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In Casino Royale, James Bond is in a putrid, rusty ship’s hull tied to a chair. He is naked, his arms and legs are bound. The bottom of the seat has been removed. The evil criminal is trying to extort the password. He knots the thick rope and proceeds to swing it up under the seat to Bond’s agony. Bond screams – he doesn’t give up the password.

This feels uncannily similar, at times, to working through the Strategic Consulting in Practice (SCiP) module. I’m James Bond of course.

In reality it’s not that bad we weren’t in a rusty ship.

SCiP is an intense week, where we are given the opportunity to work on a current strategic issue facing a real life client. It is the fruition of all our toil, which we can bring to bear on the client’s strategic issue analysing over a few days. It closes with a presentation direct to the client with an opportunity for them to delve deeper into the analysis.

We were fortunate to work with Clydesdale Bank’s small and emerging business banking division – Business Direct. Their current issue is how to differentiate themselves and become a dominant force in the small and emerging business banking space.

Through the client brief and subsequent interviews, we were able to understand more of what was required, cutting to the heart of their expectations. This enabled the group to set a course of action to deliver on this…it was at this point I got dragged down into the ship’s hull.

The wealth of strategic tools and theories at our fingertips is overwhelming, and knowing which to apply to achieve the best possible outcome is unknown. Therefore there was a belief that through covering the majority of the tools in two days would provide robust conclusions. This was when the knotted rope started swinging.

Fast forward issue surfacing, scenario planning, stakeholder analysis, competitive landscape analysis, strategic space analysis, business idea development, market context, SWOT analysis and a partridge in a pear tree, and we arrived at presentation day. The presentation was a great opportunity to present our ideas and have them tested in the real world context, with all teams’ analysis and recommendations challenged rigorously by Business Direct.  The team from Business Direct found real insight and value in our analysis, believing that many of the strategic options were well considered and realisable.

The concept behind SCiP is excellent and the time pressure forces the team to move at pace. It is under these intense periods that group dynamics play an important role, and it is paramount that everyone is utilised to the best of their abilities. It is certainly a once in a lifetime learning experience; meaning you’d only ever want to do it once in your lifetime.

Anyways must dash, I see the guys are coming back with more rope.