Set in 1960’s New York City, AMC’s Mad Men features Sterling Cooper, a fictional advertising agency on Madison Avenue, while detailing the everyday lives of its members at work and at home. A winner of several Emmys and Golden Globes, the show is widely praised as historically authentic, well written and stylistically appealing.
Strategic Insights Gathering
On October 15th from 3:00-5:00 pm in Portland, Oregon, SME Strategy Managing Partner, Anthony Taylor, and Cascade Strategy North America CEO, Carl Cox, will be hosting a thoroughly interactive and thought provoking strategic planning event.
This May, I moved to Vancouver to join SME Strategy as co-op student. The role was described as a marketing role at a small and growing consulting company, so I was excited by the opportunity. Shortly after arriving, I realized my role would expand to be much more than originally expected. I was eventually tasked with a variety of tasks that fit into the marketing bucket, including one-to-one sales, content creation, email marketing and copywriting.
As a student arriving straight of college, I had little knowledge of the consulting industry as a whole, let alone its size and scope. SME Strategy specializes in strategic planning, which fits under the management consulting umbrella. There was a lot to learn, and I started at the ground floor. Over the next several months, I would take courses, read about, receive mentorship, listen to coaching calls and sit in on strategic planning sessions to understand the processes involved in strategic planning. By receiving guidance and mentorship from our Managing Partner who’s facilitated strategic planning sessions around the world for businesses, schools, governments and nonprofits, I was able to learn a great deal. This is what I learned:
When organization’s sit down for their strategic planning session, there’s usually a lot on the agenda. Everyone is bringing something to the table that they feel is urgent. The reality is, only a few different strategic priorities will be settled upon by the time the meeting participants are packed up and headed home. In order for a strategy to be effective, this is the way it has to be.
At its core, leadership is about setting a direction for an organization and its people. Anytime we deal with people, we are inevitably dealing with extreme variability. This is evident in today’s realm of leadership courses, leadership styles and leadership consultants all trying to improve the leaders of today’s businesses, schools, non-profits, teams and governments. Ultimately, it depends on the people inside an organization that will determine what style of leadership is best for them. Nonetheless, in this article I’ll try to highlight some of the benefits of each style of leadership, including some examples of well-known people who I think best embody that style.
An immigrant from South Africa, Elon Musk is an inventor, entrepreneur, investor and multi-billionaire. After dropping out of a Stanford PhD program, Musk went on to create and sell his first technology company to Compaq Computer Co. for over $300 million (USD). After that, he and his brother created what we know today as PayPal, before selling to eBay for $1.5 billion in stock. Finally, he had the funds to start a private space exploration company called SpaceX, as well as an electric vehicle company called Tesla shortly after. Along with having an involvement in other companies such as Solar City, Neuralink, and the Boring Company, Musk’s success has amassed him a net worth or over $19 billion.
Time and time again, organizations book strategy days, plan retreats and spend money on strategic planning sessions that don’t produce any lasting results. The session may go well and produce a sensible and comprehensible plan for everyone to follow, but progress hardly takes form. The plan barely gets off the ground before it’s pulled back down to business as usual.