Navigating Strategic Complexities & Driving Commitment

Ultra logo
Founded in 1920 as a small electronics factory in West London, United Kingdom, over the course of a century, Ultra Electronics grew into a defense and security group with a global footprint. The company was listed on the London Stock Exchange and was a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index until 2022, when it was acquired for £2.6 billion by the global technology and services company Cobham, itself owned by the private equity firm Advent International. With a workforce of 4,500 employees across the globe, Ultra’s innovative, application-engineered solutions now span numerous domains, including maritime defense, intelligence and communications, precision control systems, energy, as well as support functions, such as proactive and intelligence-driven managed cyber security services.
Navigating Organizational Transformation

Ultra at a Juncture

Innovation laid at the heart of Ultra’s value proposition, enabling the company to solve the complex problems its customers faced and deliver the technologies that helped create a safer tomorrow. In its century-long history of expertise, however, the moment had arrived to explore opportunities for innovation within the organization in order to propel Ultra into a new era of cutting-edge solutions and advancements. In particular, certain questions required close scrutiny:

  • How can Ultra identify opportunities for growth beyond “known markets” by leveraging its core competences and assets?
  • How can Ultra strategically approach and deepen its understanding of the existing business model, identifying areas for enhancement and innovation?
  • Considering the imminent CEO succession, how can Ultra’s leadership team and key executives be engaged in the development of the company’s strategic plan?
  • How can Ultra effectively develop a 10-year strategic plan, ensuring it is well-presented and unanimously agreed upon by the group?

Realizing how powerful the Strategy in Action programme could be, Ultra decided to enroll in the programme several of its portfolio businesses.

Strategy in Action

Charting Ultra’s Path Ahead

The upper echelon of leadership at Ultra, including top-level executives and those at the next tier, embarked on the SiA strategic transformation journey, actively engaging with the three components of the programme: the SiA Platform, specialized workshops, and on-demand support and consulting, both online and in-person.

The power of Strategy in Action is that it starts with the premise that you teach your own management team how to do strategy, which is very different from some of the leading management consultancies who tend to do a lot of work and define a strategy for you.

Jos Sclater
Jos Sclater
Chief Executive Officer at Ultra

The SiA Platform was configured to enable all participants to seamlessly navigate the entire strategy formulation process and generate comprehensive financial projections. This tailored configuration facilitated a cohesive experience, ensuring that each participant could actively contribute to Ultra’s strategic planning journey.

In the immersive SiA workshops and coaching sessions, actionable strategic frameworks were not only presented but also promptly applied to Ultra’s unique case. Comprehensive data was meticulously gathered and analyzed, yielding valuable insights that allowed the identification of potential opportunities and threats. This analytical process also provided a nuanced understanding of the company’s key strengths and weaknesses, contributing to a more informed and strategic decision-making process.

People like being taught new things but if you don’t put them into action very quickly, they’ll forget them, and it can be a bit of a wasted effort. Strategy in Action is a refinement of lots and lots of interesting strategic inputs, so that it takes them and puts them into a process that’s very understandable for anybody, it teaches your people how to think strategically and then they immediately apply that by doing the strategy for their own business.

Jos Sclater
Jos Sclater
Chief Executive Officer at Ultra
Cascading Ultra’s Strategy

The Power of Alignment

The SiA programme empowered Ultra to attain several key results, including:

  • Gained a deep understanding of the complexity and dynamics of external market forces and their long-term impact.
  • Developed a multi-year strategic and investment plan.
  • Aligned the strategy with current operational processes.
  • Formulated an action plan consisting of continuous improvements and strategic initiatives.
  • Secured a clear commitment to the action plan from the extended leadership team.
  • Developed a “replicable” strategic decision-making process and strategy execution capabilities.

Getting everybody in the organization aligned and moving in the same direction was the most important achievement gained thanks to the SiA programme. The actions stemming from the strategy permeated through the executive team, extended across functional teams, and reached down to the plants, factories, and all the meeting rooms. In this way, everyone could understand how their individual objectives connected to their team’s goals and how these, in turn, aligned with the layers above, ultimately supporting the overarching business strategy.

It’s that alignment top to bottom of the organization that makes Strategy in Action powerful. In fact, one of my proudest moments is when I visited one of our software businesses and I saw that every scrum room had their strategic actions on the wall and how they map to that business’s strategy and how that business’s strategy mapped to the Ultra strategy.

Jos Sclater
Jos Sclater
Chief Executive Officer at Ultra

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