Case study - Strategy development

Honey

What they said

We don’t know who we are or what we stand for… and if we don’t know, how can we expect our clients to know? Please help us define how we talk about ourselves. We’re looking for clarity and specificity around our positioning in the external market, to ourselves and to our colleagues.

Honey is a design, branding and marketing consultancy which has grown in fits and starts since it was founded nearly ten years ago. Following a recent MBO and a good, hard look at itself, the new team realised that its focus had become diluted, based on the skill sets and interest areas of its founding partners. 

The time was right to develop a new strategy, which enjoyed the ownership and commitment of the new leadership team and which would define and develop the company during its second decade.

What we did

Honey has a lot of very bright people with informed opinions about how to move their business forward. The challenge facing us, was to give gentle direction around a structure that made sense to everyone irrespective of role and area of responsibility. 

The structure we chose to apply in this instance was the OGSM method popularised by Procter and Gamble. More typically applied to large, global strategies, we have found it to be an excellent way of ordering disparate thoughts post-merger or, in this case, post-MBO. 

And so it proved. Within the first few hours of the first day’s workshop, we had defined top line objectives, goals, strategies and measures which the Honey team agreed encapsulated their individual ambitions and inspired them as a collective.  

This original content has stood the test of time. Despite regular half-yearly refinements, the core ideas remain today. Beneath the overall objective sit three measurable goals for sales, profitability and overhead. Three strategies support these goals and are themselves easily tracked with simple metrics.  

What happened next

We created a powerful new narrative to inspire Honey people to engage with and deliver the new strategy. This narrative recognised Honey’s strengths – our people are fun, they care deeply about what they do for clients and for each other – and honestly appraised its weaknesses – not enough people know about the great work that we do. 

The narrative also called for changes in behaviour – we need to adopt more consultative behaviours to develop profitable client relationships – whilst giving a clear vision of success – we will be relied upon to solve our clients’ biggest, most complex challenges. 

Honey uses its narrative in some interesting ways: to decorate its office environment; to recruit top talent; to manage its appraisal system; to on-board new clients and colleagues. In this way the commercial strategy has become the context for everyday work. Very little effort is wasted, because every action is tested against the strategy. 

Honey is developing steadily. Gone are the exciting fluctuations in turnover that made it difficult to plan for growth. In their place is predictable, sustainable growth, around half of which is organic, from existing clients eager to expand their relationships.  

What we learned

Working with Honey reinforced our belief that tight integration between strategy and internal communications is of great value. Sharing the purpose and vision may not be  enough to inspire people to execute strategy; the role of the strategic narrative here was to translate strategy into action. 

By sharing the narrative we were able to share the strategy by making it more accessible to people for whom it may otherwise have been abstract or intimidating. .