MY APPROACH TO HELPING BUSINESSES
You're the expert about what you do. About your product, your market, your competitive insights. You don't need me - or anyone else - to second guess you.
But none of us can be an expert about every aspect of our business. And when you're facing a new challenge, it makes sense to tap into someone else's hard-earned expertise and experience.
Maybe you need help managing forceful or creative colleagues, or dealing with investors and other stakeholders, or navigating unexpected set-backs, or re-imagining strategies that haven't worked out as planned. That's where I come in, with some 30 years of senior management experience in media and technology businesses, after an earlier career in law and corporate finance.
I can be as hands-on as needed. But here's what I typically do when I start with a business that calls me in:
First, I listen and learn. I meet with the individuals in the business to understand what they do and how they feel about it. Obviously starting with the business leaders, but also those they lead. I look at the numbers and business plans. I review the products and services, and how they are developed, made and sold. I find out what customers and partners think. I respect confidences.
Second, I question. I ask about the way things are being done and why. I probe business practices, routes to market, product development processes, the approach to sales and business development, management structures, and financial and corporate administration.
Third, I consider the result of all this against my own experience, and that of other experts where appropriate.
Fourth, I sit down with the business leaders and their investors and talk it through. I don't assume I've got it all right first time.
Fifth, I produce a plan, with short and longer term actions, responsibilities and measurable goals, and agree that plan with the business leaders and investors. For PE investors, one of those goals will inevitably be a profitable exit.
And then, if required, I lead the implementation of that plan. I take hard decisions firmly, explaining why, taking the team along with me. Without bluster, and always with good humour. I communicate the goals and strategy clearly, internally and externally.
As we progress, I keep checking outcomes against the plan and expectations, and adjust as necessary.
It's not rocket science. But it's based on my wide experience of working in a variety of media and technology businesses with different challenges and opportunities.
Whether it's migrating from print to digital, from broadcast to on-demand, from fixed to mobile, from display to search, from subscription to micropayments, from desktop to cloud, and everything in between or as yet unimagined, these sectors are fast-moving and driven by innovation and creativity in a way less pronounced in other industries. They - and the people working in them - take a particular kind of expertise to manage, and I've spent most of my working life developing it.