strategy

We Plan Better Together

December 23, 2015

If I had a nickel for every time people groaned when I used the words “Strategic Planning” with company leaders, I would be a rich man. To begin with, I want to separate the word “Strategy” from the word “Planning”. Strategy was defined well by Roger Martin in his article “The big lie of Strategic Planning” that appeared in the Harvard Business review earlier in 2014. He says: “Good Strategy makes leaders uncomfortable and apprehensive because it is about strategic decision making where they are placing bets and making hard choices. The objective of strategy is not to eliminate risk but to increase the odds of success. Planning, on the other hand, is also necessary, and requires hours of careful research to identify which initiatives are affordable with our existing resources. It involves cost control and maximization of investment as well as development of core competencies and strategic capabilities.” We will focus on planning in this post, and tackle strategy […]

We’re Better Together with Big Data

We’re Better Together with Big Data

December 11, 2015

How they do that, you may ask. Now when I get on Facebook, I have ads from my favorite sporting goods store talking about promotions or sales going on. All of us know that databases are here to say, and they have become very smart about who we are and what we might buy, how we might vote, when our birthday is, and much more. Welcome to the world of “Big Data”. At its core, it involves a lot of information about people and things, and mathematical equations that can make all kinds of correlations, predictions, and observations about buying patterns. The unique thing about using data for patterns is not the practice itself. The new thing is the ability for software, sensors, and data to see things no person would see at all, with more data than any single group of people could possibly digest. It has been one of the advantages of big companies, but is finally becoming […]

We Solve Problems Better Together

We Solve Problems Better Together

December 4, 2015

I brought up the subject “we solve problems better together” with a few Vice Presidents and other members of various executive teams, and it felt like a rocket shot out the roof. It clearly was a very important topic to these very successful group of business leaders. They had lived both sides of this issue a few times. One member spoke of how the CEO and other top leaders had a great track record of including feedback and engagement of the others in the company for many years, and this was part of what helped make this organization successful. Then, about a year ago, the CEO decided to install a new software program that worked in other parallel companies, without any input from the organization – a departure from usual protocol. You can guess what happened next. Although there was training of people on this new software, nobody knew why this product was chosen, and the vendor of this software […]

Innovation: it’s better when it’s done together

November 20, 2015

Every month that we are preparing for blog posts and podcasts, Justin and I meet with a group of executives and leaders who are currently in organizations of various sizes. We bring a topic to the table, and open up a discussion about whatever we are working on that month. This month we brought up the topic of “we are better when we innovate together”. One of the members of our group immediately chimed in: “You seem to have the uncanny ability of bringing up whatever our company is working on right now.” Another female executive agreed, and they began to talk about how their companies each have different innovation systems to bring new products and services online, and she, too, spent many hours virtually and face to face working with cross-functional teams innovating together through various phases of the process. These two women are representative of the pressure on companies in the “innovate or be disrupted” environment. It reminds […]

Why are they not buying our stuff anymore?

Why are they not buying our stuff anymore?

August 15, 2014

A client I knew well began to see a pattern in sales that she had never seen before. Her brand was one of the top winners in her field because of the superior performance of her products over the competition for several years. Her sales team would use this advantage when approaching retail outlets about stocking their superior product lines. Then something began to fundamentally change, as her sales numbers went through a steep drop in orders coming from retail outlets. As she probed deeper with her sales force, a new insight became obvious. Although her brand still had superior performance in her field, other brands began to differentiate themselves by their image of being socially responsive in the market place. They had started using non-toxic substances in their products, and their commitment to reducing their footprint by recycling used product in productive ways had increased dramatically their market share. This is becoming a more familiar story in many circles […]

They’re not stocking cheese any more!

They’re not stocking cheese any more!

February 12, 2014

In Ken Favro’s December’s strategy and business post, he pointed to the rapid expansion of the word’s “business strategy” since 1980 on Google’s analysis of word usage – it has increased 900%! Business leaders are experiencing ever more rapid change in their particular area, and realize that strategic thinking is no longer captured in 5 year projections, or depending on competitive advantage lasting even a full business cycle. A few stories from the field will help. I was working with a person who recently was hired as CEO of a successful software firm. They had a big success in one area of software, and had invested 12 million in creating a parallel product, which they have asked this new leader to ramp out. The problem he wanted me to address was the reality that he could find no opening set of buyers who wanted to buy the solution they had created. Talking with potential customers revealed that they didn’t want […]

100 years ago Today!

January 5, 2014

A century ago today, a businessman made a series of business decisions that were instrumental in launching the middle class in America. His name was Henry Ford, and together with his Treasurer James Couzens, they chose to double the income of the workers in their factories to 5 dollars a day (if they also complied to a code of conduct), limit the work week to 5 – eight hour days, and follow up with a lot of other positive changes for the average worker at their plants. The results were almost immediate, doubling their annual revenue in 3 years, eliminating the terrible turnover within the plants, catalyzing interest in top candidates wanting to work for Ford and eventually making a car and that was affordable for the average American, helping to set up the building of the middle class in America. That famous story demonstrates the power that business people can have by making choices that benefit all parts of […]