Strategy, What strategy?

Sept 01 | 02 min read

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“Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?” LOL, right? Then why is everyone so obsessed with strategy both in personal and professional life?

What is the obsession to do engineering, MBA, get a well-paying job in SW company, get married, and get 2 children(4 years apart)? Get the children to be engineers and MBAs again. This is such a bullshit strategy. Are you living to follow a traditional path or are you living to be happy? If you are living to be happy, can’t you see almost everyone has a different version of a perfect life? It happens cause people do listen to their inner calling every now and then and are open to changing the course. I can talk about myself. I never planned to be a businessman and did not plan to be at it for 16 years but then the journey was so much fun it just made sense.

Coming to professional life, the funniest conversations are with guys who want to join CEO’s office cause they want to work in “Strategy”. You know, we never use word strategy in CEO’s office. Here we only talk about execution, daily experiments sometimes aimlessly followed by a lot of hard work without any visibility on the results and dealing with many failures. That’s the life in any strategic team including CEO’s office. If you want to do strategy, first learn to do extremely high-energy day-to-day execution. Spend 16 hours at work and learn to deal with so many failures. You will have to own up to that too.

Retrospective is an interesting way to look at strategy. Let me elaborate with an example. Bizom now is the undisputed gold standard in FMCG insights in India. All media publications, and large FMCG brands, look up to Bizom insights to see the trends. Around a month back, I met someone who used to work at one of our smaller competitions. He was all praises for our strategy of establishing Bizom as the “FMCG intelligence platform” in India. He wanted to know how we did it. This is what I did not tell him. We planned on becoming the “intelligence platform” but we never imagined it will take that long or it will happen the way it happened. I can’t explain exactly how or why it happened. In march 2020, I went up to marketing asking what we can do to overcome COVID-related business impact.

Among many things we discussed, one was to sell the “Kirana Report” to India FMCG. Our war room had data scientists like Rohit, developers like Anoop, and Business Analysts like Akshay, Krishna, and Harshit. We worked really hard for a really long time, we used to publish daily bytes, weekly newsletters, and opinion pieces, monthly Kirana Report. We reviewed the numbers each week wrt views, interactions, and reach of our insights. We kept experimenting with our messaging, and insights. No one bought the “Kirana report”. We had no measurable success in attracting reporters, media, or even brands for our intelligence offerings. We still kept at it for 2 years constantly changing things a little bit here and there. Somewhere towards the end of 2021, Sagar Malviya from ET found our insights useful and matched with HUL’s guidance. He started using our insights and quoting Bizom in his articles. Other news and media publications followed suit in the next few months. Brands like ITC called us for presenting the state of India FMCG to their leadership. In just a few months we suddenly became envy of Nielson in India.

That’s how the strategy works. Just bullheaded mad execution, hard work with small improvements every week which feels like “Brownian motion” but results in a huge impact after years. Do you think you have the patience and perseverance to stay at it for years?
Lots of love,
Lalit
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