Comfort(ing) food for thought

After some unseasonally warm weather this week in London (might help me adjust to +30 degrees C in Dubai next week) it’s brisker today and feels truly autumnal. It’s that time of year when my appetite switches up a gear and my food tastes change to comfort foods.

It’s a good frame of mind to be in as I read a very interesting column by the FT’s Andrea Felsted today on the progress of Marc Bolland’s strategic review of Marks and Spencer’s. Upon becoming Chief Executive he was much criticized for refusing to discuss strategy until he had completed a 6 month review but such a sober approach seems to be entirely in line with the Dutchman’s sober and customer dominated approach which has served him well at Heineken and Wm Morrison.

The six months will soon be up and Felsted refers to 20 “work streams” which feed into the strategy – so this has not been cooked up in isolation by an inner sanctum. It strikes me that his six months in the kitchen will result in a feast of initiatives which will serve this eponymous retailer very well.

I’ve seen a number of strategic reviews at close hand. Most have been mediocre at best. Failing to engage the organisation is up there as the biggest crime, exceeded only by the review being based on only a few opinions and therefore very shallow insights. The other shortcoming is not resourcing the post-review period properly so that the new strategy withers on the vine. Keeping up the food analogy – it’s like a soufflé being moved from a hot oven to a cold kitchen.

Time will tell if Marc Bolland will be successful, I have a feeling he will be.

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