with the obstacles, maintain the pace and be passionate evangelists.
Projects rarely require a hearts and minds change. At the transformation level, the messaging is not an update to process but a complete reboot on the way the organisation views itself. Customers, investors, employees and suppliers need to be willing (and ideally active) partners in a journey.
Most organisations are not immediately capable of transformation - it is not a muscle that will get much exercise and few organisations can afford to keep all the talent they need on tap. Before starting, capability needs to be assessed and key gaps plugged.
We have delivered high-profile transformations for most of the UK banks and bring fresh thinking. Our perspective is that employees and customers should have a louder voice in shaping transformation, upfront investment is needed in MI, leadership alignment and creating a vision which resonates emotionally and logically. Communication needs particular attention to create an interactive dialogue with showcased prototypes, visible quick wins and transparency of the process. Throughout the transformation we should demonstrate the authentic commitment of the leadership, emphasise urgency and crystallise the benefits to customers and colleagues.
If your business needs fundamental changes then please get in touch and find out how we can help.
There is an iron triangle between Strategy, Execution and Leadership. Since the financial crash in 2007, there has been a spotlight on Strategy plus Execution. Having a good strategy is clearly worthless without a capability to execute. But good leadership is also critical for any business to navigate how to land the value proposition. Creating a great business, ones that will make the world a better place, requires great leaders.
Leadership is often equated to lone hero figures - military leaders, CEOs of tech giants and a handful of politicians. From these great men (and the lists are mostly of men) we can perhaps distil certain common qualities. But the question is not "how to stack our organisations with replicate Ghandi and Jobs?". Nor is it "how do we lift the C-Suite from excellent leaders to extraordinary leaders?". The place where we can most impact is simply by making middle managers and SME bosses into better leaders". Boardroom leadership quality is a function of the individuals available and affordable. Across the rest of the management layers it is amenable to improvement through training, culture, communication and role-modelling.
Why should we care about leadership?
Broadly speaking, good leadership benefit the organisation in three ways:
The organisation is more productive. People fully understand the purpose of their task, are able or willing to innovate and improve, feel valued and trust the leaders to recognise their extra effort. Uncertainty is addressed, so lower-level decisions can be taken and momentum is maintained. There is a sense of well-being, with fewer cases of absenteeism and stress-related issues.
Capacity to change. Leaders are evangelists. They motivate by painting the picture of the promised land and convincing stakeholders that the land is within reach. Through winning hearts and minds, and maintaining a discourse on change, it is possible to change organisational culture. And with cultural change, transformation is possible.
Decisions are deliberate. Strong leaders don't make decisions off the cuff, Instead they use information in a repeatable manner to make decisions which can be rationally explained and as a result are less risky, can be learned from and are not idiosyncratic. The decision-making framework is important - leaders need to know the organisations appetite for risk, how competing factors like profit, well-being and financial risk should be balanced and the scope of their authority.
At Ahead Business Consulting we address the leadership challenge in middle management in three ways:
We provide seminars on leadership, speaking alongside leaders from sports, military and industry.
Our "high performance teams" training directly addresses the outcomes from leadership and provides a pathway to improve performance.
We are accredited partners for Rocket Remote, an innovative online game that generates insights for leaders and their teams.
If you want to achieve more then please get in touch.
Based in Falkirk, we support organisations across Scotland and beyond.
Get in touch! Tell us your successes, your aspirations and the challenges you face. We will share how we can help – with no obligation for more.