Learn more about our high-impact, low-cost workshops:

In just 90 minutes analyze an aspect of your business that is on your mind.  End the Zoom call with a clear view of where to focus your effort

"Someone is going to get fired!" – A StratSnap© Case Study

— Rebellion over how to deliver value to the business resolved —
By James Robertson and Paul Leigh (formerly the IT leader of a privately owned agri-science company)
Some years ago I facilitated a workshop with the IT function of a midsize agriscience company. The new IT leader – an external appointment – was facing fierce opposition from his two lieutenants – lifers with the company. One morning he told his team "Someone is going to get fired!". When I had the workshop put weights and scores to their critical concerns, I identified serious misalignment within the team.

The Situation:

  • IT function of a medium size agri-science business.
  • ​High level of concern in the Business towards the IT function and the ERP.
  • ​New IT leader - an external appointment.
  • ​The senior business analyst and the IT operations lead had been with the company 20+ and 30+ years. 
  • ​Both were resisting changes the IT leader was introducing. 
  • ​Dr Robertson was engaged to facilitate development of a new strategic plan for the IT unit.

The StratSnap© Workshops:

Paul Leigh picks up the story...

I needed help.

So I asked Dr Robertson to facilitate a series of workshops to create a new plan for the IT function – a plan that everyone would align with, and execute.  The focus question was, “Critical Concerns with regard to IT Services in the Business”.  

The first day of workshops appeared to go smoothly but the factor weighting produced the following results:-
The red boxes identify the larger weight disparities. These weights immediately highlighted a dramatic difference in perspective between me and my two lieutenants. These differences were carried through to the Gap Analysis (StratGap©) and KPI determination (StratKPI©).
“The StratSnap process forced us to put
numbers 
to our positions and we
immediately saw w
here our differences lay.”
At the start of day two, the operations lead read a statement to the workshop attacking my changes as wrong-headed. You could cut the room with a knife.

In the face of this attack, the StratGap© and StratKPI© workshops proceeded cautiously with extra time allocated to make absolutely sure that everyone’s voice was heard and captured. It was a tense day and I was concerned that I would fail to bring the old guard on board.
The situation became so severe that I warned the team, “someone is going to get fired”. I was referring to my recalcitrant lieutenants, or myself for that matter if I failed to quickly turn the unit around.

At the end of the workshops, we were closer but had still not reached agreement. However, the individual weights allowed everyone to recognize the different perspectives while acknowledging that these differences were not helpful to the unit’s performance and its ability to support the business.
Despite some difficult conversations there was now a willingness on all sides to shift positions for the sake of the unit's performance, and our jobs. Following the workshops the whole team was able to reach agreement on a set of weights that everyone could support and, at my insistence, were aligned with the perspective of the board of directors that had hired me. Dr Robertson continued to advise me throughout this tricky period.
“Without the StratSnap process we would have 
continued to pull in different directions.”

Learn more about our high-impact, low-cost workshops:

In just 90 minutes analyze an aspect of your business that is on your mind.  End the Zoom call with a clear view of where to focus your effort
The weights we settled on are shown in the image below depicting the framed KPAs. I hung this on the wall at the entrance to the IT wing as a constant reminder to ourselves and to our clients in the business. The handwritten changes were applied over a period of 5 years as our work gradually paid off and the priorities shifted as a consequence.
IT Key Performance Areas 2009 to 2014
The StratSnap process had forced us to put numbers to our positions and we immediately saw where our differences lay. The numbers took a lot of the frustration out of the debate. We all wanted to succeed, and we realized we had to quickly agree on 'one route up the mountain' for the sake of our company and our jobs.
 
This evidences the power of putting numbers to so-called ‘soft issues’ and using those to gain insight into difficult situations. The point is that without a StratSnap process it is likely that we would have continued to downplay our differences – after all, we all agreed what the critical success factors were. The extreme differences lay in the emphasis (the weights) we placed on those factors. Without the StratSnap process we would have continued to pull in different directions. The process saved us from that by forcing us to confront and hammer out our differences.
“Dr Robertson’s facilitated planning process,
 and the scorecard we developed, were transformative.”

Learn more about our high-impact, low-cost workshops:

In just 90 minutes analyze an aspect of your business that is on your mind.  End the Zoom call with a clear view of where to focus your effort
I subsequently arranged for the operations lead to go through IT Service Management training and certification. This led to a material change of perspective and the individual went from a position of adversarial combat to become one of my trusted allies. How differently this could have played out without Dr Robertson’s process.
  
Armed with the StratSnap outputs, the StratGap process identified and roughly sized the initiatives needed to close the gaps between where we were as a unit and where the business needed us to be. But it was the StratKPI that proved to be the next game-changer. The 7 KPAs became the focus of everyone in the unit. Not only were the KPAs displayed prominently on the wall, but they also featured in the regular customer surveys we ran and on the scorecards that we asked stakeholders to complete each year. The scorecard (example from one stakeholder displayed below) became a longitudinal study of how IT was doing and ran for the next five years (at which time the business was acquired by a large US multinational).
“Both colleagues continued to work in my unit and made valuable contributions over the following five years.”
Dr Robertson’s facilitated planning process, and the scorecard we developed, were transformative. The team was now aligned on what we needed to focus on. We had a cogent plan to narrow the gaps. We had metrics with which to measure our progress. Our unit went on to be recognized as a responsive and customer service-oriented support function. The company became the first in our industry to digitize the sales order taking process and IT’s risk profile was reduced to a level deemed acceptable by the executive leadership. Both colleagues continued to work in my unit and made valuable contributions over the following five years.

— James Robertson & Paul Leigh
About James A Robertson & Associates...
We focus on helping our clients develop actionable plans using techniques developed from engineering and 'quick attack' military disciplines – proven through 30+ years' consulting with C-suite executives.

We offer a high-impact, low-cost workshop to help you analyze an aspect of your business that is exercising your mind. We can do this within 90 minutes for a single delegate (a small business) and within 4 to 5 hours for a mid-size business with up to 7 workshop delegates. 

Let us help you develop an actionable plan for your organization.

Learn more about our high-impact, low-cost workshops:

In just 90 minutes analyze an aspect of your business that is on your mind. End the Zoom call with a clear view of where to focus your effort
No-charge, no obligation, Zoom call with Dr Robertson

The workshop method and tool have been refined and proven over decades to help small and large enterprises analyse their business, determine what to focus on, and grow their profits
Because of the method’s constant focus on the critical elements, the plan is time and cost efficient and will produce maximum impact for your investment of time and money.

My approach is based on the four pillars of my knowledge and experience

Photo of Dr James A Robertson
  • Former practising engineer.
  • ​Former military commander
  • ​Schooled in economics
  • ​Decades of executive consulting experience
To understand the sort of questions we can help you with, please scroll down

Strategic and Business Planning Workshops - Key Differentiators

Not a shopping list 

No shopping list of wants – instead, brainstorm list synthesised into +- 7 weighted and scored critical factors

Differences Resolved

Different perspectives are identified and resolved

Team pulls together

By working through their different perspectives, the team aligns to a common approach

Traceability

Because the process maintains an audit trail, each element of the plan can be traced  back to its origin

Trajectory of change

The method recognises and identifies the forces required over time to change direction

Scorecard Dialog

The weighted scorecard enables a powerful dialogue between stakeholders and over time

Precision Engineering

Plans designed to succeed by engineering against failure. In the same way engineers design bridges not to fall down

Military Methods

Draws on military quick attack and Pareto principles to deliver results quickly
These could be your results:

Highly recommended...

"Dr Robertson’s StratSnap workshops were transformative... His method enabled the team to reach consensus on what our critical problems were, and on a plan of approach to address them. StratSnap ensured that we quantified our thinking and thrashed out our differences. It provided a basis for year-on-year performance measurement... The metrics also gave us a lever to ask for resources to move the needle, very helpful during the budgeting cycle. Highly  recommended."
“...Dr Robertson's StratSnap workshops were transformative.”
Paul Leigh, Business Partner, Fortune 500 Ag Company

We made rapid progress, faster than I anticipated.

"Dr. Robertson’s ability to understand the scope, depth, and specificity required was exciting. We made rapid progress, faster than I anticipated, which freed me to expand the necessary work on other parts of the program. His natural ability to assess, recommend, and manage integrated expansion of the program, lead, and collaborate demonstrated an unusual ability to focus and be extraordinarily productive. Dr. Robertson is welcomed and respected by all involved."
"Dr. Robertson’s ability to understand the scope, depth, and specificity required was exciting!"
Margot Murphy, Consultant, Beyond Resilience

Learn more about our high-impact, low-cost workshops:

In just 90 minutes analyze an aspect of your business that is on your mind.  End the Zoom call with a clear view of where to focus your effort

A collection of some of the Focus Questions and results for workshops we have run

  • ​Lee: 
    What are our critical concerns with regard to internal projects?
Line Chart Showing Weighted Objective vs Current for focus question: What are our critical concerns with regard to internal projects?
  • Darren:
    What is the essence of our message to investors regarding the xxxx App?
Line Chart Showing Weighted Objective vs Current for focus question: What is the essence of our message to investors regarding the xxxx App?
  • ​Merl: 
    What is the essence of our offer?

Line Chart Showing Weighted Objective vs Current for focus question: What is the essence of our offer?
  • ​Julie: 
    What is the essence of my message to my affiliates in the lockdown?
Line Chart Showing Weighted Objective vs Current for focus question: What is the essence of my message to my affiliates in the lockdown?
  • ​Clare: 
    What are my Critical Success Factors for the Balance of 2020?
Line Chart Showing Weighted Objective vs Current for focus question: What are my Critical Success Factors for the Balance of 2020?
  • ​Melissa: 
    What are my Critical Success Factors for the Golf Day fundraiser?
Line Chart Showing Weighted Objective vs Current for focus question: Critical Success Factors for the Golf Day fundraiser?

Sometimes a second dimension emerges from the workshop factor synthesis as in the case below. These can be mapped later using StratMatrix©.

  • ​Margot (dimension 1): 
    The Critical Success Factors for Monetizing Vxxxx in 2020?
Line Chart Showing Weighted Objective vs Current for focus question: What are our critical concerns with regard to internal projects?
  • Margot (dimension 2):
    The Critical Success Factors for Monetizing Vxxxx in 2020?
Line Chart Showing Weighted Objective vs Current for focus question: What is the essence of our message to investors regarding the xxxx App?

StratMatrix© is used when the StratSnap© process surfaces two dimensions in answer to a Focus Question. 

In this example, the two dimensions are Marketing Actions and Product Range.

Do YOU need to answer one of these Focus Questions?

  • What are our...
  • Critical concerns with regard to our current situation?
  • ​Critical Success Factors for Survival in the current economy?
  • ​Critical Success Factors to Thrive in the current economy?
  • ​Critical Considerations with regard to the Most Optimistic Scenario?
  • ​Critical Considerations with regard to the Most Pessimistic Scenario?
  • ​Critical Considerations with regard to the Most Likely Scenario?
  • ​Key Strengths in responding to current market forces?
  • ​Key Opportunities in the current market?
  • ​Key Market Attractiveness Factors?
  • ​Key Markets in current situation?
  • ​Market Critical Success Factors for Market xxx?
  • ​Critical Customer Alienators we need to manage?
  • ​Owner Critical Success Factors for the Business in the current market?
  • ​Core Objectives for the business in the current market?
  • ​Shareholder Critical Success Factors for the Business in the current market?
  • Or, the Focus Question of your choice

Learn more about our high-impact, low-cost workshops:

In just 90 minutes analyze an aspect of your business that is on your mind. End the Zoom call with a clear view of where to focus your effort
No-charge, no obligation, Zoom call with Dr Robertson

Potential Cost of Inaction

  •  Time, effort, money: Lost value every month you delay 
  •  Competition: You may be outpaced by your competitors
  •  Statis: Inability to move forward with strength and alacrity
  •  Leadership: ​Lost opportunity to become a market leader
  • Misdirection: Failure to respond to shifts in your external environment