One of the characters she met was the Cheshire Cat. Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, “What road do I take?”
The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“If you don't know where you want to go, then it doesn't matter which path you take.”
Aren't we all sometimes like this Alice? The Cheshire Cat was right, if we don't know where we want to go, any road we take wouldn't matter much. But when we are given a responsibility -- to lead a team, to generate a certain amount of revenues, or to start a new business opportunity -- not knowing where we want to go is a fine recipe for wasting time, effort, and money.
Julie Zhuo -- the product design VP at Facebook who started her career at Facebook in 2006 as its first intern, promoted to a rookie manager in 2009 at the age of 25, and now she manages hundreds of people -- made strategy as one of her key areas of growth for her as a manager.
She said in her recent article featured in MIT Sloan Review: ... “The core problem was that I didn’t really understand what strategy was. Because nobody had ever explained it to me, I figured that being strategic was simply engaging in high-level product and business discussions.”
Further she explained: “What a strategy actually entails is a set of actions designed to achieve a particular objective. It’s like a route designed to get you from point A to point B…”
Business Sense and Business Strategy
Unlike Julie, these five team members -- Yenny (HR leader), Nova (Sales leader), Shakina (Sales), Fahmi (e-Commerce) and Sandy (Technical) -- at PT Wira Arta Telematika (WAT), were very fortunate, they were given an opportunity to undertake a special coaching program on business strategy, since January 2019. This special coaching program, in six "one-on-one" sessions via a video call, was a continuation of their previous coaching journey -- read their story here its-only-a-beginning-they-come-together-as-a-team.html
In this journey, while deepening their business sense, they experiencing interactive discussions on intertwined topics related to strategy that are relevant to their roles and responsibilities at work and to the business environment of PT WAT.
Strategy has never been an easy topic. Moreover, usually it will be the subject for senior management, directors, and C-suites. But why is this idea for the core team and young professionals of PT WAT?
Because Agus TEH, the owner of PT WAT, wanted his team to be more creative and to let them lead from the bottom up. This in fact is very great idea, in this millennial age, millennial-employees are tended to be productive when they are embraced and became a co-creator of any new initiatives that companies may have.
Beginning with understanding what strategy is -- and what is not -- why strategy is necessary to guide their business activities down to their personal objectives; using selective strategy frameworks -- they learned how to develop their own strategy.
Understanding and creating a strategy is one matter, but turning their strategic initiatives into actions is a different matter. This coaching left nothing to chance. They were also trained to learn how execute the strategy and measure the results, how they know if they are going to be successful.
New skills and knowledge in strategy
Finally, a strategy, no matter how great if they can’t communicate it clearly, is useless.
So, it was on Thursday, 2 May 2019, the team (unfortunately Nova and Sandy were unable to attend) demonstrated how to be a good communicator — communicating their strategy to their team members, to align with theirs in order to achieve their common objective.
In these three months, I've seen such tremendous development in them. Especially in their business sense and customer relationship skills. They, now, realise whatever they do at work must aim at contributing to achieving a shared goal, either directly or indirectly -- and that in itself can bring small and big impact to the business.
FAHMI, who is responsible for WAT's e-Commerce business, who always had one-hundred-and-ten-ideas, but he didn't know that ideas must be turned into action -- and ideas must have a direction that lead to a goal -- a common goal. Understanding strategy has made him a more critical thinker and doer rather than "dreamer".
Delivering a great customer experience example is from SHAKINA, a sales executive, who learned in this Strategy Coaching that to be valuable she has to find what her products/ services uniqueness. To her this means her responsiveness. In fact this was acknowledged by a VP of her major customer, telling how he likes to deal with her, so responsive, that she will pick up the phone before it rings twice.
Another example worth mentioning is from SANDY, a network technical engineer -- who used to be quite passive -- learning that creating an excellent external service for customer may lead to a revenue generation -- on one Saturday afternoon, Sandy received a WhatsApp message reporting a technical issue from one of WAT major customers, he didn't hesitate to follow up with a call, he even went extra mile by going down to the site to check the problem out. That Saturday, not only he solved the problem but he also found a new sales lead for his sales team.
While YENNY, the HR team leader at PT WAT, learning that a great company has a strong internal team -- a team that respect and support each other. As part of her strategic initiatives in creating excellent internal services, she encouraged and involved others in making a decision. She put that into action in the recent company's yearly outing, when the grand plan had to be altered due to the weather's issue, and a situation called for a quick decision, she assumed a leadership role -- successfully she solicited everyone's opinion, and together she led them made a happy decision.
And NOVA, as sales team leader, she used to have many things to do and want to do them all without realising that these may not have the same direction, if there was a direction at all -- in other words they are pretty disjointed activities. Understanding business strategy has sharpened the way she analysed the situation, worked and collaborated with her team smartly — creating a “value-creating activity” that her customers begin to see and appreciate.
A gate to excellence
Most of them agreed that understanding the strategy not only helping them to be more focussed, but enabling them to see how their activities (internally and externally) at works are closely connected and intertwined. Therefore if each of them do his/her part well, the results are going to be amazing.
I wish them all the very best, and may with their newly acquired skills and knowledge they can be more than what they think they are. And may like Alice their experience at work be a real adventure worth telling for many years to come!
My sincere thanks to Agus TEH, Managing Director of WAT, and to Imelda TEH, Finance Director of WAT, for trusting their valued team members to journey with Arc Australia Consulting since August 2018.
Here are some pics from our final meeting on Thursday, 2 May 2019.