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Australian Business Consulting & Solutions; January 2014 e-update

Release Date

31 January 2014

Returning to work after a break presents a wonderful opportunity for reflection – to the previous 6 months, and to the future 18 months.  Every year I work with my senior management team at ABCS to come up 5 key strategies for focus throughout the year, and it is against these 5 strategies that I measure how well we are performing.

The challenge with a multifaceted business (like ABCS) is to really simplify the strategic objectives to the point where they can be understood universally across the teams.

I recently read an article in Harvard Business Review (HBR) that provided a very good example of the effectiveness of a simplified approach, written by Donald Sull - London Business School and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt – Stanford.

HBR told the story of América Latina Logística which illustrates how simple rules can help companies shape strategy in an uncertain environment. With the national rail on the verge of collapse an urgent intervention was required.

América Latina Logística executives started with aligning activities with corporate objectives. To set a clear direction, the senior managers decided on four companywide strategies: cut costs, expand services to existing customers to grow revenues, invest selectively to improve infrastructure, and build an aggressive corporate culture.  

A critical bottleneck keeping the company from achieving its four strategies  was the $15 million available for capital spending—less than a tenth of the total funding requested by managers—but desperately needed to upgrade the infrastructure and trains.

América Latina Logística’s CEO assembled a cross-functional team to develop simple rules for prioritising capital spending, with assessment against the four key strategies.

This approach helped them to bridge the gap between strategy and execution—to make on-the-spot decisions and adapt to rapidly changing circumstances, while keeping the big picture in mind. 

In my experience keeping it simple can be a challenging exercise for any business but it also presents a wonderful opportunity to focus the entire organisation in one direction … towards success.

I know speak for the entire ABCS team in wishing you every success for 2014!

About the Author

Paula Martin
General Manager, Australian Business Consulting and Solutions

Spanning a 20 year career in strategy, marketing, sales, product development and PR, Paula has worked for both large and small businesses to develop and deliver successful marketing, brand and product initiatives.

She has held senior management positions across a range of industries, including IT software, HR consulting and accounting, and has built successful operations that deliver innovation, product development, marketing strategies, sales results, brand and customer loyalty.

Having long held a personal interest in the growth of small businesses, Paula ran her own marketing consulting business for three years, consulting to business owners in the construction, retail, IT and training and development markets.

Paula holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications degree.

Currently Paula is General Manager of the Australian Business team, incorporating International Trade, OHS, Marketing, IR/HR and business improvement services. She is charged with designing and delivering forward thinking information, online resources and consulting services that help business manage their growth, solve problems and achieve their possibilities.

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