Vantage Blog

blog date arrow
23
Aug
2018

Connecting the Dots…making sense of disruption

Agility is without doubt the management buzz word of the moment. Great Leaders are agile; organisations must reorganise to be agile; your products and services, and how you go to market, must have agility at its core…or so we are all told.



But why?

It is increasingly clear to me that the pace of change, and in particular the impact of digital technology on competition and our organisations, is the reason.

The accelerators of change including artificial intelligence, robotics, cloud computing, big data, augmented and virtual reality, and even Blockchain (ignoring the smoke and mirrors of Bitcoin!) will, I believe, enable new products, services and business formats to develop and scale at a pace currently only just starting to be seen.

However, there is too much emphasis on the specifics of the individual technologies themselves, and not enough on how these technologies can be used together and applied to real customer problems. The ability to remove customer friction by the smart application of technology is a clear differentiator for many already. Think Uber, contactless cards, Netflix to name a few. This will be what differentiates winners in the future.

It is the role of business leaders to figure out how to ‘connect the dots’ – the nexus of technologies, models, concepts and ideas.

We are moving from a relatively linear trajectory to one of exponential change. Some sectors and industries will move faster than others, so the need to respond will be different. The opportunity, though, is available to all.

And it’s not just about start-ups – though their adoption and application of new ways of working and digital technologies are a sign of things to come and should act as a cue and/or wake up call.

Agile organisations that are able to transform their culture and think about how they can partner and work in alternative ways will be the success stories of the future. Impenetrable moats around our businesses are no longer assured.

The unbundling and re-bundling of integrated value propositions – just look at what has already happened in financial services – enables new customer offers to be designed and delivered for customers in different and exciting ways. As a result, we are already seeing industry definitions change, with some sectors effectively disappearing.

A key consideration is a shift in many companies from offering products to overseeing, participating in or facilitating ecosystems. Nespresso was an early example where the offering was a combination of components that only worked together - an espresso machine, pods, milk frother and the physical coffee making experience - in a closed fully controlled (via patents) loop.

Apple is another early ecosystem participant. They effectively embedded their ‘hardware’ (iPhone, iPad, Mac etc.), all operating of a single platform, as the core with complementary products and services creating value for customers – the sum being greater than the parts. Not ‘closed’, like Nespresso, but orchestrated or controlled by Apple with app developers, musicians etc embedding their offer in the wider ecosystem.

Newer ones worth having a look, at that are leveraging new digital technologies, include Babylon and Nest.

Ecosystems are modular (re-bundling), and rely on mutual interdependencies, two-way value flow and shared data, held together with a variable level of hierarchical control specific to each one. As a result, the various players in these ecosystems are able to embed their offers in a broader set of customer needs.

This can be challenging. It requires business leaders to think beyond a traditional ‘value chain’ that their business model has been built on. We need to consider what could be the core of an ecosystem and its (typically) digital platform – the one or two features that drive customer take up and use. What can complement that core and ensures a broader set of needs are met – not just for customers but business partners and suppliers?

Will ecosystems be the business model of the future? Will thinking about how you could embed your product or service into a broader set of needs be a key strategic question to consider? Building, catalysing or joining an ecosystem (or ecosystems) could well become a core strategy for future growth. The legacy of an organisations cost base, structure and offering could be key barriers to overcome if you want to not just ‘connect the dots’ but work out how to win by being agile in a fast-changing world.

James Atkins
Vantage Strategy & Marketing

I recently attended the London Business School’s course on Exploiting Disruption in A Digital World where these, and many other such concepts were covered. The August Vantage Leaders Forum spent half a day exploring these issues and how they could be applied to their organisations.

If you would like to discuss running a workshop, or presenting a keynote, exploring the opportunities that these new ways of thinking open up, or how these models or technologies could be applied in your organisation, please feel free to contact me on 0419 516 655 or at jatkins@vantagemarketing.com.au

WEBINAR: To view a complimentary 45 minute webinar on Connecting the Dots click here



Agility is without doubt the management buzz word of the moment. Great Leaders are agile; organisations must reorganise to be agile; your products and services, and how you go to market, must have agility at its core…or so we are all told. ..

blog date arrow
21
Nov
2017

Winning through Resilience

There’s no doubt that to succeed in today’s challenging market requires a great deal of resilience. Personally and organisationally. Strategically and operationally. And, of course, most critically in leadership.

The Vantage Leaders Forum (a group of CEO’s, GM’s and business owners brought together by Vantage Strategy & Marketing) met again in November to explore this topic, and what it means for their teams and for themselves.

The forum kicked off with a focus on organisational orientation; in particular customer centricity. But not just in terms of the normal narrative which just about every business trots out via their values. The group instead explored the whole concept of Customer Success versus Customer Service. Is the organisation set up to engage with customers proactively or reactively? Is the focus around ensuring customers achieve real value from your product or service, or merely ensuring that they are satisfied? The concept has grown from SaaS or subscription based businesses but has a lot of resonance in how we could approach customer management.

Several of the CEO’s reflected that maybe their balance wasn’t quite right; too much time spent on servicing customers and sorting out problems, rather than ensuring that they are achieving ‘success’ in terms of the value they are extracting from the use of the business’s product or service.

We then added to this idea the concept of building emotional connection with customers, and the potential value that could deliver. The HBR article The new science of customer emotions generated a lot of discussion. Especially given the research data indicated that customers who were ‘emotionally connected’ were 52% more valuable (on average across 9 product categories) than those that were merely highly satisfied. 

This of course raised the question as to the customer data businesses are using to drive their customer engagement strategies – satisfaction research, or insights as to how to engage and connect with customers at a deeper level. Not all organisations have the capability to do the sort of in depth research espoused in the HBR article. However, determining how best to uncover the key emotional motivators, and then using those to structure your customer journey and critical touch points, is something in reach of most…and now on the action list for a few of the group. 

The second half of the forum collaborated on what was required to build a strong and tenacious team – a key requirement for organisational resilience. We brainstormed all the key attributes, and then ranked them based on impact, with our final six being…

A good discussion then ensued around where the strengths and weaknesses were for each business, and the strategies they should undertake to close key gaps. 

Additionally, we explored avoiding blind spots when developing strategy, in particular when using scenario planning. We finished the day with an exercise aimed at enabling some personal reflection on how they behave and present to others as leaders.

All up some fantastic and practical collaboration across the group saw a number of new insights and ideas for the business leaders to take away and apply in their businesses.

As one of the participants said afterwards… “today’s workshop, was engaging, insightful and provided thought provoking content as we continue on our transformational journey. The networking was also very valuable!”

The Vantage Leaders Forum will next meet in February 2018 to kick of the first of four workshops for the year. If you would like to know more please contact James Atkins via email on jatkins@vantagemarketing.com.au

James Atkins

Vantage Strategy & Marketing......Powered by Mindshop

The Vantage Leaders Forum (a group of CEO’s, GM’s and business owners brought together by Vantage Strategy & Marketing) met again in November to explore this topic, and what it means for their teams and for themselves. ..
blog date arrow
13
Apr
2017

Uncovering your Why

Simon Sinek is one of those thought leaders who has had amazing cut through in the world of business strategy, including recently in relation to millennials in the workforce (if you haven't looked at this video yet, it is worth 15 minutes of your time).


I was therefore keen to see what he had to say when he presented to a packed house at The Growth Faculty forum in Melbourne recently.


Sinek was the morning attraction and for me reinforced much of the value in his 'Start with Why' model (click here for an overview of the model). He also spent a lot of time around leadership. One quote that had real resonance related to how you build and engage your team as a leader.


We are all familiar with the concept of "getting the right people on the bus" and its various variants. He had a different spin to it. As he said, "it’s not about the right people, it’s about the right bus!". And, of course, that's the leader’s role - both in ensuring the bus is 'safe' and 'sound', but also as leader being a great driver!





















The afternoon session was presented by his colleague Peter Docker whose focus was on how do you harness the "Power of Why". That is, how do you uncover your Why? 

This is something that has not always been clear to me, and I have had varying degrees of success in working with clients on this very issue. It is, in part, an iterative process. A process that Sinek identified as being about the origin of the business and why it exists. For some companies this may or may not still be relevant. 

Docker outlined 4 steps to help with the Why discovery process; less scientific, more reductive:
  1. Identify the Human Connection. To do that ask your team to identify specific stories about the organisation when it is at its best, when it makes them feel proud. Not about $ and cents per se - but what you have given, less so received.
  2. Isolate the Contribution - in those stories what was the specific contribution the organisations made in the lives of others. Collate and cluster these stories into themes - describe them as verbs, not nouns.
  3. Find the Impact - determine what that contribution enabled others to go on to do, or to be. How were their lives different because of this contribution - however small or large it may be.
  4. You can then start to draft potential WHY statements. A simple structure for a WHY statement is: To (what your organisation does - its contribution) so that (the effect you want to have in the world - the impact)


From there you will have some clarity on your WHY. You can iterate or road test to ensure it has resonance and, of course, relevance to who you are, and what you want to be as an organisation.


During the day, I sat next to a leader from one of the big 4 banks. She told me an amazing WHY story. It related to a client who had superannuation with them and had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. The client rang the personal banker to inquire about their insurance only to find that the super account didn't include appropriate cover. Rather than leaving it at that the bank manager took it upon herself to look for so called 'lost' super with other organisations. Subsequently she identified one super account that did include insurance cover that would be of real value to her client. No direct value to the bank. Not an additional product sold. But a true human connection and contribution that would have real impact and benefit for that customer. Inspirational! 


You can see how that story would be a strong foundation around which to build the bank's WHY. A WHY in action - helping their clients have a secure, stronger financial foundation that supports them throughout their life - no matter what it throws at them. 

A day well spent - equal doses of inspiration and practical application!

by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing
This article is linked to James' Google+ profile

Simon Sinek is one of those thought leaders who has had amazing cut through in the world of business strategy, including recently in relation to millennials in the workforce (if you haven't looked at this video yet, it is worth 15 minutes of your time). ..

blog date arrow
19
Nov
2016

Vantage CEO Forum - challenging growth strategies for 2017

Last month, 25 CEO’s, GM’s and business owners met up in Melbourne for the launch of the Vantage Leaders Forum. The Forum will meet quarterly for half a day to share new ideas, learn new skills, and discuss best practice; all of which will enable leaders to apply research and concepts to their own business.


The topic was Developing and Challenging Growth Strategies for 2017. We explored some great research by Bain on the factors that drive high performance in organisations.  The study identifies six key factors – Aligned, Capable, Effective, Adaptable, Efficient and Engaged. If you want to read more on the research click here.  


In the workshop the group shared what had been effective for them in driving engagement within their own organisations with some creative ideas explored around effective and timely communication.  This included how to use enterprise social media and collaboration tools – such as Yammer and Chatter – combined with both formal and informal meetings and catch-ups. One leader utilises a 10-minute stand up session for the leadership group once a week.  I think this will be replicated by a few of the CEO’s pretty soon judging by the enthusiasm for such an informal, more spontaneous way of communicating and engaging. The group also shared how authentic leadership is key to true and lasting engagement.


The second half of the morning focused on developing strategies for the top growth priorities for each business leader heading into 2017.  Utilising the Mindshop 4 Step strategy development and problem solving approach, the group worked in pairs identifying and then developing quick win strategies.  In part these leveraged some of the learnings from the Bain high performance model, as well as each leader working together to build and challenge the other’s ideas and plans.  At the end of the session, one page plans in hand, the CEO’s had moved their growth agenda forward – a kick start for implementation in 2017.


Wrapping up the workshop, the group reflected that not only where there interesting and challenging discussions, but one of the real benefits was meeting with peers away from the business in an open, collaborative and constructive environment. 


To read what some of the attendees thought about the day click here to see their comments on LinkedIn.


The forum will next meet in February where we will again work collaboratively on key business challenges, and share ideas and insights to grow their businesses, their people and themselves. This works in well with the direct coaching also provided to each participant to drive the success of his or her business.

 

by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing

This article is linked to James' Google+ profile



About the Vantage Leaders Forum: The quarterly Vantage Leaders Forum is one aspect of how we work with our clients to achieve their individual and business goals. It supplements our core advisory and coaching work where we help develop and implement strategy, as well as problem solve around current opportunities and challenges within their businesses. Additionally they are supported through access to Mindshop Online where they have 24/7 access to a wide range of tools, online courses and resources.


To read what some of the attendees thought about the day click here to see their comments on LinkedIn.


If you are interesting in being part of this unique, invitation only group and gaining my support to drive the growth of your business (and you as a leader) please send me a brief email to arrange a 20 min call to discuss your needs further:
jatkins@vantagemarketing.com.au


Last month, 25 CEO’s, GM’s and business owners met up in Melbourne for the launch of the Vantage Leaders Forum. The Forum will meet quarterly for half a day to share new ideas, learn new skills, and discuss best practice; all of which will enable leaders to apply research and concepts to their own business. ..

blog date arrow
21
Sep
2016

Speed up the pace of implementation in your business

The pace of doing business is speeding up not slowing down. Each year the pressure grows on all areas of a business including its people, cash-flow, leadership, innovation, business models, technologies and ability to implement strategies successfully. This pressure can lead to issues arising across the business that ultimately impact its overall growth and profit potential.


Standing back from all the specific issues stemming from this 'high pace' of doing business most can quickly be related back to the in-ability to implement 'change' successfully.


So what does a business leader or owner do? What are the strategies that should be implemented to 'adjust' the business and its people to this NEW normal environment for doing business?

Here are three strategies that can assist businesses and teams cope with the high pace of doing business:

Strategy 1 - Focus on Micro tasks

Think back to the last planning session you had or project team you were involved in. What was the nature of the strategies / actions that were set? Were they quite broad or were they very specific outlining the steps that need to be taken. Too often planning sessions lead to broad statements such as: 'Do a marketing plan', 'Refine our sales process' or 'Fix that problem' but rarely outline HOW to achieve those outcomes or the micro steps / tasks required. This leads to teams either heading down the wrong paths or not starting to change at all. The simple solution when you see this occurring is to keep breaking down the broad task into micro tasks that highlight the HOW and the steps required to reach the desired outcome. Try this simple strategy in your next planning session and you instantly see the benefits.

Strategy 2 - Provide just-in-time learning

Sending teams to two day residential training sessions to learn new skills are slowly becoming a thing of the past. There is certainly still a need to hold these types of events in specific situations but 5-7 years ago every training event was a two day off-site with little accountability to the new learning acquired or how it would be implemented. The retention of new learning was thus very low and too often forgotten (until a need arose and the learning had to be acquired again!).

To obtain the skills to address specific issues in this fast paced business world you need to shift the thinking of your people to 'just-in-time' learning. This means that as a need arises to address a specific issue (such as understanding the strengths / weakness’ of your competitors as part of a marketing strategy) the focus should be on putting time in your schedule to learn that skill in 30-60 minutes via an online learning platform or quick internal training session and then applying it in the field quickly. The retained learning is much higher with this approach as there is immediate application of the learning. Best of all a solution to the issue is provided straight away to allow momentum to continue with the desired 'change' or 'new strategy'.

Strategy 3 - Capture and track your strategies / actions using innovative technologies

How often have you gone to reflect on a strategy you developed months ago and then had to spend hours searching through your emails, journals, files or go and follow-up a team member to get yourself up to speed again with the discussions that occurred and actions that were confirmed. Even if you have a good discipline of having 'One Page Plans' operating in your business (and even pasted to your office wall) it can still waste many hours in your day searching for the detailed plans you have developed or putting yourself back in the same 'head-space' you were in to reflect on the next steps you should take.

To assist this process and speed up your pace of implementation it’s critical in any modern business to be using the latest cloud technologies / applications to help you track projects and tasks. What are you currently using in your business? Nothing? There are a lot of great, cost-effective options available. The time savings and productivity gains will be felt immediately and free you up to be focusing on the growth and profit of your business.

While these three strategies are not a magic bullet they do help you adapt both yourself and your teams approach to allow you to implement change much more effectively in this fast-paced business environment.

To assist this process we provide all our clients’ access to Mindshop Online. Mindshop Online allows you to capture and track in one location all your strategies, actions and professional development that are only visible by you and your advisor. We can then provide confidential support and solutions drawn from hundreds of tools, courses and resources within Mindshop Online.

Mindshop Online is a fantastic way to help leaders speed up their pace of implementation to give them back valuable time to focus on the growth and profit of their business.

If you would like to discuss how we could assist you implement change more effectively in your business please email us to arrange a call or meeting.

by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing

Powered by Mindshop

This article is linked to James' Google+ profile




The pace of doing business is speeding up not slowing down. Each year the pressure grows on all areas of a business including its people, cash-flow, leadership, innovation, business models, technologies and ability to implement strategies successfully. This pressure can lead to issues arising across the business that ultimately impact its overall growth and profit potential. ..


Latest Blogs
 
Share This
 
Search the Blog
 
Subscribe to our Blog
 
Click here to subscribe to receive regular updates on business strategy & marketing.
OUR APPROACH
Our approach line
Vantage Strategy & Marketing helps leaders improve their business by cutting through the clutter.
We work collaboratively with our clients to develop clear strategy, achievable goals and actionable plans.