Vantage Blog

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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. ..

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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. ..
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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). ..

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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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25
Jul
2014

What Value is There in a Value Proposition?

Lots if you get it right. Unfortunately many don't! A lot of value propositions contain little of the value they aim to deliver.

Why? Because they are created from the inside out. That is they are all about what businesses think their customers want, rather than what their customers actually need. They focus on what you want to sell, rather than starting with the customers’ problems or needs that you are uniquely able to address.



So what exactly is a value proposition? It is the sum of what you deliver (the attributes of your offer), how you are perceived (your image) and the relationship you have been able to develop. It's how it all comes together in a coherent and consistent way.

Put simply, it is how you deliver value to your customers.

I use a value proposition wheel to try and tease out all the elements. Attempting to be clear on these factors goes a long way towards having a coherent and compelling value proposition.















Take Boost Juice as an example. They have a crystal clear view of their value proposition and, if you were to try and deconstruct it, it would look something like this.















The key is making it clear and concise. But also easy to understand and be applied across the organisation.

Critically, however, it needs to be grounded in your competitive advantage – what makes you different. For Boost it is around the “Boost Experience” and the essence that runs through everything they do...“Love Life”.

What does your value proposition wheel look like? Have a go at filling it in and seeing where there are gaps or inconsistencies.

In developing or refining your value proposition you need to be really clear on what problems you are solving or needs you are meeting. This is where the real value to your customers should emerge.

A simple exercise to do that is the product surround model.
















In every product or service there is a core product, the substance. As a rule of thumb the core is normally about 80% of the cost but provides only 20% of the impact.

It is the product surround, usually 20% of the cost, which contributes up to 80% of the customer impact.

A great example of a business that reinvented not only its offering, but the category, is a BRW Fast 100 winner Jetts.

















The approach they took was to think through what the customer problems and issues were with how traditional gyms provided services to the market.

Customer Problem: Jetts Offer:
“Don’t like being tied in for years” No Contracts
“Too expensive“ Weekly Fees
“Too crowded “ No Classes
“Not open when I want it” Open 24/7

So in reviewing your value proposition think about the following questions:
• Can you define what is core and what is surround for each of your current offerings?
• Can you list the key problems and needs for your target market?
• What could you build, refine or deliver better via your value proposition to solve those problems and needs?

A simple exercise that may well help you define and deliver real value in your value proposition. 

Click here to watch our free 30 minute webinar on Value Propositions.


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



Lots if you get it right. Unfortunately many don't! A lot of value propositions contain little of the value they aim to deliver.

Why? Because they are created from the inside out. That is they are all about what businesses think their customers want, rather than what their customers actually need. They focus on what you want to sell, rather than starting with the customers’ problems or needs that you are uniquely able to address. ..


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