by By Kate Lee, Brimstone Consulting
When Andy Frawley took on the roles of Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors in July 2018, V12 faced several challenges, including business inefficiencies stemming from a recent merger and inapt product and go-to-market strategies. In an environment of sustained, systemic disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, V12 is thriving. Andy points to agile strategy as the backbone of the company’s success.
Strategy has traditionally been a top-down exercise conducted on an annual basis. The process of developing a strategy can be time-consuming and cumbersome. Once a strategy has been developed, organizations often struggle with execution.
The bridge from strategy to execution often fails due to one or more of the following reasons:
- The leadership team is not aligned
- The strategy is not aligned with the goal
- Lack of ownership and accountability
- Measures of success are not defined or communicated
- Initiatives and measures of success are not tracked
- Lack of engagement
The uncertainty, complexity, and disruption of our current environment magnify the shortcomings of traditional strategy.
Agile strategy gives organizations the framework and mindset necessary to accelerate momentum and drive results while simultaneously developing leaders, aligning teams, changing the way the organization works, and energizing people. The process is quick and iterative, continuously reevaluating and refining strategic imperatives, long-term strategies, and short-term initiatives. Agile strategy is fast, flexible, and time competitive.
It begins by looking at your market realities, understanding your customer needs, and understanding where you are vulnerable. Critical, Bob Weiler, Managing Founder of Brimstone Consulting, points out, is also looking at and understanding not only your competitors but also your suppliers and vendors. “Once you understand the competitive forces, customer forces, and external forces, you can quickly make assumptions and begin to see opportunities.”
The process is iterative and engenders collective ownership within the leadership team and across the organization. It accelerates execution, enhances employee engagement, and drives performance and profitability. The process also identifies barriers to alignment, fosters communication, increases engagement, increases trust, drives better decision-making, improves operating discipline, promotes individual leadership development, and builds the capabilities of high-performing teams.
The shift to agile strategy transforms the organization. In a “normal” environment, agile strategy gives the organization a competitive edge. In an environment that forces agility, such as the one we are in, the strategy (and the organization) becomes more agile
Andy was first introduced to agile strategy and the Brimstone methodology when he was CEO of Epsilon. When he accepted the roles of CEO and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors at V12, he immediately engaged Brimstone.
We worked with Andy and the leadership team to develop a strategy that would build a high performing organization and transform the organization from a provider of data to a trusted partner that delivered marketing outcomes.
Through the process of developing the initial strategy, V12 identified 10% of their cost structure that could be eliminated. The process also helped the company to identify their market realities, customer needs, and market opportunity. Together, this information resulted in a significant shift in the organization’s product offerings and go-to-market strategies.
When the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered the US in March, V12 did not experience disruption.
The work Andy, the leadership team, and the entire V12 organization had done in the previous months had systematized agile strategy. Whereas many companies were forced to shift to agile methods, agile strategy was already the company’s mindset.
“The powerful thing about the Brimstone methodology,” shares Andy, “is that it’s designed to be executed quickly and have the strategies be executed quickly. It allows the executive team to engage with associates through the whole organization, and that is powerful in terms of developing the strategy, but even more importantly in terms of communicating the strategy. The biggest challenge in times like we’re in now is that your strategy will evolve and things are going to change. You need to be able to communicate this through the organization. Every associate, at a minimum, understands what is going on, and hopefully, they feel like they have had a voice.”
V12 is looking at their market realities every month. Andy: “It’s changing so fast, and we feel like we have to step back and say what is different from four weeks ago. We’ve built this into the regular cadence of our management process of the company. It is not a special project or something like that. It is just something we are doing constantly.”
Over the next month, V12 plans to double the size of its sales team. Andy shares that they have been able to attract talent that would have been hard for V12 to attract in a different environment.
V12 is thriving, but it is also getting stronger and is executing its goal of becoming a high-performing organization.
To hear more about what is happening at V12 and learn more about agile strategy, you can watch my full conversation with Andy Frawley and Bob Weiler.