My clients include leading companies in most industries—from retailing and consumer goods to autos and banking, from mining and construction to ITC and pharmaceuticals—and I‘ve worked on a wide range of assignments across these sectors, with teams and individuals from the C-suite to the shop floor.
This exposure, plus my own time as an executive, give me a keen sense of the issues managers must deal with, what they mean to people at every level, and how to deal with them.
But that’s not all.
Along with consulting, lecturing and speaking, I keep up an intensive programme of research and writing. This keeps me abreast of changes in the business environment and of the latest management concepts, trends, and best practices. And it enables me to continually develop new insights and ideas, plus many unique tools—models, frameworks, and questionnaires—that are both powerful and practical.
I understand the complexities in business—and also how to cut through clutter and simplify things. And I bring this hard-earned knowledge and experience to each new project.
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT, GOT THE T-SHIRT
For three decades, I’ve watched executives wrestle with strategy. I’ve seen them skip from one fad to another, flailing desperately for “the solution.” I’ve listened to them argue about various processes for creating strategy, and learned first-hand how hard it is to turn good plans into action.
When I began consulting, I used tools that were popular at the time—vision and mission statements, values exercises, and so on. (As a result, and because of other expert views on these notions, I now have a serious aversion to them!) I also worked with ideas like Porter’s generic strategies and five forces, idealized design, and scenarios. And then there were core competence, hyper-competition, speed, resilience, reframing, blue oceans, disruption….
I spent years working on change management, worker participation, productivity improvement, customer service—turning strategy into action on the front line in factories, mines, and offices. Along the way, I dealt with top executives and trade unions, with scientists, sales people, accountants, and university professors who came to me with different problems requiring different solutions.
At the same time, I studied every aspect of management, talked to prominent thinkers to better understand their ideas, and kept looking for better answers. And I put big chunks of time every day into studying the environment—to understand the economy, politics, social trends, technology, and the host of other factors that impact on companies and competitiveness.
MAKING IT SIMPLE
With a background in advertising, marketing, and writing, my quest was driven by a conviction that:
- Business success is about making a difference for the right customers
- Communication lies at the centre of business performance.
- Simpler is better
As new ideas have come to market, I’ve asked, “What does this really mean? Does it make sense? Is there evidence to support it? How does it build on or fit with other ideas. How can it be used? Will busy managers actually be able to use it—and will it help them get the results they want? Is there a better way?”
My approach is the product of countless hours thinking about these things, plus my experience in hundreds of consulting assignments and strategy workshops involving thousands of executives. And I keep testing it against the insights and opinions that continue to come from leading researchers and thinkers.
- Twenty years of experience in media, advertising and marketing, including Chairman and CEO of the McCann-Erickson advertising agency in South Africa and head of Marketing for Coca-Cola in Southern and Central Africa.
- Council Member of the Institute of Directors in Southern Africa from 1996-2003 and Chairman from 1999-2001. Fellow and Honorary Life Member since 2004.
- Author of 13 books on management: Communicating For Change, The New Age Strategist, Business Strategy In The New South Africa, World Class!, The Race To Learn, Radical Strategy, Making Sense of Strategy, Discovering The Essence of Leadership, Competing Through Value Management, Tony Manning’s Management Toolkit, Delivering The Dream, and What’s Wrong With Management And How To Get It Right. (These books are used in universities, business schools, and major corporations.) Latest book, The Critical Core, to be published March 2017 by Penguin Random House.
- Editor of Trends Transforming South Africa.
- Author of numerous articles in newspapers and magazines. Many guest appearances on radio and TV.
- Lecturer on senior executive programmes at various universities and business schools. Adjunct Faculty member at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), University of Pretoria.
- Keynote speaker at major conferences.