Part One of a two-part interview with the Authors of Optimizing Strategy for Results: A Structured Approach to Make Your Business Come Alive
By The TCL Team
We all did a little something different during our extended time at home during the early days of the pandemic. With Zoom as our new neighborhood hangout, we worked, exercised, and socialized. For authors Dr. Timothy Waema, Ron Price, and Dr. Evans Baiya, it was the perfect time to collaborate on a book they had been dreaming of for years.
From their homes across the world in Boise, ID, and Nairobi, Kenya, the authors pooled together their collective knowledge on strategy, leadership, and innovation to write Optimizing Strategy for Results: A Structured Approach to Make Your Business Come Alive. This step-by-step model is meant to help leaders prepare, create, and optimize great strategy—making those elusive “how’s” and “what’s” of successful strategic planning clear.
We sat down with the authors to talk about how their collaboration began and how it changed the way they feel about strategy.
Nichole MacDowell (NM): Being that we are all across the globe, the first question that I want to ask is, how did you all come to know each other? How did you all come to collaborate on this book in the first place?
Ron Price (RP): Well, I will say that Evans is our connector. Evans is the guy who knew us both and who got us introduced to each other. Because Evans splits his time between the United States and Kenya, he was the person who made it possible for us to collaborate together.
Dr. Timothy Waema (TW): That is true, we actually met for the first time when Ron and Evans were launching the book on innovation, The Innovator’s Advantage. Ron, actually, is the one who pushed us to do something together because of the complementarity that we have.
NM: Why did you decide to collaborate on this book in particular?
Dr. Evans Baiya (EB): When it comes to strategy, we are all passionate about the subject. We all practice strategy, we all help our clients practice strategy. That was the point that connected us from an intellectual standpoint. We looked at some of the opportunities and gaps that exist in the practice, and we found that we have not only different perspectives on this, but also we have very creative and even innovative approaches to delivering strategy for clients. That was just very, very interesting for us to work on something together.
But that is the technical side of this. The social side of this is that Ron, who is driven to collaborate, kept reminding us that we need to do something to get us process.
RP: When the pandemic took hold in March of 2020, we said, hey, this is the perfect time. So, we started meeting every Friday—for me, it’s Friday morning, for them, it was Friday afternoon in Nairobi—and took it one chunk at a time. We each had writing assignments and would share the results to discuss at our next meeting.
I can’t even begin to imagine how many edits this book has been through now. Because we wanted to really do something that was collaborative, that was the result of learning together and learning from each other. And eventually we opened it up to other people for their feedback and input as well.
NM: So, speaking of the collaborative process—writing a book over Zoom. Talk to me a little bit about some of the challenges of that process and some of the things that were wonderful about it.
RP: Because we come from three different experiences with strategy, we had a lot of great debates. We didn’t just take off and keep going. There were stops and starts because of disagreements about different things. And that enriched the process. I really loved this collaboration because it wasn’t just all harmony but there was good debate that improved our thinking as we went.
TW: We didn’t feel the pressure—it actually didn’t feel like we were writing a book. We just looked forward to seeing each other every Friday. It was interesting to work on specific bits that I had picked for the week and to see how the others would respond to what I thought. And I looked forward to what the others had written about specific parts that they picked to write about.
RP: Evans doesn’t like to give homework or assignments. He calls it giving gifts. At the end of each session, we would each get our gifts. And I have to say that these two gentlemen were so generous to me, they gave me so many gifts that I’ll always be grateful!
TW: I think you were also generous in giving gifts.
RP: I think it’s more blessing to give than receive.
NM: Working collaboratively in writing this book, you all had different experiences with strategy and different ways that you delivered it to your clients. Did working together change how you feel about strategy or how you will deliver strategy in the future?
EB: I’m going to change the way I do strategy by challenging my clients to think deeper. Strategy is not about the document. It’s not about checking a box that we have a strategy in the organization. It’s about thinking deeply and collaboratively by creating options. Out of those options, then you can pick goals and objectives. Don’t just copy and paste a past goal or goal from somebody else. No, you have the power to think! I thought the section by Prof. on strategic options was just an amazing input for the book.
RP: What Prof. presented to us about developing strategic options was a great addition to my toolbox. I’ve used it in several strategy projects since we started talking about it and found that it’s very invigorating. It really elevates the energy level for the people working on strategy significantly because it gives them a lot more confidence.
Look out for Part 2 of our interview with the authors of Optimizing Strategy for Results: A Structured Approach to Make Your Business Come Alive. Purchase the book on Amazon, follow Ron Price, Dr. Evans Baiya, and Dr. Timothy Waema on LinkedIn, and learn more about strategy at optimizingstrategyforresults.com.