Max McKeown's Visit to Speakers Corner: How to use the ART of Strategy in Business
It's not often at Speakers Corner HQ we're treated to a live artist in action. In fact. the closest we've got is the drawing competition we had pre-Easter.
We got all giddy with excitement when Max McKeown arrived at the office with his blank canvass and tools, ready to sit back and watch his latest creation.
Max is one of those speakers who shuns PowerPoint. Instead, he reveals his insights by standing in front of an enormous and imposing white board where he scribbles ideas and creative thoughts, taken from observing the world’s biggest brands, and created a mural which explained to us how businesses need to understand the ART of strategy to be successful.
What is ART?
We've had many debates about what is art in the office, often stemming from the doodles we make on our notepads. Max helpfully broke down his ART acroynm into 3 stages for us:
A stands for Action
R stands for Results
T stands for Thinking - the link between Action and Results.
Max then proceeded to begin his illustration, starting in the bottom left-hand corner, depiciting man from the stone ages who realised, by combining a piece of rock and a tree branch, he could create a weapon to hunt for food.
Change, as Max explains, is created by humans. Our ability to evolve and develop is delivered through the power of thinking. We develop our strategies for the results we need by considering the tools we have at our disposal.
What does the ART of Strategy look like?
Max took us on a 20-minute journey illustrating Nintendo, Disney, McDonalds and Lego as examples of businesses who have evolved their business strategy to become more successful than their initial objective.
We learnt for example how Nintendo started out as a series of wooden playing cards, which has since evolved into a leading computer games retailer. This has been achieved in part through their business strategy for constant innovation and evolution.
Disney were another example who needed to change their strategy to achieve their desired goal. By driving up the price of admission to their theme parks, which had remained flat for a long period of time, Disney raised revenues which could be re-invested back into the visitor experience.
We discussed with Max how businesses would only experiment at the edge of their product range and focus on their core business principle. McDonalds was one good example we shared, with the business experimenting with breakfast and coffee to launch McCafe while retaining focus on core products (the Big Mac). Or, if we cast our minds back to childhood, we shared stories of the fun we had with Lego, where one extra piece left over could be used to evolve the experience.
Sadly, with childhood memories of wind-up toys, board games and scaletrix in full flow, Max brought our attention to Toys R Us, which has unfortunately fallen on bad times. Perhaps the inability of Geoffrey and his team to evolve the product to meet the modern day environment contributed to their demise.
A picture certainly tells a thousand words, and we spent some considerable time after Max had finished drawing, earning a well deserved rest, to discuss and debate our experiences with the brands we'd mentioned and what we needed to do here at Speakers Corner to keep evolving.
You can see Max with the finished version below...