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“Everyone has a plan – until they get punched in the face.” – Mike Tyson

by Bryony Cullen October 02, 2015

​This week will see music fans across the country trying to get their hands on Glastonbury tickets– but it’s also seen a slightly different type of festival – Freshminds’ Strat Fest. Noticing a gap in the market for a great networking event for senior strategy professionals, Strat Fest was first envisioned by MD James Callander as where ‘Strategy meets Glastonbury’, a 2 day retreat in Marrakesh. However the firm’s Senior Advisor Christopher Hopton suggested that an evening event might be more feasible for the event’s debut!

This idea was realised on Tuesday when strategy leaders from firms such as BT, Coca Cola and Blackstone heard from speakers James Hadley (Head of Strategy Practice, Bain), Paul Walsh (Chairman of Compass Group, Former CEO of Diageo), Annabel Kilner (UK Country Manager, Made.com) and Ian Brown (CEO of rentalcars.com). They provided a fascinating insight the world of strategy and their predictions of the strategic trends of the future. James got the ball rolling with Bain’s high level frameworks for thinking about strategy. We then had a fascinating contrast of Paul discussing the strategic challenges facing large companies while Annabel and Ian focussed on their experience of smaller yet fast-growing ones.

We thought we’d share with you a quick recap some of the key themes of the evening:

“Growth is hard”

James opened up with the uncomfortable reality that strategy is hard because growth is hard – and there’s not a lot of bad businesses but a lot of bad strategies. Annabel shared her solution to this – focusing on intuition and insights (something she learnt at her first job at Freshminds!), values that underpin the development and evolving business model of made.com. James expanded on this, explaining how in larger companies ideas can take longer to come to the surface but it’s key to speed up this decision is making process in order to grow.

“Culture eats strategy for lunch”

Getting the right culture can be a great accelerator but the wrong one can kill a strategy. Annabel and Ian in particular highlighted the importance of working with amazing people, who not only develop innovative ideas but have the drive and conviction to effectively carry them out. These great execution skills are critical as the best strategy is worthless if it cannot be implemented.

“The data around trends is overwhelming”

Paul highlighted how we’re operating in an increasingly complex world. Businesses need to focus on the right trends – and shouldn’t focus on more than 4 or 5. The ability to harness this data whilst being cautious of the dangers of aggregate data, was something that all of the speakers discussed as a key factor for strategic success.

Registration for Strat Fest 2016 is now open. Tickets are free and we also encourage you to sign up a peer, but the event is reserved for senior strategy professionals only. You can book your place by dropping us a line at stratfest@freshminds.co.uk, or registering your interest via our Strat Fest Eventbrite page.

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