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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

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