Vantage Blog

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15
Apr
2016

How to anticipate problems and failure...carry out a Premortem

Welcome Andrew Cooke as our guest blogger from Blue Sky GPS (Growth & Profit Solutions) 


We are all familiar with post-mortems and forensic examinations from all the TV crime series. 


Post-mortems are good for telling you what went wrong, why it went wrong, and the consequences of things going wrong (death in this instance) – but it doesn’t change the fact that the individual is still dead. It is case of being wise after the event, but being wise after the event doesn’t stop or prevent things happening. 


Pre-mortems are different. Pre-mortems are a great way to assess and think through a potential strategy or a negotiation. It is about being wise before the event. 


Gather your team together and take them through the following exercise:

Andrew’s Five Steps in Carrying Out a Premortem

 Step 1: Select a prospective strategy. Make sure you have a clear description of the
strategic initiative. 
 Step 2: Set the scene. You are a year in the future after you have implemented the
strategy. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. To call it an
unmitigated disaster would be kind. It is a total catastrophe and it has very
serious consequences on the organization. People are not talking to each
other. It has gone beyond being embarrassing. You know what has happened,
but not why.
 Step 3: Generate reasons for failure. Give everybody in the room three minutes to
write down on post-it notes all the reasons why they think this strategic
initiative failed. Do this without talking or discussing, this allows each
individual to contribute their ideas and intuition. This allows you to capture
and utilize the unique blend of experiences, mental models and insights that
each person has
 Step 4: Share the reasons. Go round the group and get everybody, in turn, to share
and explain one reason at a time. Stick all the notes on the wall or
whiteboard. As a group get them to group any common or shared reasons.
This helps you to identify the key reasons why the strategic initiative might
fail.
 Step 5: Reassess the strategic initiative. In the light of what has been uncovered,
identify what will need to be changed about the strategy to improve it How
will this impact other strategic initiatives, and what are the consequences?
Remember, good strategy consists of strategic initiatives that interlink and
leverage each other, they do not stand alone.


Benefits of using pre-mortems include:
  • Stopping people and teams from becoming over-confident, encouraging a more realistic assessment of risk
  • Allowing people to voice their concerns and to share insights and experiences.
  • Helping teams to worry about the right things.
  • Allows you to regularly visit you strategy and anticipate problems.
  • Helps you to prepare backup plans and exit strategies.

It allows you to highlight factors that will influence success or failure, which may
increase your ability to control the results.

So look at one of your strategies and carry out a premortem – what will you find?

Andrew Cooke



Welcome Andrew Cooke as our guest blogger from Blue Sky GPS (Growth & Profit Solutions)  ..

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11
Feb
2016

Discover 10 key insights to help your business grow in 2016

The recently released Mindshop research of business leaders reveals what fellow leaders from the US, Australia and the UK think are the key challenges and opportunities in their industries for 2016. 


The Business Leader Insight Study reveals 10 key areas business leaders believe they need to focus on. Of these insights which are the 3 key areas of focus for your business in 2016?


Click here to read the full report findings. Click here to listen to James Mason explain the Top 10 insights.

Please feel free to contact us at Vantage to discuss the key areas of focus for you.

The recently released Mindshop research of business leaders reveals what fellow leaders from the US, Australia and the UK think are the key challenges and opportunities in their industries for 2016.  ..

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27
May
2015

Vantage May 2015 Newsletter Out Now

A new model for determining the probability of change success in a business was released recently. The model was developed based on extensive research and identifies ten factors, grouped into 3 major categories, that drive successful change in businesses - Change Readiness, Capability and Beliefs.


This is a breakthrough model in helping organisations boost their probability of change success from a default 30% to a much higher rate. This obviously will then flow through to savings in cost, time, people and lost opportunities.

To view the model and watch a short video click here.

Also in this edition:

We hope you find something of interest. Please feel free to contact us to discuss how any of these issues may impact your business.

A new model for determining the probability of change success in a business was released recently. The model was developed based on extensive research and identifies ten factors, grouped into 3 major categories, that drive successful change in businesses - Change Readiness, Capability and Beliefs. ..

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12
Mar
2015

Vantage March 2015 Newsletter Out Now

Growth is once again the key theme for most businesses in 2015.

However survey results show that many businesses lack the change readiness, skills and strategy implementation ability to achieve them.

How will you adapt in 2015? What are the top trends and strategies you need to implement for success?

To receive a complimentary copy of the 2015 Business Leaders Insights and Trends report click here.

Also in this edition:
We hope you find something of interest. Please feel free to contact us to discuss how any of these issues may impact your business.

Growth is once again the key theme for most businesses in 2015.

However survey results show that many businesses lack the change readiness, skills and strategy implementation ability to achieve them.

How will you adapt in 2015? What are the top trends and strategies you need to implement for success?  ..

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03
Apr
2014

Are you 'Malcolm in the Middle'?

I recently was a guest of the retail specialist Greater Group at a breakfast where Peter Birtles from the Super Retail Group spoke (Super Cheap Auto and Rebel Sport are two of their brands). Peter is clearly a very focused retailer with an impressive track record of significant growth.


He highlighted what is increasingly seen as a large challenge for most businesses – what he described as being ‘stuck in the middle ground’.  He sees a real polarisation of the market with scale on one hand and niche at the other. Increasingly these opposite ends of the spectrum are where the profit pools of the future will lie (if not already for many).

Being 'Malcolm in the Middle' with no clear distinctive position or strength will see you squeezed. Many retailers have learnt this the hard way. Think Fletcher Jones and department stores. But it's not just in retail - professional services, finance, manufacturing; they all have their own version of this scale vs. niche dichotomy.

He covered a wide range of topics about what drove their business, and where he believes they have been successful. How they frame the choices they make, provide focus to what they do and how they do it was particularly insightful.

Their purpose is built around enhancing their customers’ leisure time across three key categories - outdoor, sport and auto accessories. This acts as a clear view on where they focus - helping them decided what categories they compete in, and the capabilities and assets they need. Despite many unsolicited offers to buy new retail businesses they have used this as a filter and invariably rejected new customer segments, as well as new categories, that don't fit their purpose, and I imagine their core capabilities.

Effective strategy is as much about what you will do as it is about being clear on where you will not play. Super Retail Group’s approach fits well with the 5 Questions model that you can use to challenge and refine your strategic choices. Read more here.

Differentiation for their business, interestingly, is not just based on what they sell. In Peter's view what is critical is building an emotional connection beyond product and price. Yes Peter, an accountant by trade, realises the importance of holistically building brands!

My final take away was how the Super Retail Group view people as the foundation of their businesses and not just a cost to be minimised. For them their staff need to buy into the vision and direction of the brands if they are going to make headway. The link between people and performance was made really obvious with their purchase of Rebel Sport. Purchased from private equity, where staff engagement was critically low (and not seen as an important driver of performance amazingly), they materially lifted staff engagement and improved sales followed in pretty short order.

Peter believes that brand and culture are the only sustainable competitive advantages for their businesses.

A great case study in how focusing on a clear market position, a differentiated customer offer and real staff engagement can sustainably build and grow a business.

17 June Update:  Super Retail Group have issued a trading update where they indicate sales are softer due to consumer confidence.  Interestingly they still expect net profit after tax to be up 5% on last year (which was 23% up on previous year) so some resilience showing in difficult market conditions.

by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing

This article is linked to James' Google+ profile

I recently was a guest of the retail specialist Greater Group at a breakfast where Peter Birtles from the Super Retail Group spoke (Super Cheap Auto and Rebel Sport are two of their brands). Peter is clearly a very focused retailer with an impressive track record of significant growth. ..


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