Recipe for a great strategy


Jamie Ounan

We believe that the best solutions are yet to be discovered and the best outcomes yet to be delivered. That is why we prepare organisations for change and help them implement it. We do this through an intimate understanding of their business, a relentless focus on delivery, the use of techniques that challenge the status quo and bridge traditional disciplines. We provide a range of services to public and private organisations including project and programme management, property consultancy, change management and strategy development and strategic advice. Contact us to discuss a project.

Strategy has got itself a bit of a bad rep. It can be perceived as head in the clouds, abstract and theoretical stuff, and ultimately as not translating into meaningful delivery because those that design the strategy don’t know the realities of delivery. At Inner Circle, every member of the team intimately understands both sides of the strategy-delivery coin.

We believe a strategy must be clear and concise, while synthesising complex information and an awareness of an ever-changing context. A strategy cannot be divorced from the tactics, delivery, change, and team building that goes on during its development and implementation. At all times a strategy must be iterative, oscillating between analytics of the issues, practical delivery capabilities, systems and the overarching vision.

Inner Circle Consulting recipe for a great strategy

Our success comes from using a Five-Step: Strategy Development Process:


1. First focus on Framing – defining the right questions (with the right people).

2. Do the Discovery & Diagnosis – what are the needs / issues / requirements.

3. Set out the Vision – define where we need to be (visualising that in detail with the right people).

4. Focus – Delivery exploration into how we can get there? (what approaches and options are likely to work).

5. Then Commit to the Preferred Approach (secure a strong mandate from the right people, then implement, manage the change and monitor results).


But for the strategy to develop into meaningful delivery these steps must have the three magic ingredients (like any great food recipe); team work (love), strong analytics (great, seasonal ingredients) and a delivery focus (patience).

Inner Circle Consulting team

Strategy Ingredients


1. Team work (the love), it’s important to focus on:

  • Ensuring the framing of the issues and questions are shared and owned by all the key stakeholders.

  • Enabling a rapid and multi-angled diagnosis of the challenges – experts from multiple fields, including from those outside of the core subject matter, can frame the problem from first principles. Take time to understand and love the subject matter more than even the individual experts.

  • Building benefit of the doubt with stakeholders and securing their commitment to the outcome to ensure progress continues in challenging times during delivery.

  • Getting comfortable with ambiguity while being confident that progress is being made – this enables new and disruptive lines of enquiry and avoids loss of nerve.

  • Ensuring people know their role, own it and are accountable, supporting this through sound programme and project management.


2. Strong analytics (fresh, seasonal ingredients)

  • Investigating and considering the multiple linkages between frontline and support departments, supply chains and stakeholders in the complex systems within which our partners are trying to deliver.

  • Having a single data set that can be viewed from many angles, drawn from all current, known data sources to understand what they tell us about the current situation and future requirements.

  • Interpreting many forms of information: hard and soft. For example, as well as the quantitative and qualitative information, we carefully consider the beliefs and emotional responses elicited throughout the strategy development process and adapt for human preferences.

  • Translating complex information into an accessible format for senior decision makers who invariably have limited time, experience multiple pressures and who are often not subject-matter experts.

  • Shaping a flexible strategy that is deliverable in changing circumstances, ensuring the underpinned analytics are transparent and open to adjustment and ‘live’ manipulation to understand changes.

  • Enabling a strategy with demonstrable measurements of success.


3. A delivery focus (patience)

  • Bringing backend delivery data and implementation knowledge to the early stages of strategy development, knowing what works and why, leaving very few surprises.

  • Relentlessly focusing on outcomes throughout implementation.

  • Setting up an environment that supports success, including celebrating each and every element of positive progress.


Bring all these together and strategy can aid in providing a clear direction which is essential for implementing delivery. As we have already mentioned; at all times a strategy must be iterative, oscillating between analytics of the issues, practical delivery capabilities, systems and the overarching vision.

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