ONWARD: Reimagining Strategy

August 9, 2018

By Eric Belcher

Our ONWARD series continues. We’ve come to the letter R, which is appropriate, as “reimagining” ourselves characterizes the path we’ve taken over the past few years.

This reminded me of the educational program taught by Harvard Business School professors Cynthia A. Montgomery and Srikant M. Datar titled Reimagining Strategy. It advocates emphasizing creativity in strategic thinking so challenges can be reframed and the latest insights, techniques and concepts can be explored. That’s because, all too often, organizations find themselves mired in a strategy that’s become stale or obsolete – and they don’t know how to implement or break free.

“(Companies) need something bolder and more disruptive, but still very simple. They need reimagination,” agree Christopher A.H. Vollmer, Matthew Egol, Naseem Sayani and Raisa Park of Strategy& (a PwC firm) in Reimagine your enterprise: Make human-centered design the heart of your digital agenda.

Montgomery notes that “Reimagining Strategy is distinctly different,” adding that injecting creativity into strategy development can help executives and managers avoid being “velcroed” to a strategy that was appropriate in the past but may be irrelevant or ineffective today.

“It can be very difficult to break free,” she adds. The strategy they teach “gives executives the opportunity to step back from their day-to-day work, see their strategic challenges with fresh eyes, and gain the inspiration and, most importantly, the tools they need to revitalize their strategy.”

The ultimate goal: a new playbook for formulating a powerful and unique strategy.

In Cast & Crew’s case, Reimagining Strategy has been doubly relevant because, although it began as a method for sparking product innovation, it’s now a powerful tool for rethinking and revitalizing strategy. For us, it has been beneficial in both ways – helping to drive our digital product strategy and rollout as well as helping to provide direction to bring Cast & Crew, CAPS and Final Draft into a combined entity.

We’ve carefully identified our customers’ needs and then overlaid those needs onto our product, service, process and business model. This has enabled us to reframe our key challenges and fundamentally change how we think about strategy and our overall business. “Emphasizing right-brained creativity and left-brained analytics, this approach enables leaders to envision their strategy in a new light, find novel opportunities for innovation, and gain inspiration,” Montgomery says.

So, what are the tangible examples in the 2018 version of Cast & Crew? Several immediately come to mind: the exciting pace at which we are hiring and training new team members; development of our Studio+ production-workflow solution; creation of our enhanced Customer Care department; the close working relationship between our Product and Marketing teams in bringing our products to market; our upgraded budgeting process, and our quarterly business reviews.

The approach has been revolutionary (there’s another R word!). We’ve experienced dramatic and wide-reaching changes in conditions, attitudes and operations. Interestingly, sometimes we were the deliberate catalyst to change, and other times, we were just interested participants.

I’ve heard this from many colleagues, at all levels of the company: “It often feels like a brand-new company around here!” This is especially true as we combine the great attributes of the company from the past, with the focused vision of the future

There’s a good reason for that.

It’s “a new way of life for business,” write the Strategy& team. “(This approach) evokes many of the attributes of a startup – creativity, speed, bias for action, flexibility with risk, and radical collaboration. To achieve this entrepreneurial vigor in your company, you may have to consciously break down long-established internal barriers.”

So, yes, our legacy is payroll. But our future is as well. You just have to reimagine it. And we do, and we see that our offering extends far beyond just what payroll used to be. We view ourselves now as not merely the partner who processes our clients’ production payroll, but as enablers of great content.

In reimagining strategy, we also recognize that truly innovative companies have a common denominator: they thrive on change. We’d like to believe that we’re doing the same for the entertainment payroll industry.

As technology continues to advance, so does Cast & Crew’s entrepreneurial spirit and our vision of what is possible. And when the vision needs updating, we are more than happy to reimagine it.

ONWARD!

Eric Belcher is Chief Executive Officer at Cast & Crew Entertainment Services. He has more than 30 years’ experience in the motion picture, television, publishing and new media industries.