Why We Trashed a Workshop Agenda

Thinking about strategyI just spent 3 days workshopping with one of my clients and the eCommerce consulting director of a major eCommerce platform supplier.

And it was probably the most valuable 3 days I’ve spent this year.

About 2 months ago my client launched an eCommerce site. And to say the results to date have been underwhelming would be understating it in the extreme. They suck.

The original reason for setting up the workshop was not, however, to address the performance of the current site. It was to plan for the site that’s to be developed for my client’s other brand.

None the less, as all good consultants do, they soon got into asking the innocent sounding questions, and it wasn’t long before World War 3 broke out.

The questions were not about the performance of the current site. They were about the company’s overall business strategy and how the eCommerce strategy fitted into that.

Not only did it expose the fact that different members of the Executive team had different views as to the reason for going online in the first place, but decisions taken both before and after the launch of the first site had taken it in yet another direction.

The result of that one meeting was to trash the planned agenda and take the entire 3-day workshop down a totally different track.

Which ultimately resulted in agreement at the Executive level on the business strategy, the eCommerce strategy and its positioning against the company’s other channels.

It’s now up to the project team to implement that strategy. And, although the workshop only finished yesterday, so the actual implementation hasn’t started yet, we’re all fired up and focused on the same thing.

So I’d say the chances of the eCommerce strategy being turned around are pretty high.

But what was my main take away from this (admittedly exciting and sometimes pretty heated) 3 days?

The importance of standing back from your business, clearly articulating what you want from it and defining how your online presence is going to contribute to achieving that.

It’s not glamorous. And many people (including me) have often written or talked about the need to take action – stop analysing and get something out there.

But you do need to do the analysis. You do need to know what you’re trying to achieve and how your online presence is going to contribute to achieving it.

Here’s what the eCommerce team at my client can now do, that they couldn’t do before:

… in less than 30 seconds they can articulate the company’s primary business objectives, how the eCommerce channel fits into that and how it interacts with the company’s other channels.

Being able to do that tells people what we’re up to – with startling clarity.

Can you describe that for your business – in less than 30 seconds?


Martin Malden

What do you think?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Karin H Apr 29, 2010 @ 18:56

    Hi Martin

    Isn’t it always surprising that most things in the end come down what should be done first?

    Strategy first, then tactics and only then combining/finding the tools that can implement this as best (which is not always the same as quick) as possible.
    Starting backwards – because everyone in online, everyone is on Twitter etc – could be nice for the ego (look at our number of fans on Facebook!) but if you don’t know what this particular tool will add/help to your strategy it is a waste of money/time/effort.

    And with all strategy/tactics decisions comes something else too: accountability 😉 Workshops are nice, like brainstorm sessions etc, especially when new and exciting plans are written out, many – really many – businesses fail to follow up on accountability (and then a few months later a new workshop/brainstorm session takes place to see why things haven’t improved ;-))

    Karin H (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

    • Martin Apr 29, 2010 @ 21:52

      Hi Karin,

      So true, so true..!

      And that may well happen with my client. But there is definitely a different atmosphere in the team now (at least there was when I left last night) than there was last week.

      If we can sustain that, then we’re a lot better off than before. If not, then …

      … well, you know the rest. 🙂



  • Karin H Apr 29, 2010 @ 22:41

    Then my friend you’ll have to follow-up more strictly 😉

    as any adviser should IMHO, not only deliver the ideas/plans/road map but also follow up on progress made and even dare to hold them accountable.

    (I speak from experience: my mentor follows up relentlessly on the progress made and dear me if none or not enough to his liking is made! ;-))

    Karin H

    • Martin Apr 29, 2010 @ 22:50

      Fear not…

      I will be following up super closely – with a bit of luck I’ll get my contract extended..! 🙂