Is South Australia our most diverse state, with the greatest opportunities?

Over the last 3 months, I’ve been working on a fantastic project with Food South Australia, to help them develop their 5-year export strategy.

During the course of the project, I’ve discovered some fascinating facts about South Australia, all of which contribute to its uniqueness and ability to provide a rich diversity of food and beverage offerings to the rest of Australia and the world!

Three fun facts I didn’t know before I started the project:

1. South Australia is the only State that convicts weren’t sent to – people willingly settled there!

2. There are around 200 different nationalities that live in South Australia.

3. SA is divided into 3 biomes (areas with similar climates and ecosystems). Two of these are land (arid and Mediterranean) and the third is a marine biome. 

I am delighted to be involved in presenting the export opportunities we have identified at ‘The Annual Food South Australia Summit’ on June 1st 2022. This year’s program is firmly focused on ‘What’s next? What is Tomorrow’s New Normal? 

The summit brings together experts from across a variety of industries to discuss this topic from their perspective and promises to be an enlightening and entertaining day.

Click the link below for more information and to book Early Bird Tickets.

SA Food Summit Tickets

This event is live and virtual.

Like Rome, Great Strategy isn’t built in a day!

Great strategy

Way back in 1538 English Playwright John Heywood said “Rome was not built in a day”. You can be sure though, that every hour of every day there were bricks being laid – helping form the structure that would eventually become the centre of the Roman Empire.

This is how great strategy is built – block by block. Sure, building a strategy is not as grand an undertaking as building an empire but like an empire, it will crumble and fail miserably if the foundations aren’t strong (and this takes time).

Here are the five building blocks of great strategy to master:

1/Identify the Challenge: Create a powerful Challenge Statement

Create a powerful challenge statement that sets an extraordinary business challenge. What is it that you and your organisation seek to achieve by developing and successfully implementing this strategy?

Your challenge statement needs to be:

  • Substantial– big enough to have significant implications for the organisation, business unit, department or brand. 
  • Motivating – make it emotive. Stakeholders must care about it & want it to come to life. 
  • Uncomfortable – stretch the organisation: the solution shouldn’t be obvious or too easy so people feel excited to work on the strategy and want to get stuck in.

2/ Market & Business Analysis: Get the right information

Ensure you collect the right information from the get go! It is important to have all the information on the table at the same time to distinguish between fact-based insights and commonly held beliefs and myths. There are many sources of info:

  • Internal – including financial & non-financial quantitative data  and qualitative info collected through interviews with employees.
  • External – Other data sources include industry reports, future forecasts etc. Interview external stakeholders – suppliers, customers, shareholders etc. to gain a more qualitative assessment and a rich source of info.

3/ Issues &   Opportunities Prioritisation: Focus on what is critical

Identify and focus on the critical – ensure you uncover the root cause of problems, don’t just address the symptoms. There are a number of tools that can be used for the preliminary analysis, including:

  • SWOT/TOWS – Strengths, weakness, opporunities, threats
  • PESTEL – political, economic, social, technological, environmental, legal
  • Porter’s Five Competitive Forces: competitive rivalry, supplier power, buyer power, subsitution threat, new entry thereat. 
  • Value chain– analysis of each activity required to create a product or service to reach the end customer including costs & profit margins.
  • Gap Analysis– compares the gap between the ideal state of how your business needs to operate and how you are operating today.
  • VRIO– value, rarity, imitability, organisation – assess your organisation’s resources to ascertain their potential competitive advantage.

4/ Vision & Strategy Development & Alignment: Get alignment on all key issues

Once you have identified and prioritised the issues and opportunities the next stage is to align on the vision and strategic elements.

These are a few of the tools to assist you in doing this:

  • The balanced scorecard framework, created and made famous by Dr. Robert Kaplan and Dr. David Norton, focuses on identifying the critical measures for areas of business performance beyond just short-term financial metrics. It’s also a valuable guide for what areas your strategy should cover, and to help you get alignment on all key issues.

KISS – keep, improve, stop, start. It’s the KISS of life or death on the activities, initiative behaviours, and attitudes needed to bring each strategic element to life. The exercise is done as as team not in isolation by a leader.

5/ Implementation Plan: Embed implementation and mobilisation into a high-level plan

Embed implementation and mobilisation into a high-level plan. It is essential to include the high-level action plan into strategy. You need to consider the organisation’s capability to implement any strategy from the outset.

While implementation incorporates elements unique to each organisation, its specific challenges, and strategy, the one consistent element is the need to mobilise the people responsible for making it happen. 

Mobilisation is a critical enabler for successful strategy implementation.

Mobilising People to Embrace Change

Successful Implementation

Mobilising the people in your organisation means engaging with them to ensure their intellectual and emotional commitment to implementing the strategy

Understanding The Barriers

During periods of change, outstanding leadership is critical – many people crave trustworthy, courageous, transparent, unwavering, authentic guidance. As a leader, understanding that people respond in differing ways when faced with change is imperative.

As people process the changes, each stage has natural psychological barriers with basic needs to address: 

Stage 1 : DENIAL – Information 

Individuals go through withdrawal and focus on the past. There is activity but not much work gets done. Address this stage with information. 

Let people know change will happen and why the change is need. Wherever possible deliver in person not via email.

Stage 2 : RESISTANCE – Actively listen

In this stage you will see anger, blame, anxiety and depression. Use active listening to effectively deal with resistance. Encourage people to express their feelings without judgement. Be open and authentic about your own feelings about the changes.

Stage 3 : EXPLORATION – Short term goals 

There will be confusion, over-preparation, chaos, energy and potentially a lack of focus. To help people focus, set short term goals to channel their energy and achieve quick wins. 

Stage 4 : COMMITMENT – Long term goals

In this final phase of change, the staff will start working together. You will see better cooperation and improved focus. Once you’ve reached this stage, you can start setting long term goals and looking ahead to the benefits that will occur as a result of the changes. 

Achieving Successful Implementation 

In order to mobilise the people in your organisation to embrace change, you must ensure that the vast majority of those responsible for implementing the strategy possess the following attributes:


Do you believe that any change as a result of implementing the strategy is in your own, your colleagues, and the business’s best interest?


Do you have clarity on your role and understand how success will be evaluated?


Do you feel you have the capabilities required to do the role you’re being asked to fill? If not, will you be supported to develop those capabilities?

Desire to Act

Are you willing to take action in line with the guidelines and timing outlined by the agreed plan?


Will you demonstrate positive attitude and behaviour to support each other?

Fostering a collaborative environment for two-way communication between functions and different groups while also recognising the emotional turmoil that change creates will provide a more supportive environment. With greater transparency comes greater trust and reduced internal resistance to change.

Should You Develop Strategy During Uncertain Times?

Develop Strategy

‘To find where you are going, you must know where you are’ – John Steinbeck

In these uncertain times, having something to anchor you is more important than ever. 

Having a clear strategy – a pathway through the unpredictability can provide a measure of comfort, while what will one day become a historical event plays out.

You may have noticed  the growing day-to-day expectations placed on business leaders. Increased market volatility, more pressure from the competition, greater demands from employees and the community to ‘do the right thing’. And this pressure has only increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Too often, leaders abdicate their responsibility to set a longer-term strategic direction due to a focus on short-term results and a ‘who knows what’s around the corner?’ attitude.

But if your people don’t know the long-term destination of the business and its purpose:

  • You’ll all go in different directions.
  • You won’t build a competitive advantage.
  • Decisions will be made on the fly with no consistency, or
  • They will keep landing back on you, loading the pressure on you as a leader 

The conventional approach to strategy is based on the notion that by employing a set of sophisticated analytic tools, executives can reliably anticipate the future of any firm, allowing them to adopt a clear strategic course. That strategy has shown to be effective in generally steady firms.

However, it tends to fail when the environment is so unclear that no amount of solid analysis can forecast the future.

The future is always uncertain. 

However, by focusing on what you can control, being cognisant of what you can’t, and retaining a predisposition for action, you can succeed even in the most difficult circumstances.

Shaking Off The Straightjacket and Playing to Peoples Strengths

‘Just because you make a good plan, doesn’t mean that’s what’s gonna happen.’ – Taylor Swift, singer and songwriter.

In a business, when a strategy’s implementation plan starts to go awry, the first inkling of a problem is often seen at the coalface, well away from the leader. Therefore, when putting an implementation plan together, be sure to build in flexibility and give people on the frontline the autonomy to make decisions so the implementation plan doesn’t become a straitjacket.

Make sure that everyone understands the ultimate goal, the decision-making guidelines, and the level of autonomy they have to get on and make things happen.

In his book ‘Drive’, Dan Pink asserts that science knows the answers to the secret for high performance and satisfaction for most people, which is often not followed in business. The three elements of motivation are:  autonomy, mastery and purpose. The first thing people crave is autonomy (not the same as flexibility), and there are four main ways it can be granted:

What people do – their task

When to do something – the timing

How to do it – the process

Who they do it with – the people

Rosemi Fitchett @Herman International Asia recognised that Dan Pink’s assertations fit neatly into the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument® (HBDI®) model, which identifies your preferred approach to emotional, analytical, structural, and strategic thinking. It also provides individuals with a significantly increased level of personal understanding.

Knowledge is power and the more we can empower people, the more autonomy they have, the more likely our plans will come to fruition!

Jump Aboard The Bullet Train!

‘Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.Sun Tzu, ancient Chinese strategist, military leader, philosopher, author of The Art of War.  

 At its core, a great strategy is formulated to embed change within your organisation so that you can win in the marketplace. To do this successfully you need to include a representation of those people responsible for its implementation in its design and the process of bringing it to life.

Implementation failures often occur when the people responsible for making it happen don’t understand it, believe in it, or have the capability to carry out the activities required for implementation.

You must mobilise your team, capturing their hearts and minds to ensure that you win their emotional and intellectual commitment to the strategy. If you don’t include the implementors at the beginning of the process, it becomes tough to mobilise a critical mass of stakeholders.

In Strategisation ‘The Art of Mobilising People to Implement a Winning Strategy,’ we take the reader step by step through our KUBA model. Each person in the organisation must KNOW, UNDERSTAND and BELIEVE so they will take ACTION.



  • First, they have to KNOW about it.
  • Explain what it is we’re trying to achieve.


  • Make sure that they UNDERSTAND:
  • Why we’re doing this and what their role will be.
  • ‘What’s In it for them’? (WIIFT)


  • Help them to BELEIVE that they can do it.
  • Give them the right information and guide them in the task.


  • Only when you have these in place will you get ACTION.


Developing and implementing a great strategy should feel like you’re all on the same bullet train together. Nothing will stop you!

STRATEGISATION – Do You Know What Great Looks Like?

When it Comes to Strategy – Do You Know what GREAT looks like?

  • The quality of a strategy can be divided into four categories – Good, Bad, Ugly and Great.

    A good Strategy can be made great by ensuring that you capture the hearts and minds of those who have to implement it. When the key employees, partners and suppliers are committed and engaged, you can then achieve Mobilisation. Mobilisation = ACTION! 

    The Five Key pillars of a Great Strategy:

    • Be brave – ask the tough questions: It’s critical to find out what the source problem is so you can put the right solution in place.
    • Avoid potential Barriers to Implementation: You need to understand the levels of resistance to lead change among key stakeholders: employees, shareholders, suppliers, and others you may be relying on for success.
    • Make Bold Choices: There are many choices to make when developing a great strategy – some decisions are easy, others not so much.
    • Create and Maintain a Competitive Advantage:  There are multitudes of sources of competitive advantage – the critical ones will change by industry. For Eg: Organisational culture and structure, processes and practices, products and intellectual property, assets and natural resources. 
    • Embed Implementation from Day One: Mobilisation is the X-Factor in great strategy. Mobilisation is when you capture the implementors hearts and minds and gain their emotional and intellectual commitment to Act.  

    Why settle for good, when, with a little more awareness, knowledge, and planning – you can make it great? Great Barrier Reef, Great Ocean Road, The Great Australian Bight – Great Strategy !!

The Four Critical Success Factors for Creating Great Strategy

As a business leader responsible for developing a strategy for your business, do you know the 4 critical success factors that must be adhered to to achieve a successful outcome? Here’s a cheat sheet:


  • Do problems in coordination and planning continue to exist despite changes in people?
  • Does the objective structure in your organisation mean success, for one department but mean failure for another?
  • Do operating problems continue to be brought to top management for the resolution of policy issues despite attempts to delegate authority?


  • Does your business have a clear understanding of the market it’s in as a whole and why it generally exists?
  • Will the value created by your organisation’s strategy be disrupted in the current or forecasted changes in economic, social, environmental or societal conditions?
  • Will new technologies or changes to supply chains disrupt the current strategy and create risks to the growth and value creation objectives of your organisation?


Does your organisation:

  • Have relevant and superior RESOURCES for your industry that allow you to do more or do things better than your competitors?
  • Have relevant and superior SKILLS for your industry that allow you to do more or do things better than your rivals?
  • Would it be so costly for rivals to capture that it deters them from attacking this business?


Has your organisation:

  • Got the physical, human, and ­financial resources available?
  • Demonstrated it possesses the problem-solving abilities and/or special competencies required by the strategy?
  • Demonstrated the degree of coordination and integrative skill required to carry out the strategy?
  • Does your strategy challenge and motivate key personnel and is it acceptable to those who must lend their support?


MEDIA RELEASE – STRATEGISATION – 67% of Strategies FAIL to be Successfully Implemented

Business leaders worldwide know the frustration of having painstakingly developed a strategy for their business only to have it consigned to a filing cabinet somewhere on the cloud, because it falls at the final hurdle – implementation.

Strategy implementation fails for a variety of reasons. Errors can include: thinking that setting goals and prioritising initiatives is a strategy, addressing symptoms without addressing root cause issues, wasting millions on using big ‘consulting’ firms, and the biggest pitfall of all – not mobilising your people (from the coalface to the boardroom) in the development of the strategy from the get-go.

“Mobilisation of a strategic population within an organisation is the critical success factor that ensures strategy implementation is effective. If you don’t engage your people emotionally and intellectually and galvanise them to act, your strategy is just words on a page, destined for costly failure.” Mike Harley, the co-author of ‘Strategisation – The Art of Mobilising People to Implement a Winning Strategy’, says.

Mike is a seasoned marketer and business leader – with 35 years of international corporate and consulting experience. In ‘Strategisation’, he has developed a framework and a step-by-step guide to achieving successful implementation by mobilising the people in your organisation. He describes mobilisation as ‘The Glue’ that holds the framework together, “Mobilisation is what turns the wheels, it is what provides the momentum, the movement the action”, he says.

Richard Goodrich, Managing Director – Aprais Pty Ltd, says, ‘Strategisation is a seriously impressive guide both intellectually and practically. The advice, context, and recommendations are truths that experienced business and marketing professionals would do well to refresh themselves with. Equally, as much as the next generation will learn if they are smart enough read it.’

Strategisation (ISBN 978-1-922553-66-9) is available NOW at $34.95 RRP. Free shipping within Australia. Bicycles4Humanity – Melbourne will receive a $5 donation from each website sale. Also available at Amazon and Booktopia in hard copy and eBook formats. Free Book Launch Webinar at 5 pm AEDT on Monday, December 6th, 2021.

For registration, click on the link: FREE WEBINAR REGISTRATION

Contact: Lorraine Harley, XPotential ANZ

Phone: 0431 872 331



Mike Harley is available for interviews.

Super: Heroes, Glue and Claiming

Does it Always matter Who's Quickest?

Have you noticed that sometimes it’s the slow, quiet, steady ones to look out for? They’re not always flying around, capes flapping! They seemingly come from nowhere, pip you at the post & steal your glory, just like in ‘The Tortoise and the Hare‘ fable?

Speed isn’t always about running fast but running wise. There’s proof that the more thinking (planning) you do before you act, the faster you will go! XPotential founder Steve Sowerby, suggests using these 4 elements when prepping for race day in the competition for consumer loyalty:

🦸 Build on a Strong, Deep Consumer Insight: know your customer & how to reach them effectively

🦸 Create Win, Win, Win Opportunities: design your initiative to meet key stakeholders expectations

🦸 Define Success Early: ensure you’ve defined the expected outcome & align everyone to the end goal

🦸 Swallow your pride & ‘Ask for help’: don’t try to do it all yourself. Collaboration is critical in creating speed.

The Power of Mobilisation

Mobilisation sits at the centre of our Strategisation model; it is the super glue that holds the whole thing together. The other 4 elements – Strategy, Capability, People and Performance are all equally important, but without Mobilisation bonding them together, they’re just 4 separate entities.  

Recognising how critically important it is to get everybody in your organisation – (from the coal face to the boardroom) aligned and emotionally and intellectually engaged is the secret to successful strategy implementation.

Only when the people in your organisation are fully committed, galvanised, and empowered to take action will you achieve mobilisation.

Innovation doesn’t always have to mean starting from scratch

Sometimes you can ‘tweak’ what you’ve already got – whether is an existing product, formula, packaging or process – think of it as a fresh coat of paint! We call this tool  ‘SUPERCLAIMING’ .

Consider SuperClaiming as ‘up-cycling’ your product or brand. A rapid, low risk, cost -effective way of breathing new life into ‘cash-cows’ to keep them relevant.


🏆 Breathes life into the “old” without taking focus away from developing the “new”

🏆 Finds a compelling way to speak with consumers about what they did not know about your product or brand

🏆 A tactical offensive/defensive measure against the competition

🏆 Insulates core products from over cannibalisation

🏆 Delivers relevant new news and outstanding ROI

Words: Jargon, Buzz words, New words

If I hear 'Pivot' one more time.....

It’s been a long haul here in Melbourne, but we’ve finally reached the point this week of slowly being released from the restrictions that have changed our lives over the last 18 months. I’ve been reflecting on the changes in our vocabulary’s during this time and noticed that there are a lot of new words that have become part of our everyday language. Some I love, some drive me nuts!

Since March 2020 we’ve pivoted, self-isolated, quarantined and smart-coded ourselves.  We’ve been locked down, curfewed, sanitised, zoomed, skyped and socially distanced!

There were essential workers, key workers and authorised workers. We flattened the curve, monitored community spread, contact traced and aimed for herd immunity.

My personal favourite though is the ‘covidiot’. The urban dictionary defines them as “someone who ignores the warnings regarding public health or safety. A person who hoards goods, denying them from their neighbours.” (mostly toilet paper!)

During the Covid time, I’ve invented a new word of my own, and together with my partner, we’ve even written a book about it – ‘Strategisation’  The Art of Mobilising People to Implement a Winning Strategy. Strategisation isn’t really a word but rather one we have adopted as it represents what, to us, is the most critical aspect of a successful strategy – mobilising your people. Strategisation suggests movement, action, motion.To ensure that people in your organisation are willing to take action, maintain momentum and move forward (implement your strategy) you must fully engage them emotionally and intellectually. People must own the outcomes and be invested in the process.

During the development phase of this book, we researched various words and noted, with interest, that all the definitions of strategy include a reference to uncertain and uncontrollable environments. This suggests a need for agility and flexibility.

Wikipedia describes strategy as a: ‘general plan to achieve one or more long-term or overall goals under conditions of uncertainty’.

While the Oxford dictionary’s definition is ‘ a detailed plan for achieving success in situations such as warpoliticsbusiness industry, or sport, or the skill of planning for such situations

My working definition is: ‘A strategy is an integrated set of choices that uniquely positions your organisation in the market to create sustainable competitive advantage and superior value through its effective implementation.’

Another word I stumbled upon recently is ‘ambidextrous’ which means ‘the ability to use the right and left hands equally well ‘, but I’ve been wondering if it could also be applied to the way we use our brains. I was pondering this primarily with marketing people in mind. In their roles, marketers spend a lot of time heavily skewed to the left brain: analytical and methodical thinking. But, when it comes to meetings with creative people (e.g. advertising agencies) we need to put the left side on ice & ‘fire-up’ our right brain: the artistic & imaginative side. This allows our minds to open up & access empathy – to think, feel & walk in the shoes of our target market.

It’s critical for marketers to learn to access and utilise both sides of their brains when evaluating advertising proposals from their agencies. In our ‘Fanning the Spark’ Creative Approval learning program, we challenge participants to ‘start right’ before ‘moving left’:

🔥Suspend any left-brain preferences at first evaluation

🔥Develop and listen to your ‘gut’

🔥Respect ‘soft’ data – learn empathy towards your target audience

🔥Be flexible to get contributions of others

🔥Then insist on & analyse hard data – does it meet the brief?

Keep an open mind – both left and right sides!