While the engagement kicked off at nominally the worst possible time – in March, just ahead of lockdown – there was a silver lining. “We wanted a fast turnaround and, despite COVID, the team really put the foot down and got onto it,” notes Carr.
In fact, he says lockdown served as an accelerator for the Strategy Validation exercise. “This is something the board of directors had known we needed to do, but the time to get it done was elusive. With lockdown, people in our business, customer base and the wider industry had time and that allowed deeper thinking and engagement for a piece of work considered crucial to our future direction.”
In its initial engagement, Assurity found that the successful business lacked a unifying purpose statement. In practical terms, this was causing the company to fracture into operational siloes across its operational units. While Carr, the MD, and his board had a firm notion of the company’s future, the challenge was bringing along every staff member, as well as the broader industry with which the company engages – and, specifically, its customers.
Taking an inclusive approach to gauge inputs from across the value chain in which Carrfields operates, Assurity set about gathering quantitative and qualitative data on which to make decisions on the company’s strategy. Executed through a series of workshops identifying what Carrfields is to a range of sectors and customers, the work also brought in the views of a cross-section of industry experts, securing multiple vantage points.
The views of typical agricultural specialists was augmented with, for example, input from the head of the New Zealand Vegan Society and American company Impossible Foods, which produces plant-based substitutes, to gain perspectives on a possible ‘meatless society’. Other contributors included Venkies, India’s biggest chicken producer, NZ Young Farmer of the Year nominees, customers who have positive sentiments towards Carrfields, and also those who have negative sentiments.
The initial work culminated in a company workshop in which representatives from across Carrfields were strategically selected. For a wide range of inputs, participation went beyond company executives to include frontline staff, as well as promising up-and-comers. Again, this reflects the inclusive approach favoured by Assurity Consulting, recognising that every staff member must be aligned to turn strategy into action.
Care was taken in the workshop design, resulting in a seamless, engaging and thought-provoking set of activities which encouraged ‘natural collaboration’. This contributed to a broader understanding of Carrfields’ purpose, resulting in an ideation and prototyping session. In due course, a cohesive report was presented to Carrfields’ board.