What do you get when you mix a McKinsey alum, a great writer, a creative problem solver, and a person who can take complex abstractions, and boil them into simple frameworks? That’s easy. His name is Joe Newsum and his website is Stratechi.com.
I write answers on Quora and periodically, I find professionals who write such great answers, I start following them.
Over the year, I started following Joe Newsum who founded Stratechi. Before moving on, here are some links to check out later:
I was kidding Joe in an email stating that his site was frustrating. When I first found his site, I found it addicting. His frameworks on Stratechi are phenomenal. Picking a favorite is like picking your favorite son or daughter – you can’t.
However, here are a few that stand out:
- Pricing Strategy – all I can say is, “Wow.”
- His Distribution Strategy discussion and framework(s) are amazing – this is a great example of taking a complex process and turning it into a simple framework – very well done.
- The Business Models page should be converted to an app, it’s that good
Also, don’t forget to check out the Leadership page where nearly another hundred pages of frameworks can be found. Like I said, the site is addicting. Be forewarned.
Five Questions for Joe Newsum
When I stumbled on the Stratechi website, I immediately wanted to connect with Joe and ask a few questions. Here are his answers.
CFO Bookshelf: Regarding your time at McKinsey—I have this bias that McKinsey possesses the greatest business minds and thinkers on the planet. Looking back, how did that time at McKinsey shape the professional you are today?
Joe Newsum: McKinsey takes great ambitious minds and molds them into fantastic deductive strategic thinkers who get to work on big problems for big companies. It is amazing to see the career trajectories of many of my peers. I feel like it is the special forces of business, where you get dropped into these big, hairy problems with a team, the McKinsey toolkit and resources, a short time frame, and your wits. All of those projects hone your skills and intuition. I feel like I can typically see the answer pretty quickly in most situations or at least know which direction to head towards.
CFO Bookshelf: How are you helping business owners and leaders today?
Joe Newsum: I focus on helping business owners and leaders at scale with Stratechi.com, which has been a very rewarding way to help hundreds of thousands of businesses and leaders.
The mission of Stratechi is to unlock strategy for the masses. Over the next few years, the challenge is to create scalable products and services to help businesses and leaders solve their own strategy without the use of too many expensive consultants. Companies are consistently much more strategically successful when they create their own vision, problem-solve their own challenges, and develop their own implementation plans.
For too long strategy has been locked up in the black boxes of consulting firms and gurus. We’re going to change that.
CFO Bookshelf: I’m almost mad at you. When I first jumped on your website, I was addicted and had a difficult time pulling myself away. What is Stratechi and who is it for?
Joe Newsum: Always good to hear, and you are not alone in diving into Stratechi’s content. The most rewarding part of developing Stratechi.com is hearing from the professionals who it has positively impacted.
Stratechi.com is a content-rich and a free site on strategy and leadership. We cover most of the main types of strategy including business model, sales, marketing, pricing, product, service, org design, HR, and many others. Each section has an overview, case studies, methodologies on how to create the strategy and free PowerPoint templates.
We also cover the top 100 tools of strategic leaders organized into types of value, competitive dynamics, problem-solving, analytics, strategic options, decision making, process, leadership, planning and projects, and personal development. Each tool has an overview, free downloads, and tips to help incorporate the tool in your professional life.
The site covers almost everything you learn in business school and at a consulting firm like McKinsey. The site is really useful for those that are on the hook to develop a strategy, those looking to learn more about strategy and leadership, and of course, we get a ton of consultants seeking clear and pragmatic approaches to strategy and strategy development.
CFO Bookshelf: Why did you start Stratechi.com?
Joe Newsum: One of the main reasons why I started Stratechi.com was the dearth of cross-functional strategy content. The body of knowledge on strategy has gone two directions. There are the gurus who seem to oversimplify strategy into “do these 3 things to grow”, which can be dangerous for companies. And, then there is a lot of fantastic functional and discipline knowledge, whether it be around sales, marketing, finance, innovation, or org strategy, which is really helpful but can be overkill for many practitioners.
What was missing for me was simple, pragmatic, comprehensive, and actionable approaches to strategy. The other issue I thought needed solving was the cross-functional approach to strategy. While there are great books on sales strategy and marketing strategy and org strategy, they all use different languages and frameworks to often explain the same concepts.
To understand how they relate to each other you have to constantly translate all of this language, verbiage, and visuals to try and distill the interconnectedness and relationships. These are the main drivers of what drove me to create Stratechi.com. It has been an almost ten-year journey to get the content to a level of simplicity and specificity for anyone to learn and apply the frameworks and tools. And, there is still a few decades of work to realize the full vision of Stratechi.com.
CFO Bookshelf: I cannot even guess the number of books in print or out-of-print on business strategy. We have firms that conduct strategic planning workshops and have attempted to sell strategy execution software where I’m assuming the results are mixed. As you meet with CEOs, what is your main message on strategy?
Joe Newsum: For all of the heavily-resourced and detailed strategic planning processes and software platforms out there, it is typically the gifted and focused CEO and her or his leadership team that cuts to the insights and mobilizes the resources better than any strategic planning process or software platform could.
When I talk to CEOs, it is about utilizing strategic planning to hone her or his vision, get buy-in from the team, get people critically thinking about how they and their team are adding to the strategy, and driving alignment of goals and actions.
No software or process can replace the CEO’s role in setting the vision, mobilizing resources, and aligning action. What I often find is good CEOs can become great with stronger strategic planning and governance to help engrain the strategic discipline needed in top teams.
CFO Bookshelf: There is no way that I can let you go without asking about some of your favorite books. And may I also ask the books you most recommend to peers and clients?
Joe Newsum: I get this question a lot. My favorite books are more about the fundamentals and how things work like The Goal, The Innovator’s Dilemma, and Strategy Safari. I’m a big believer that most things can be explained by evolutionary biology and concepts, so I enjoy books like Guns, Germs and Steel, Why Things Bite Back, and the recent Sapiens.
What is Strategy in as Simple Terms as Possible?
Have you heard that question before? Hundreds of times? Joe gives his answer to this fundamental question, and I agree wholeheartedly.
First, I’m thankful for Joe’s generosity of time as he wears multiple hats.
Several suggestions if you are a financial leader:
- study his website
- download some of the templates that resonate
- reverse-engineer the concepts to start developing and growing your own strategic mindset, and finally
- share this site with your CEO and other business leaders
The final verdict – big thumbs up to Joe and Stratechi.com.