I chanced upon a free business seminar for SMEs in Putrajaya on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in evenbrite.com one day in 2017, and signed up to find out what it was about. I was not an SME, but an independent self-employed writer, but I went anyway.
It was good that the organiser made it a point to organise such an event to increase awareness about the SDGs. At least the SMEs who made it to the event could learn more about them and how they could benefit from the SDGs as well.
After that, I wrote an article that was published in the Malaysian Naturalist, 71-3, March-May 2018, on pages 44-45. It’s called ‘Rethinking Business Towards Sustainable Development’.
Here is my published article in the Malaysian Naturalist for your reading pleasure.
I attended my first ever strategy workshop on 4 January 2018. I felt my afternoon was well spent, listening to Joescher Chee sharing his knowledge, wisdom and insights. Unlike many people who lived their lives mechanically or in a haze from dawn till dusk, birth till death, Joescher got his wake-up call early in life. At 17, after a death-defying experience, he asked himself if his life mattered and what his purpose in life was. From then on, he changed his life profoundly and embarked on a meaningful life to become better and to help others as well.
In 2018, Joescher Chee has come very far in life. He is the Founder and CEO of Global Strategy Advisory, Co-Founder of Strategy Masterclass for CEOs and Entrepreneurs, an international speaker, and a branding expert who consulted over 200 brands across 23 industries.
So, what is strategy? Most people have vague ideas of what strategy is supposed to be, but Joescher demystified the term easily. He explained strategy as ‘the blueprint to get you from point A to B’. In business, there are various types of strategies. For example, business strategy is what drives your business, while brand strategy is what should your brand stand for. Marketing and communication strategy is how to reach out to customers, whereas advertising strategy involves how and where to advertise.
So, why is strategy important to a company? Usually, companies only notice the symptoms of a lack of strategy, which include stalling shares, falling market share, losing money, reducing margins, declining productivity, being stuck in the status quo, and diminishing employee morale. However, Joescher explained that these are just the fruits or outcomes of trouble related to a lack of strategy, which is the root of the problem. In order to fix the symptoms, we must first address the root cause.
Through his many years of consulting, Joescher noticed that companies normally fail because of 3 main reasons – no blueprint (strategy), wrong blueprint, or cannot execute the blueprint.
“Most companies in Asia are very good in execution, but they execute the wrong strategy,” said Joescher. “No good customer or supplier will want to jump into a ship that is lost.”
“If you don’t have a strategy, you don’t have a direction, you are lost,” he elaborated. “If your company doesn’t have a strategy, it simply won’t get you to the destination.”
On the other hand, if you have a strategy, you will have clarity, control, certainty and confidence. You will have a structured approach to smart growth and a clear road map to achieve breakthrough performance.
In the strategy workshop, he shared 3 strategy tools that are essential and practical for businesses. They are 3 Critical Choices, The Golden Ratio, and Industry Attractiveness.
The 3 critical choices are to be the Biggest, Best, or Most Profitable. Many years ago, businesses could achieve success by focusing on any 1 of them, but in our current age, with increasing competition, 1 is no longer enough.
In The Golden Ratio, the 3 important aspects of a business, regardless of industry, are simplified as Marketing, Operations, and Production. How a company decides on the ratio of focus, how much weight to give each aspect, will determine whether a company succeeds or fails.
The third strategy tool discussed was Industry Attractiveness. This is because the attractiveness of an industry also plays a very important role in how well a company performs. The higher the score, the more attractive the industry.
From this workshop, another point I found important was the importance of standing out from the rest – how to make yourself unique and special as compared to your competitors. As Joescher said, “In this world today, if your business is not a brand, it is a commodity. If it is a commodity, it can only compete on price.”
Business, brand and leadership strategy are required to transform organisations, cities and even countries. A clear strategy, a winning blueprint and a solid growth plan are indispensable to achieving business success for any company, in any industry worldwide. That is how critical the right strategy is, and therefore we as individuals can go so much further in life if we also had a clear strategy ourselves.