Craigmore Sustainables (Craigmore) is a private Kiwi company specialising in the investment and management of over 40 farm and forest properties across New Zealand; with over 250 permanent staff. They work with global capital partners to build and manage farm, orchard and forest businesses, currently covering over 18,000 hectares.
Their aim is to produce food and fibre which is sought after around the globe and which leads the way in sustainable practices, while also benefiting Aotearoa’s rural communities.
What Was The Challenge That Brought You to AGLX?
Craigmore had been growing rapidly, with investment continuing to flow in.
The Chief Operating Officer, Mark Edghill* says this growth was causing them challenges:
- Craigmore needed a clear strategy to help guide their growth
- The original managers no longer had the capacity to manage the whole operation and so they needed to bring more people into the organisation
- Along with growing the number of people, they needed to build key capabilities, such as People & Culture and project management
- They needed to ensure they had good systems and processes in place to support the growth
Craigmore had initially been working with a Big 4 consultancy to develop a Craigmore-wide strategy. This was successfully completed in 2011 and integrated Craigmore’s sustainability goals.
Mark then faced the challenge on how to implement the strategy in an empowered culture. Traditional methods of managing multi-layer objectives and targets would typically be executed through a centralised Project Management Office, potentially disempowering the businesses.
Mark was introduced to Doug Maarschalk from AGLX at the right time and admits that if he’d not met Doug and his colleague Steve McCrone, Craigmore would have probably just tried to “muddle through” on their own.
What Did You Do with AGLX?
ALGX and Craigmore took a phased approach to execute strategy and embed learning into the organisation as the ‘way we do things here’.
Phase 1 – Direction Setting
- An initial workshop was held with the Craigmore Senior Leadership Team (SLT) which helped the team clarify the organisation-wide objectives and key results (OKRs)
Phase 2 – Support for the SLT in Activation
- The strategy session was followed up by two sessions which supported the SLT to successfully activate and deliver the strategy
- This included capability building in the ‘experimentation for exploration’ approach and to support distributing decision-making, as well as building on their effectiveness as a team
Phase 3 – Quarterly Strategy Check-Ins
- AGLX worked with Craigmore to provide ongoing support to embed the new approach. They worked together to manage the strategic direction and tempo of activity through the OKR process.
- This was not a traditional strategic review of progress against strategy; nor was it a wholesale change of tack. Instead these sessions enabled the SLT to confidently review their OKRs against new information and changes that had occurred in the previous quarter and to adapt and iterate accordingly.
To help bring the plan and activation to life for the team, AGLX provided Craigmore with a one page visual representation of the strategy.
“…this has been useful for quickly communicating the key pillars of our strategy and the actions we have to take,” says Mark
“and is a lot easier for farmers to digest than a written document. We had more feedback on the visual strategy than on the rest of the document”
AGLX also provided a “Playbook” for Craigmore. This is their own handbook which keeps the strategy alive and embeds the new way of working.
What Have Been the Outcomes of the Engagement?
Mark describes AGLX’s flexible, adaptive execution model as being their “secret sauce” and of “great value” to Craigmore.
Many traditional consulting companies have a fixed and often bureaucratic approach;
“The AGLX approach offers more adaptive thinking compared with the traditional approach, which tends to try to solve all the problems up front and provide the whole solution, rather than adapting as the environment changes,” he says
“We found AGLX very results-oriented. They were there to help us on our journey and had a nimble approach to ensure what they delivered suited us as the client.”
Mark valued AGLX being genuinely interested in Craigmore’s long-term success. They offered different ways of helping Craigmore get the right outcomes and ensured that the team really integrated learning in different ways.
Craigmore are now using the new approach to implement their strategy themselves. The principle has never been to create dependence on AGLX, but to allow Craigmore the freedom to embed this approach into how they always work.
*Mark Edghill has now moved on from Craigmore
Does this sound interesting?
If you would like to talk with us about how we can help your organisation build capability for an adaptive and experiment-orientated approach, then get in touch. We love working with leaders who are looking to challenge the status quo and realise fresh thinking is needed.