Throughout my educational and professional career, I have been praised that I am able to deliver succinct presentations that provide the core of what is needed to make key business decisions – and thinking about my methods, this has been brought about by no accident. Critical business decisions however do not get made by accident and they take armies of resources and plenty of time (oh wait, who has plenty of time anymore). Ok so critical decisions take armies of resources this is true, the whole story is needed by upper management and boards to be able to exhale and arrive at the best course of action. And typically this needs to be presented within days, sometimes hours, rare occasions even minutes of an issue arising. C-suites and boards are at the cusp of when critical action is needed and need to be able to pool their brainpower to be able to act and conquer.
That is where I have come in.
I have worked with Global organisations to review B2B business deals, evaluate new products, evaluate Acquisitions, evaluate R&D spend and have had to deliver succinct research to Board of Directors within hours of requests, and all business decisions involved millions, sometimes billion dollar business outcomes.
My process also applies to Academia, I’ve been part of the CPA marking process for several years and have marked thousands of students papers and often am solicited by students as to how they can improve and deliver extraordinary results. I’ve been able to coach students to improve their performance and achieve top grades.
The idea is a lot simpler than you think, honestly. Sometimes we all just get so caught up in the moment and stress that things deviate and then time is wasted, ultimately leading to varied results and miscalculated outcomes.
I want to share these tried and true methods with you and formalize things to aid everyone in thinking about this for themselves, whether they are in higher education or wanting to improve their methods in their career to achieve better results.
The method is very simple – to develop frameworks. It sounds so simple yet if you are able to develop a framework that works for you and your situation, then you are able to adapt it to most situations and be able to achieve results, rather than be distracted by noise that tends to get in the way a lot of the time. Sounds a lot like a recipe when cooking and baking doesn’t it? Well it is! When you get that recipe right for banana bread, you are going to keep using it and perfecting it aren’t you? It sounds so simple, and yet so many individuals and senior managers, especially senior managers, tend to get distracted and caught up with every single issue (macro, micro, personnel) that comes to the forefront.
I’m going to share with you the pillars of frameworks that need to be established for them to be successful:
(1)Know your audience. This sounds so simple, but honestly is where many people go astray. Let’s say you are asked to assess expansion opportunities to be presented to the Board of Directors. Clearly, you are needing to present to the Board and this is your audience, along with Senior Management buy-in. Once you know your audience, you are able to reflect and become aware of their needs and put thought into what they will require to be able to digest your results. And this leads into (2):
(2)Know your requirements. Again, this sounds so simple – but 9 times out of 10 I can bet this takes many iterations to get right. And sometimes that is OK because without having already done the background work you may have not reached your final conclusion. However, again where critical business decisions are time sensitive, you need to know what is required to be able to deliver. Many times the requirements can come in the form of the company objectives – honestly. If you are looking at expansion opportunities and the company objective is to limit credit instruments, then when reviewing opportunities you want to put a large emphasis on funding and limiting credit requirements.
(3)Use all available resources. Use all available resources. Use all available resources. I cannot stress this enough. This includes within your company, outside, everywhere you can think of. And not just data, but people are the most critical resources and you must use them in gathering all that is being asked of you. Sometimes we think it’s best if we do it all on our own, we’d be able to deliver quicker and more succinct. This may be true for some situations but again, if you are tackling a large business issue or that end of year assignment, you will need a reliable and knowledgeable team to work through a solution or get other's pespective. Make sure you are assessing the situation and that you have consulted and can rely on all those required. If there is a skillset that is not available to you, and you need it, then go and get it. I once faced a business issue that quickly turned into an issue with legal implications, you betcha I quickly solicited a legal representative to review and offer support before I even compiled my recommendations. Always consider external variables rather than staying insular within the organisation - seems simple and common sense however this is often taken for granted.
(4)Know your data and then step back. This can be very difficult for those just starting out in their career, as well as those of us that love data and numbers so much. Again, if we all had more time to deliver than this would be a lot easier. This one idea though is so critical for you to be able to rise in your career and when you consider many around you that are being promoted in your organization they are able to do just that. They know the numbers, facts and critical data and are able to answer any questions relating to that data. But they also know what matters most to their stakeholders (again back to (1)) and are able to articulate the most critical items. Not only articulation, but they are able to then present it in a fashion that isn’t so ‘data driven’. Senior management and Boards love data, they really do. But then they quickly want to hear the ‘so what’. They need to get to the critical mass to be able to decipher where they go from here. You need to be aware of this and anticipate this before it is even asked of you. I've often reviewed the notes of prior Board meetings to unde