PNR | 2018 Insights

January 8, 2019

Welcome to the 2018 review edition of the PNR Quarterly. This past year was a big step up for our firm. We went from being in the “garage” – or in this case a co-working space to being hired by huge organizations to assist with vital strategic challenges. It didn’t happen overnight of course and took a lot of hard work.

Here is a recap of learnings from the past year if you want to read more.

Next year’s focus will be about growing and scaling our operations. We will also double down on our strategic planning methodology which is the key theme of this edition.

Strategic planning

We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about strategic planning as a capability and how it helps organizations. In most companies today, strategic planning is used primarily for budgets and resource planning.

We believe that this mode of working is incongruent with today’s reality. The market moves too fast to take a step back and solely focus on three or five year goals. Given the growing digitization of the global economy, “strategy” isn’t an exercise conducted on a ad-hoc basis. It is something that reviewed and exercised on a regular basis. Strategic planning as a corporate ritual needs to evolve lockstep with this new reality. We covered this topic in a recent post – strategic planning for the knowledge economy.

Strategic planning needs to mature into a dynamic capability that can help organizations evolve on an iterative basis. We want to continue evolving our agile strategic planning methodology and platform.

Ever since merging the principles of agile and strategic planning, we’ve received a lot of interest in the methodology. We’ve decided to share our method and contribute to the body of open source knowledge. You can find more detailed information on our website and on Github.

In 2019, there are several areas we are going to explore

Wardley mapping

Wardley Mapping is all about building a shareable visualization of context and intention. It affords the articulation of a detailed strategy while remaining intuitive and compact. A Wardley Map placeholds a point-in-time understanding, making past common knowledge accessible for use in present and future consideration. We’ve been employing it internally to better understand situational awareness for our customers and possible end states.

Competitive Advantage

The term “moat” received a lot of attention in 2018. The nature of competitive advantage is shifting in a networked economy. We are creating frameworks based on network effects and their impact on competitive advantage.

A great book we read this year was “7 Powers: The Foundations of Business Strategy” by Hamilton Helmer. Mr. Helmer’s insightful analysis will also serve as the basis for exploring the nature of competitive advantage.

Evolving our own framework

A key area of improvement this past year was our strategy design practice. This simple model was formed to help our customers evolve their strategy.

The layer beneath is a tapestry of frameworks and models employed based on the customer’s context. We are looking to further enhance our strategy model next year and implementing additional battle tested concepts.

Good board governance

Our team has been increasingly working with private and public boards. The topic of governance is a necessary one.

Governance is the system by which a company’s board of directors and management executives align themselves in order to make strategic decisions. Nurturing healthy relationships and ultimately strong decision making is key. We’ve been working with one of our customers over the past six months in implementing strong board governance.

The owners and management team were busy designing and executing the strategy of multiple companies at the same time which includes a large retail operation.

Although, all companies are growing, it became harder to execute with speed because the focus was split across multiple organizations.

We helped design and implement a governance entity to align interests of all organizations with the shareholders’ vision. This entity’s mission will to scale resources between all the companies.

Here are our top reads about board governance:

What GE’s Board Could Have Done Differently

GE’s struggles are well documented and have been covered before in this newsletter. An aspect that has been overlooked is the board’s role (or lack thereof) during the critical period of decline. Management’s role has been explained thoroughly but what about governance? The author covers the measures the board should have taken on, particularly more rigor with their financial auditing.

The Five Most Common Mistakes Of Board Directors

Effective boards do more than just provide good governance, they help shape the vision of the company and help the CEO realize the vision. By looking at recent scandals that have rocked the business world, good board governance is just as important as it ever was. This article provides some insights on how a successful board functions.

Fun stuff

Our most downloaded podcasts from the past quarter:

Constant innovation with David Marotte, President and CEO @ FX Innovation

David Marotte, CEO and Founder of FX Innovation gave insights on how he went from the garage to a 600+ person company. He shared some great tidbits of wisdom on how he approaches company building.

Venture building with David Nault, General Partner @ Luge Capital

David Nault is a friend of PNR and one of the most well known VCs in town. He recently set out to launch his own firm, Luge Capital. He sat down with us to talk about fintech, investing and startup advice.

We held our holiday party at the office with a xmas sweater theme

If you have any suggestions or comments, we would love to hear from you! insights@thepnr.com

Have a great 2019!

The PNR Team