Greenfields Research

Blog Header Image

How good is your strategy? Here’s a marking guide

- By: John P Sykes
Posted in: Blog, Future, Management, Media, Mining, Publications, Strategy


Myself and Allan Trench think a lot about assessing the quality of strategies in the mineral sector. In part, this is because it is comensurate with our role as lecturers on the MBA course at UWA, where we teach strategy courses for general business and specifically for the resources sector. However, MBAs are not an ‘academic’ qualification and as such, the aim for students is not to go on to become a business professor, but to apply their knowledge in the ‘real’ business world. Therefore we like to think our teachings and assessments are useful in industry too. For example, we think the marking scheme for the exams on business strategy, could be equally useful in assessing actual business strategies, or lack thereof, as is often the case in the minerals sector.

The ‘marking scheme’ is summarised below, with four key aspects to the strategy assessed at each level: 1) an understanding of the strategic context; 2) an ability to generate foresight; 3) the ability to learn from experience; and 4) the development of distinctive capabilities. The marking scheme is summarised below:

Pass or Credit: Displays clear understanding of the industry value-drivers. Addresses the future in the context of a clear, well-known, strategy framework and/or business concept. Customisation of strategic direction is made to account for the company’s capabilities, inclusive of lessons learned from past strategic successes and failures.

Distinction: Displays clear understanding of the industry value-drivers with a demonstrable focus on one or more (but not all). Addresses the future using innovative approaches to strategy – including consideration of new business concepts and models ‘at the edge’ of traditional industry practice. Company capabilities are gaining industry-reputation, yet are difficult to imitate.

High Distinction: Sets a benchmark across the industry for value-creation on one or more key dimensions – including extracting value that other companies could not ‘see’. Addresses the future using industry-leading innovative approaches to strategy – including enactment of new business concepts and models beyond modern industry practices. Company capabilities yield value that is industry-renowned despite attempts by others to copy them.

We think this sets quite a high bar for companies (and the MBA students). We feel most companies in the mineral sector will struggle to make the ‘Pass’ grade. Gratifyingly the MBA students (many of whicfh are from the resources sector) generally fair better, so maybe there’s hope for the future.

The full article is available to subscribers on, or contact me. It is entitled: “How good is your strategy? Here’s a marking guide“.

Finally, we’d like to acknowledge Geoff Batt (Lucid Science) for giving us the inspiration to write this article.

For keen followers of the Strictly Boardroom column, our book “Strictly (Mining) Boardroom Volume II: A Practitioners Guide for Next Generation Directors” was published last year and is available as a paperback or e-book from Major Street Publishing or Amazon. We’re pleased to say that the book received a very positive review in the AusIMM Bulletin and in Geoscientist magazine – the member’s publication of the Geological Society of London.