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Implement High-Impact Strategies

Take your strategy workshops from good to great.

Edmund Rudman




You’ve booked your annual corporate retreat, you’ve got your whole management team in attendance, and you spend the entire week strategising. Sound familiar? The real question is what happened after the retreat? Was last year’s strategy implemented? How successful was it?

Strategy is a vital component of a business’s growth and success, but it’s also an area that many businesses don’t implement.

So, how do you formulate the right strategy for your business, and then – more importantly – implement it?

The strategy workshop

First, you need to ensure that you have the right people at your strategy workshops. If everyone has the same perspective, the result will be a very narrow strategy. Instead, diversify the session.

Of course, as a starting point the senior management team needs to be there. But then you need to ensure that there is sufficient diversity. Ask yourself these

  • Are all the major departments/divisions represented?
  • Regarding gender, women see the world (and business dynamics) in a different way to men. It really makes sense to have both sexes present. Do you?
  • It goes without saying that the workshop mix should include delegates from all the main racial or cultural groups. Importantly, the purpose of doing this is not to be politically correct. Rather, one is recognising that the different groups may have different priorities and perspectives. Do you have diversity to enrich the quality of the strategic conversations taking place?
  • Are you letting the youth be heard? As a general rule, I normally request that at least two of the workshop participants be under the age of 30. Strategy workshops that are attended exclusively by the older generation may not adequately represent the views and aspirations of the younger generation. Great strategy embodies the views of both these groups.
  • Have you invited a maverick or two to the workshop? These are the people who are not afraid to share their ideas, even if they’re perceived as controversial or unconventional.
  • Have you invite key clients, suppliers, or strategic partners to attend select sessions? They could add valuable outsider insight, plus you’re showing them how important they are to your business.

Read Next: Strategic Positioning Basics

Setting the scene

Once you’ve selected your workshop mix, you need to ensure that meaningful conversations take place. The focus of strategy is not about producing thick documents that nobody uses. Instead, focus on producing a two-pager that is understandable to everyone in your organisation. Remember, everyone in your business has a role to play in implementing the strategy.

Producing the right document starts with having the right conversations (which incidentally are more important than the final document itself). So, how do you ensure strategic conversations take place?

I suggest you focus on the four Ds, namely discussion, debate, dialogue and disagreement. If you can tick all these boxes at the end of your session you’ve had a good

A cautionary note: many strategy workshops commence at the strategic level but are very quickly drawn into vigorous discussions about operational, tactical or even administrative issues. Although the latter are important, the majority of the air-time should be devoted to truly strategic issues. Operational excellence is another matter to be discussed at another time.

Finally, don’t be scared to enter areas of tension or conflict. High-performance teams engage – when necessary – in areas of ‘uncomfortable debate’. This is sometimes difficult or unpleasant, but it’s a vital component of strategy.

Using the right brain

While strategy needs a logical foundation supported by analytical techniques and suitable frameworks and models, it’s important not to turn strategy into a numbers game.

For strategy to have a great impact, bring in a stronger dose of right-brain thinking: make it more creative, more imaginative, more intuitive, more visual, even more playful.

This links in to another important point. We need less telling about strategy and more selling. Strategy can no longer be imposed upon people. Getting buy-in is a vital ingredient. In this regard, the way strategy is promoted and ‘packaged’ can play a big role. Stated otherwise, strategy needs both intellectual and emotional appeal. It needs to come alive through a visual and emotional representation.

Read Next: Why You Can’t Fake Social Responsibility

The ingredients of a great strategy

Once you’ve completed your session, you should have a great strategy outline. This should include a number of core ingredients including:

  • A business model that works – for now (recipe for value creation)
  • Effective leadership (drivers of strategy)
  • Connecting with clients and potential clients (satisfying/exciting them)
  • Connecting with employees (engaging/inspiring/empowering/growing them)
  • An element (or elements) of uniqueness.

And remember, connecting goes far beyond communicating – with connecting, people get each other, there’s feedback, and strong flows of energy in both directions. A great strategy must excite and energise those people who are tasked with its implementation.

Here’s the trick: Simple strategy means using one or two critical strategic processes and a handful of unique rules that guide them. Remember, strategy is a contact sport – you get engaged when you’re part of the action, not watching from the sidelines.

Strategy should be a natural add-in, not a cosmetic add-on. In other words, it should naturally integrate with, or inform, or ‘flavour’ business processes and organisational dynamics (formally or informally).

It’s not a bureaucratic function or duty that is imposed on people and – most importantly – it’s not separate from the rest of the business. Great strategy is a golden thread running throughout the organisation that picks up vital signals, integrates all key components, searches for new opportunities, gives direction, differentiates, inspires and energises, and focuses on achieving desired results.

Hot tip

Workshop guidelines

When facilitating strategy workshops, I like to suggest that high-impact strategy is built around the following five Fs.

  1. Focus: What business do we want to be in? Many companies refer to this as their mission statement, and it’s all about defining the breadth and depth of their proposed business activities. Hot tip: focus on what you do best, and partner for the rest.
  2. Follow-through: This relates to action and implementation. Many strategies fail due to a lack of follow-through. Many business executives place too much emphasis on high-level strategy, on intellectualising and philosophising, and not enough on execution – this is essentially the discipline of meshing strategy with reality, aligning people and resources, and achieving the results promised.
  3. Feedback: For strategy to be successful, meaningful feedback needs to take place on an ongoing basis, ensuring that all key stakeholders are kept up to date.
  4. Flexibility: Strategy is formulated and implemented in the context of a dynamic and rapidly-changing world. Upfront, a number of key assumptions and forecasts are made. If there are major surprises or substantial changes to key variables (such as the price of commodities, or the exchange rate), then the plans need to be amended accordingly. In other words, the strategy process needs to be robust with a high degree of flexibility.
  5. Fun: Don’t forget the element of fun. Most strategy sessions are dull, boring and overly serious. This often results in standard, generic and uninspiring strategies. Importantly, strategy doesn’t only have to position, it also has to inspire. When strategy becomes fun and exciting, people want to become involved and the process is a lot more productive and value-adding.

Dr Edmund Rudman is manager of the strategy unit at Maccauvlei Learning Academy. For more information on strategy and developing effective strategy workshops, email

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Jeff Bezos Reveals 3 Strategies for Amazon’s Success

One of the richest men in the world shared his leadership tips for running a company.

Hayden Field




“It remains Day 1.” That’s how Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, signed off in his 2018 letter to shareholders. He’s been propagating the “day 1” mantra for decades, and it’s meant as a reminder that Amazon should never stop acting like a start-up – even though the company now boasts more than 560,000 employees and more than 100 million members of Amazon Prime, the company’s paid service for free shipping on select items.

Here are some of the most useful nuggets of wisdom Bezos shared in his letter and during a recent onstage interview:

1. Standards are contagious

Bezos says he believes high standards are teachable rather than intrinsic. “Bring a new person onto a high standards team, and they’ll quickly adapt,” he writes. “The opposite is also true.”

If a company or team operates with low standards, a new employee will often – perhaps even unwittingly – adjust their work ethic accordingly.

He also says that high standards in one area don’t automatically translate to high standards in another – it’s important for people to discover their “blind spots.”

Related: Executive Director Hasnayn Ebrahim’s 5 Rules For Strategic Growth In Your Business

Try making a list of your duties, then ask trusted colleagues to tell you which responsibilities are your greatest strengths. If certain things from the list don’t come up during the conversation, it might be useful to think about how you can up your personal standards in those areas.

2. Set clear, realistic expectations

If you’re looking to raise your standards in a particular area, the first course of action is to outline what quality looks like in that area. The second is to set realistic expectations for yourself – or for your team – regarding how much work it will take to achieve that level of quality.

Exhibit A: You won’t find a single PowerPoint presentation at an Amazon company meeting. Instead, teams write six-page narrative memos to prepare everyone else for the meeting.

Bezos says the quality of the memos vary greatly because writers don’t always recognise the scope of the work required to reach high standards.

Related: Jeff Bezos: 9 Remarkable Choices That Shaped The Richest Man In The World

“They mistakenly believe a high-standards, six-page memo can be written in one or two days or even a few hours, when really it might take a week or more!” Bezos writes.

3. Stay involved with the people you’re serving

Whether you’re selling a product or service, it’s a good idea to make sure you never lose touch when it comes to the people you’re serving – no matter how high up the ladder you climb.

Related: Lichaba Creations Founder Max Lichaba’s Inspiring Journey To Entrepreneurial Success

Bezos says he still reads emails from his public inbox ( as a way to keep his finger on the pulse of what’s happening with Amazon customers.

He says he believes focusing on what customers are saying is much more important for success than focusing on what competitors are doing, and he often compares customer feedback to company data to see where they misalign.

“When the anecdotes and the data disagree,” Bezos said at a recent leadership forum at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, “the anecdotes are usually right.”

This article was originally posted here on

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You Don’t Have To Go It Alone: How To Find A Mentor As A Freelancer

Need a mentor but don’t know where to start? These tips can help you find your perfect mentorship match.

Yu Liu





As a freelancer, having enough time to not only grow your business, but also grow your career can be challenging. Who can you turn to for guidance when you’re the boss? For those who strike out on their own, putting time and effort into finding a mentor (or several) can make a huge difference in establishing a successful freelance business.

Among small business owners who have professional mentors, the five-year survival rate for their businesses is 70 percent, according to a survey by BCSG; among those who don’t have mentors, the five-year survival rate is half of that.

Now that you’re settled into the new year, it’s the perfect time to reach out to your network (or establish a new one) and find a group of mentors. Here are some tips for identifying those who can help you achieve your personal and professional goals.

Related: Vusi Thembekwayo Launches Entrepreneurship Mentorship Programme

Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses

As a freelancer, it can be challenging to find the time to step back and examine your professional strengths and weaknesses. While it can be tempting to rely on a mentor to give you guidance on where you need to improve, you’ll get much more out of any mentorship relationship if you’ve done some self-reflection first.

As a first step, consider taking a few minutes to complete a skills evaluation test, such as Myers Briggs or 16Personalities.

Both will provide you with a detailed explanation of your personality, including analysis about workplace habits, relationships and ideal career paths. The results will help you understand how you interact with clients and colleagues, as well as what types of careers and working styles are likely to be a good fit for you.

If you need more help determining your working style or how to achieve the next step in your career, a career coach could be a great investment. Finding the right coach can help you develop a strong understanding of your own personality and work style. Once you know more about yourself, you’ll be able to better identify mentors who can help you play to your strengths and improve upon your weaknesses.

Form relationships through networking groups


Once you’ve had time to reflect on your professional needs, it’s time to find a mentor. As a good first step, look into virtual and in-person networking groups where you can meet people in your industry.

Networking groups and programs, like Entrepreneurs’ Organization, allow you to connect with other freelancers and business owners so you can learn from what they’ve experienced over the course of their careers.

This can help you find a mentor who’s also gone through the challenges of becoming a freelancer.

The location of your potential mentor can be a determining aspect as well. Having a mentor that lives close by gives you access to knowledge of the local trends and makes it easier to scheduling a quick chat. offers access to thousands of organisations around the world in sectors ranging from outdoors and adventure to fashion and tech to writing. If one event looks interesting, take the time to attend and talk to the other participants. One (or more) may have helpful insights for your career.

Keep in touch with former colleagues and associates

Just because you’ve decided to strike out on your own doesn’t mean you can’t still rely on former coworkers, bosses or other working relationships that you developed before becoming a freelancer.

Those you’ve worked with in the past are already familiar with your working style and approach to business, which is helpful context for any mentor/mentee relationship.

Make sure to keep in regular contact with former colleagues, especially those you admired when you worked together, so that you can use each other as a resource for professional questions or opportunities. Haven’t been in touch for a while? Reaching out can be as simple as sending your congratulations about a new job or reminiscing about an old work memory, but it can go a long way toward helping secure a valuable mentor.

Releated: All The Business Wisdom You Need From 4 Famous Entrepreneurs

Seek out people who inspire you outside your professional realm

Inspiring mentors can come from unexpected places, not just your professional bubble or your fellow freelancers. Take a few minutes to research interesting organisations in your local area, perhaps through volunteering, and get involved where you can.

Other volunteers might come from unique backgrounds and work in different fields or industries, so their points of view can provide you with unexpected perspective that may help you think about a challenge or client differently. A mentor from a different field has a unique opportunity to see your business from the outside and won’t be bogged down by conventional solutions.

Finding a mentor is one of the most valuable investments you can make for your future as a freelancer and for your personal work enjoyment.

Mentorship makes a difference all the way to the top – 71 percent of CEOs said having a mentor directly improved their company’s performance according to a study in a book by Suzanne de Janasz and Maury Peiperl.

Beyond the financial returns you can see from mentorship, having advisors you trust can make freelancing feel less overwhelming and more rewarding. So, make sure to put yourself out there and start building your mentor relationships.

This article was originally posted here on

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Company Posts

A World Of Opportunity Awaits With Peli Peli

Business ownership has always been the entrepreneur’s way of shaping their future. If you’ve always wanted to experience life in the US, this is your chance.

Peli Peli




Global media has been reporting that the chances of non-American citizens being granted access to move to the US are getting slimmer with the new administration. However, there is still one channel of access that allows people the opportunity to relocate that hasn’t been amended by the presidency.

The EB-5 Visa programme was created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the US economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Under a programme initially enacted as a pilot in 1992, and regularly re-authorised since then, investors may also qualify for EB-5 classification by investing through regional centres designated by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth.

The question most commonly asked by foreign investors is where to start selecting a relatively low-risk company to invest their money into. One such entity that has been granted designation under the EB-5 programme is the restaurant group Peli Peli.

Built-in success

Peli Peli is a South African cuisine restaurant that has gained incredible traction in the competitive American restaurant industry. They currently have six successful branches opened in the Texas area. Peli Peli Vintage park, which opened in 2009, generated revenue of $5,3 million in 2016.

Related: The Pros & Cons Of Owning A Restaurant Franchise

Peli Peli Galleria opened in 2015, and had $5,2 million revenue in 2016. Peli Peli Kitchen, their first fast casual concept, opened in October 2016 and reported revenue of $2 million in 2017. Peli Deli, a downtown fast food casual lunch concept and Peli Peli Cinco Ranch, which opened in February and July 2017, respectively, are both showing incredible growth to match their predecessors.

At least two more locations will be opening in 2018, and as all new Peli Peli locations have historically generated positive cash flow within the first year, the company expects to increase its revenue exponentially.

The power team behind the brand

The restaurant chain has garnered popularity, and won a multitude of awards, including Best Service & Best Atmosphere — Readers’ Choice Award (Houston Press) and 2013 Diners’ Choice Award winner for the Top 100 American Fare Restaurants in the United States (OpenTable). Peli Peli is also rated in the top ten in Houston, Texas (which boasts over 12 000 restaurants) on both Tripadvisor and Yelp.

The Peli Peli trio who own the business are Chef Paul Friedman, Thomas Nguyen and Aiki Tran. These three dynamic businessmen have their own share of accolades to speak of. Chef Paul, who is a born and bred Joburger, has been a contestant on Cutthroat Kitchen for multiple episodes on the Food Network. He won the People’s Choice Award and was placed third as a judge in the Gumbo Smackdown 2014. He received the 2013 Chef of Chef Awards in the 9th Annual Houston Wine and Food week, as well as being the 2013 Cadillac Culinary Master. He was also one of 60 Houston Chefs to be listed in the book Best Chefs America.

Thomas Nguyen, who is Chief of Marketing for Peli Peli, graduated from the University of Texas School of Law and was a former litigation attorney. He was the Houston Business Journal’s 40 under 40 award recipient in 2015 and an EY Entrepreneur of the Year Gulf Coast finalist in 2016 and 2017. He was Entrepreneur of the Year — Houston Asian Chamber of Commerce and is also a freelance writer for the Houston Press.

Peli Peli’s CEO, Aiki Tran, has over 12 years of experience in restaurant technology and won the 2007 Entrepreneur of the Year award — Houston Asian Chamber of Commerce. He was responsible for streamlining the technology infrastructure for franchises such as Popeyes and Wings, Pizza N Things. He also became the number one reseller of Aldelo and Dineware POS systems in Texas, with installations in over 200 restaurants.

Related: The Only How-To You’ll Need To Start A Restaurant

Joining their ranks is South African Ryan Stewart. Having owned 16 restaurants throughout the country, he is also the CEO and co-founder of the Mozambik restaurant chain. Ryan has 17 years’ experience in the industry and is being brought on board by Peli Peli to assist in their revenue and store location growth.

Your path to the US

With the combined talent, brainpower and experience of these four businessmen, it’s no wonder Peli Peli is achieving success. The investment required to qualify for an EB-5 Visa through Peli Peli is an amount of $500 000 and is structured as an equity investment at risk. It entitles the foreign investor to permanent residency, and within two years of living in the United States, a green card for the investor and his/her dependents.

For more information on how

You can be a part of the EB-5 Visa programme through Peli Peli.


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