Strategy, Fit and Intimacy
We talk a lot about how strategy fits the organization. How it guides corporate functions as well as individual choices made by people in the frontline.
The thing is, there is an element to fit that requires more than years of experience in consulting and extensive research and brainstorming. It’s a crucial element, yet often overlooked in the process.
I’m talking about intimacy. There is no fit without it. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not proposing we invade our customers’ privacy or plant ourselves indeterminately at their doorstep. I’m talking about trust and rapport achieved through long term relationships.
That trust or intimacy is gained only through common experience. Facing challenges together, committing to impact rather than delivery and yes, sometimes even through failing together.
Building an understanding of the task at hand and the best fit solution for it demands true intimacy. Its relevance needs to be based on knowing, not hypothesizing and it needs to account for a much broader view of the playing field than what can be acquired on demand beforehand.
The silent signals, shared experiences, insight based on seeing people relate and understanding of the deep values of the client organization are key to success.
Our name August Associates means more than just defining us a specialist organization built on a partner-driven business system. It reveals the attitude we adhere to. We are an association of smart, capable, empathic and yet analytical people who choose to work together. And it is also a guideline for how we work with our clients.
We associate ourselves with our clients. We delve deep, commit to finding fitting solutions and seek a level of trust that creates intimacy. We extend our firm belief in the benefits of a neo-generalist perspective to our clients, seeking and valuing their views and experience to enhance our own.
That’s why we take Best Fit so seriously. We associate ourselves with the organization, breathe the air and sense the atmosphere. We seek understanding of the individual’s capabilities within the organization and go beyond structural nuances to find hidden opportunities for impact.
We believe the era of Taylorism is doomed for the simple fact that no-one can afford it anymore. A single-minded solution may bring gains in the immediate or even the near-term, but does not try to provide real added value over the long term.
An understanding built on intimacy does. It makes it easier to brave the future.
Silos or Synergies?
Capturing synergies is especially critical in our increasingly digital business world, where companies are finding it more and more difficult, or even impossible, to stay competitive if they are not fully aligned with customer expectations.
While this is pretty self-evident and it sounds quite simple in theory, reality is unfortunately an entirely different story. In recent years, a number of Nordic companies have tried to capture synergies by centralizing functions, only to find that in optimizing those individual functional efficiencies they’ve compromised their overall advantage. The good thing is that there are ways to avoid these kinds of traps – you can read about them in the article below and feel free to reach out to discuss more!
Understanding The True Drivers of Organizational Behavior – Article in Director’s Institute Finland’s Online Publication
A recent article in DIF’s online publication (Q2/2017) by August’s founding partner Pasi Torppa and assistant strategy professor Timo Vuori from Aalto University outlines an analytical approach designed to help management identify and understand the true driver’s of organizational behavior.
Winning Through Better Organizational Performance
One of management’s key tasks is to keep improving the performance of their organization. This is particularly important, as markets expect continuous improvement in profitability and growth, but delivering such results is difficult in today’s stagnant economy. No wonder so many Finnish companies have told us that building a high-performing organization is at the top of their list of strategic priorities. But how should you go about it?
The question is obviously extremely complex, so we have searched for the answers in a disciplined way, based on solid methodology with our feet on the ground. Developing organizational performance has been one of August’s key areas of expertise since its founding. We have helped a variety of companies to design and implement processes and tools to manage their business better. To enhance our capacities in this area, we recently initiated a research partnership with a leading strategy expert, Aalto University professor Timo Vuori.
In our recent white paper on the topic, we dive deeper into the challenge and present our Organizational Performance Diagnostics as one very potential approach. Read the full article below and feel free to reach out to discuss more!
Hacking the football business model – HJK meets Prodeko Alumni
At August, we believe that new ideas emerge when different people with experience and knowledge from different industries get together. That’s how we go about helping our clients when they turn to us for advice in strategy, management and many other topics. This time, we wanted to take the idea of combining different experiences even further, and try what happens when we put the management of the leading Finnish football club HJK and businesspeople from Prodeko Alumni into a same room for a business hackathon. Throughout an evening of passionate discussions and brainstorming, the participants developed new ways to address some of HJK’s most pressing matters such as how to attract a larger audience.
The participants – including many football and HJK enthusiasts – were keen to leverage their personal and professional backgrounds to come up with ideas to respond the questions. “It was exciting to see how alumni with different professional backgrounds from finance, branding, pricing, and strategy were using their business learnings and skills to come up with suggestions for HJK”, says Olli Lehtonen, one of the organizers, and Director at August. “The personal experiences really matter as well – some of the participants had played in Helsinki Cup finals, or now have their own kids participating in the tournament, and this was really helpful in figuring out the context.”
HJK’s management was pleased with the business hackathon. “It was fruitful to hear some fresh outside-in viewpoints to the questions important for HJK’s future. We believe new ideas and growth should be searched also outside the boundaries of our own industry”, says Aki Riihilahti, CEO of HJK. “I think it really is time well spent to expose your organization’s own thinking to this kind of external sparring and viewpoints.”
CFOs and Sourcing Pros – Get a Grip on External Spending!
Are you a CFO or controller who is confused why sourcing department’s claimed savings are not visible in the P&L, or a sourcing professional who is tired of trying (and failing) to explain sourcing performance to business heads? Read how August’s External Spending Performance Management (ESPM) could help you.
August & Aalto University Executive Education: New Offering
As strategy consultants, we obviously love to design and execute corporate strategy reforms and to help companies to renew themselves successfully. However, over the time it has occurred to us that not everyone shares this passion with us – the reasons for these reservations being quite understandable: All too many people have encountered strategy processes, which either have been too constrained by templates, have lacked an inspiring vision, or have had insufficient follow-up (at worst all this at once, and a lot more).
Pricing Is on the Move – Should You Go Value-Based?
This blog post is based on August White Paper 2/2016: “Is Value-Based Pricing Right For You?”, written by partner Markus Valoaho and associate manager Juha Martikainen. You can read the full article in the end of this blog post.
Globalization Is Here – So Why Stay in Finland?
There’s no denying that Finnish economy is in a challenging situation right now. Yesterday, however, things felt a bit more cheerful, as we were discussing this blog’s title question with Kiosked’s Founder & CEO Micke Paqvalén (@mickepaqvalen) and Seriously’s Co-Founder Petri Järvilehto (@pjarvilehto) at the Helsinki Business Symposium panel, organized by the students of Aalto University School of Business. I tried to focus on finding relevant advice for the audience, who are probably much cleverer and more ambitious that I was at their age – so what does Finland look like from a consultant’s perspective, and especially, where should the best students concentrate their precious energy?
Find Your Center of Gravity (Before It’s Too Late)
This blog post is based on August White Paper 1/2016: “Find Your Center of Gravity: Four Cornerstones of Successful Strategy Renewal”, written by partners Kai Koskinen, Tomi Ere, and manager Toni Mikkonen. You can read the full article in the end of this blog post.