Monday, 26 March 2012

Why Airthrey launched LEAD

According to Richard Rumelt, “strategy’s strategist” (McKinsey Quarterly), an effective business strategy has three components: a diagnosis, a guiding policy, and a set of coherent actions. Rumelt rails, in Good Strategy/Bad Strategy, against ‘visionary’ approaches to strategy, which are all about setting aspirational goals and pursuing them vigourously. If everyone is doing this, how meaningful is it? And in any case, desire alone is a poor substitute for strategy.

Airthrey Ltd was established to provide learning evaluation solutions to corporate clients. The principal means for this ought to be consultancy, but the core concept also embraces other possible services, including research, information, training, software development, publications and more.

One of Airthrey’s early lessons, having now been in business for just six months, was that not everyone is keen to commit to consultancy. This isn’t just about recessionary pressures, although one of their most problematic effects is that many public bodies currently ban contracts with almost all consultants. Some organisations are just wary of committing to relatively expensive services, especially from an untried supplier. Airthrey’s response has been to apply Rumelt’s formula.

The diagnosis is that many organisations, for a variety of reasons, are unable to commit, at least at present, to consultancy. This is a good starting point for a strategy, as it doesn’t merely set an aspiration – “we want to deliver more consultancy” – but recognises a problem to be overcome – “many prospects aren’t ready or willing to buy consultancy”. Airthrey’s diagnosis is that some of their clients and prospects need services other than consultancy.

The guiding policy is to offer a range of services with the same goal – to provide learning evaluation solutions. Consultancy remains a key offer, but Airthrey listened to their customers and resolved to develop a range of alternative services that would be attractive to them and still meet their needs.

I’m not going to describe everything Airthrey offers, or intends to offer, but the first of a set of actions was to devise a high value training and development programme, which would enable organisations to carry out their own learning evaluations, with the support of Airthrey’s principal consultants. This is LEAD, Learning Evaluation Action Development, the subject of my previous post, and this is how Airthrey came to offer it. Further actions will continue to address the Airthrey diagnosis, and consistently follow the same guiding policy.

I’ll let you know whether it works.

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