Strategy Fundamentals for the strategy function: Developing robust strategies

4 - 7 October 2021

In person central London location.  if restrictions still apply will transition to virtual 5 day offering. 


Strategy is about making choices about where and where not to play, how to win in your chosen space, where to invest and disinvest and how to allocate resources between many competing priorities. When you make these choices, you never know everything you would like to know. Strategy is fundamentally about making decisions under uncertainty.


These skills are not systematically developed during a career spent in operations or specialised positions, but they are core skills for members of the strategy function. The aim of the Strategic Management Center (SMC) Strategy Bootcamp is to help your strategy team or incoming senior leaders boost their understanding of strategic thinking and develop the specific skills they need to perform their role effectively, regardless of their background.  Given the current challenges facing company strategists, the 2020 version will add an updated focus on resetting strategy and managing strategy through uncertainty.



The strategy team is often deliberately composed of diverse individuals with varying backgrounds. While this diversity can strengthen the team, it often means that the strategy background of individuals can be limited.  As we work closely with strategy leaders and their teams and understand their challenges, we created this course to equip members of these teams with what they need to perform their roles and enable participants to share experiences with people playing the same role in other companies. 

The Bootcamp covers the following areas:

  • *NEW: Resetting strategy: Growing out of a downturn through Survive- Reset – Thrive

  • Strategy, value creation and competitive advantage, and the key pieces of a strategy story

  • Strategic analysis, the tools, frameworks, and analytical approaches to strategy

  • Framing of strategic options, choices, and prioritising strategic issues

  • Strategy, finance, and creating a business case

  • Communicating strategy and the first steps of implementation

  • Corporate-level and portfolio strategy

  • *NEW: Strategy under extreme uncertainty


Participants will be required to complete a limited amount of pre-work and reading ahead of the course, and there will be an optional post-course webinar.  All course content and readings will be available online post program.


The program includes opportunities to practice skills through group exercises and discussions, case studies, building a business case, and the application of strategy tools to examples from the delegate group.


By the end of the program participants will understand the key aspects of strategy, value creation and strategic analysis and be able to apply these to developing, analysing, executing, and reviewing strategies inside their organisations.


Specifically, the Bootcamp enables participants to:

  • Define what strategy is and is not, and link strategy to value creation

  • Understand the drivers of competitive advantage and how advantage can be sustained over time

  • Be able to use a range of strategy tools and frameworks

  • Put together the key pieces of a final strategy story

  • Use a structured approach to defining strategic issues and to generating and evaluating options

  • Describe the entire strategy design process, from evaluating the external environment through to identifying options and picking the best one

  • Use financial techniques to help make better business decisions

  • Use the Pyramid principle to produce a concise communication of the proposed strategy

  • Describe what is meant by risk and how risk relates to returns required, setting performance targets, and making complex business decisions

  • Describe how to value a company as part of achieving capital growth

  • Use three lenses to understand corporate strategy (business, value added, capital markets) and use them to evaluate the current portfolio and make required parenting choices

  • Deploy several practical tools to help them adopt a more appropriate approach towards making strategic decisions under uncertainty

Day 1 - Strategy, value creation and competitive advantage: Resetting your strategy for growth

Day one begins by setting the scene of the challenge facing company strategists of how to rethink and possible reset strategy.  We introduce strategy, value creation and competitive advantage and the key steps of both building a robust strategy and resetting the strategy when the situation changes.  Through an interactive discussion based on company case examples, we discuss how strategies create value and the decisions a senior leadership team must make to develop one. Then we introduce the key aspects of the strategy story, including: What is the situation and how could this change? Where will we play? How will we win? What could stop us? So, what should we do? Then using these questions as a guide, we will explore different aspects of strategy. We use case studies to discuss strategy and value creation; how an organisation can develop and execute on a simple strategy for growth; and how to organize internally for external advantage. As any advantage is temporary, we will spend the latter part of the session considering how we can sustain competitive advantage over time, especially when facing macroeconomic headwinds.


Day 2 – Strategic analysis

This day goes deeper into the role of a strategy analyst and covers key tools, frameworks and approaches to strategic decisions and choices. An extract from the book “What You Need to Know About Strategy” will introduce six strategy questions that can be used to structure strategic analysis. We discuss how it is possible to have a short strategy process (focusing rapidly on the issues and options) or a more thorough, rigorous process (doing a lot of work on diagnosing the situation) and when each of these approaches is most appropriate. We also use a case study about a coffee shop chain throughout the day to evaluate the external environment, identify options and pick the best one. We conclude with a discussion of the analytical tools used at participants’ companies and some practical issues such as what data to collect and how to prioritise different types of analysis.


Day 3 – Strategy and finance and creating a business case

Day three covers a critical aspect of strategy by linking strategy to financial analysis. We examine how we can use financial techniques to help us to make better business decisions and prepare a business case. We cover topics including creating shareholder value and the evaluation of business decisions and investment opportunities.  Participants will have the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of investment appraisal through the completion of a short but comprehensive and realistic case study.  We also cover risk and return and explore how we can use these insights in setting performance targets and making business decisions. Building and presenting a business case is a fundamental and practical skill every senior business manager should know, and we apply the tools and techniques covered during the program to do this.  Finally, as the role of a company board is to maximise the returns to shareholders, this final session explores four different ways of valuing a company, how to apply them and how to select the one that is appropriate to the circumstances.


Day 4 – Skills of the strategist

This day builds on the previous days to cover three more specific topics:  communicating strategy, corporate strategy and portfolio management. We will use the pyramid principle to help participants write better slides and presentations, using various examples, including the presentations from the previous days’ business cases.  As corporate strategy is distinct from company or business unit strategy, we next introduce three lenses on corporate strategy and apply them to a case study.* 

* (This session is based on our 2014 book on corporate strategy, Strategy for the Corporate Level)

Day 5 – Strategy under high uncertainty

On this final day we will draw on SMC’s latest work in the strategy arena to consider how to approach strategy and strategic decisions in an environment of high uncertainty.  We will consider the nature of the problems posed by uncertainty, consider how some people manage to turn them into an opportunity and explore a way of identifying different kinds of uncertainty which demand different approaches.  We will then go through each element of what we call the ‘exploratory approach’, using examples from business, but also considering the challenges posed by Covid-19 as a classic example of an unexpected (though not unpredictable) high-impact event which has challenged many of our traditional practices. We will end by sharing ideas about what the strategy function can do to change them.


The program is designed for analysts in corporate or BU strategy roles, team members in business development positions, or senior functional heads. However, business unit heads or other senior executive roles who wish for a refresher on strategy will equally benefit from the course. All participants are assumed to have strategic responsibilities within their role or be soon moving into a related role, though no explicit strategy background is required.


Dates: October 4 – 7 2021. 

Location:  We will be confirming end of Q1 whether the bootcamp will take place in person or virtual as well as final fees (that will adjust with virtual programmes)


Costs: The standard fee for this four-day programme is £5,000 plus VAT (£4,000 for SMC members). Places booked by 12 July 2021 qualify for an early bird discount and are available up to then for only £3,500 plus VAT. If the programme takes place in person in central London participants will be responsible for arranging and paying for their own accommodation.


The faculty members (Rebecca Homkes, Jo Whitehead, Stephen Bungay and David Smith) are all experienced executive teachers and consultants who are involved in supporting and researching the work of the strategy function and bring their expertise in executive teaching, advising, and consulting corporate strategy leaders as well as decades of research on these topics.  See more on our core faculty


For more information, please contact SMC Director Rebecca Homkes at


To book places, please contact Angela Scuttts at

2020 Bootcamp Materials