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Thimon de Jong runs over the past ten years has consulted with leading organisations such as Ikea, Deloitte, Aon, Samsung and GDF Suez, on sharpening their business strategies to sync with wider socio-cultural trends. Thimon runs his own company, Whetston, a strategic foresight think tank. He also teaches at Utrecht University on how sociocultural trends can be used to improve business strategy. He will be a keynote speaker at the IMI National Management Conference on 8 October 2015 IMI: Based on your current work – if you only had 6 words of advice to give a business - what would they be?

TDJ: Develop a digitally balanced business strategy

IMI: What does this mean? TDJ: Society, human behaviour, business: our world is rapidly getting more and more digital. But parallel to this development, the need for the real, the personal and the unconnected is growing. In the future, a successful strategy will cater both these trends with a digital balance in any part of business: products, services, marketing communication, HR etc. IMI: Where should we look for further information? TDJ: This fall, I will release a series of articles on this, published via LinkedIn and my website: www.whetston.com NMC 2015 A4 HEADER Thimon de Jong is a keynote speaker at the IMI National Management Conference taking place on Thursday 8 October. This event has now reached maximum capacity however if you would like to be added to the waiting list, please email your contact details and company name to conference@imi.ie. [post_title] => "Develop a digitally balanced business strategy" Six Word Wisdom from Thimon de Jong [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => private [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => develop-digitally-balanced-business-strategy-six-word-wisdom-thimon-de-jong [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-12-13 18:23:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-12-13 18:23:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.imi.ie/?p=11945 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22431 [post_author] => 18 [post_date] => 2018-03-22 13:46:51 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-03-22 13:46:51 [post_content] => [post_title] => Brexit and the Beast – preparing for the worst is always best [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => brexit-beast-preparing-worst-always-best [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-12 20:08:30 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-12 20:08:30 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.imi.ie/?p=22431 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 4802 [post_author] => 7 [post_date] => 2014-02-21 15:38:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-02-21 15:38:11 [post_content] => Have you noticed that so many of the great managers – and leaders – are really odd? Steve JobsThis can be seen not only in business with enigmatic leaders like Apple's Steve Jobs (described by Bill Gates as "fundamentally odd", but also in some of the more eccentric characters we see in sport - take for example football managers like José Mourinho, Alex Ferguson and Brian Clough. While there are indeed managers like Manchester United's David Moyes, who are ..  average, reasonable, uninspired: just the sort of manager that might make the grade on paper in a recruitment process, the great leadership is seen from managers like Mourinho and Ferguson, neither of whom would have stood much chance of making it through to the interview stage! They weren't even great football players! Odd, isn’t it? But is it enough just to be odd? Unlikely... Perhaps there is good odd (Mourinho) and bad odd (take your pick of the world’s despots). In my experience working with organisations, I have found that the great leaders, despite their seeming oddness, have at least 3 things in common: 1. They are clever – especially with people. They know whose buttons to press – and when! Who to kick and who to hug! They know the game – they know their business inside out. 2. They have more than just one style – they hold their principles constant but adapt their own style to the situation in hand. Mourinho famously let his kit man give the motivational speech to his players last week (in indecipherable “Scottish”, too!). Ferguson could tell his Beckhams from his Ronaldos, his Van Persies from his Rooneys - and found the right words for each. 3. They reach for the stars, and hold themselves – not just their staff – to the highe st standards.  They are unrelenting in their quest for success. Their self-belief is unshakable. Failures are used as opportunities to learn. Success is inevitable – the only question is when. So perhaps there is something to be learned from seeing past what might seem like strange personalities and assessing our potential leaders instead for intelligence, a flexibility in style and an unshakable self-belief and ambition.  It may be that these characteristics are more important to success as a leader that meeting any definition of "normal". Dermot Duff is Programme Director of the ManagementWorks IMI Diploma in Management and the ManagementWorks IMI Diploma in Strategy & Innovation - programmes specifically aimed at developing management and strategic capability in SMEs.  His expertise is in the area of SMEs, project management, manufacturing and supply chain management and he is the author of Managing Professionals and Other Smart People. His work focuses on developing practical implementable solutions founded on sound theory.   If you are interested in honing your skills as a leader in your organisation speak to us about the IMI Diploma in Leadership starting this Spring. The programme is aimed at dramatically enhancing leadership skills, awareness, impact and judgement. To know more check out the brochure or watch this clip.     [post_title] => Are You Odd Enough to Lead? What do Steve Jobs, José Mourinho and Alex Ferguson have in common? 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Dr Brian Massey

Dr Brian Massey

13th Mar 2018

Dr Brian Massey is a Programme Director on both the IMI Diploma in Strategy & Innovation and IMI Diploma in Management.

Related Articles

"Develop a digitally balanced business strategy" Six Word Wisdom from Thimon de Jong
Brexit and the Beast – preparing for the worst is always best
Are You Odd Enough to Lead? What do Steve Jobs, José Mourinho and Alex Ferguson have in common?
Brexit and the Culture of Negotiations

Strategy in ‘Interesting Times’ – 4 Tips to Make Life Easier

May you live in interesting times

The Chinese have a saying ‘May you live in interesting times’. Unfortunately, this is not something one says to a friend. Instead it is meant as a curse, where interesting refers to uncertainty and chaotic change. With issues like Brexit, cyber security and changes like GDPR coming down the line, many managers would agree that we are indeed living in ‘interesting times’.

Chaos and uncertainty are an everyday reality for business leaders (Photo source)

We now use acronyms like VUCA to describe what business leaders face day-to-day, an environment where change is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. At a time when environmental uncertainty is at a high, a greater grasp of long-term strategy is crucial.

However, a recent survey carried out by the Institute of Directors in Ireland found that 44% of directors and senior executives surveyed see a lack of long-term strategic planning as impacting their organisation’s decision-making.

So, in this sort of world, how can managers and business leaders approach strategy and take some of the strain out of the process? There are four big ideas that can really help here:

  1. Let the Tools do the Heavy Lifting

Basic tools like PESTEL (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, Legal), VRIO (Value, Rarity, Imitability, Organization) and the eponymous SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) are very simple to apply with a little practice. But this simplicity hides their power to structure the ambiguity of the environment and how your organisation is set up to respond. Let these tools do the heavy lifting at the start of the analysis and free up your creativity for later.

  1. Strategy is a Team Sport

Bring in as many perspectives into the process as you can. Not only will this combat your own blind spots and biases, it will also allow you to generate buy-in from your team and colleagues in the new direction you are crafting.

  1. Think Implementation Not Execution

While it can be tempting to approach strategy from the perspective of a solid plan to be executed, this perspective ignores the continuing nature of change. Instead think of implementation when it comes to strategic action and embrace a more flexible and adaptive approach. To paraphrase the Prussian general and strategist Helmuth von Moltke ‘No plan survives contact with the enemy’.

  1. Prepare for the Politics

Organisational politics can often be seen as a dirty word and gets quite a bad wrap in business, yet in reality it is just a toolset that can be used in many different ways. Accept this dimension of organisational life and prepare to hit some speed bumps along the way from those who might not want you to succeed. By preparing to manage the wide spectrum of stakeholders you will encounter, your chances of success are greatly increased.

Embrace the chaos

Embracing a strategic view like this, and taking the above ideas on board can go a long way to help with decision-making in times of uncertainty. If you can build this sort of approach into your regular management routines, over time they will give you an edge that others simply don’t have. No one ever said the task of business leadership was an easy one, but if you approach strategy in a smart way, success is attainable even in ‘interesting times’.


Dr Brian Massey is a Programme Director on both the IMI Diploma in Strategy & Innovation and IMI Diploma in Management. Brian holds a PhD in Strategic Management and specialises in helping business leaders analyse complex change in their industries and craft stronger strategies and business models to take advantage of these changes.