Vantage Blog

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27
Feb
2018

Mind the Performance Gap

Continuous improvement is critical when it comes to building business and leadership capability.

However investing time building capabilities alone is not enough. What are the high performance habits that successful leaders display over and above capability? How do they connect the two - capabilities and habits - to plug the performance gap and each success?

The recent Mindshop survey of global business leaders explored this very issue. The survey revealed the ‘must have’ capabilities and habits business leaders will need to succeed in 2018. Click here to access a copy of the report.

The report includes a diagnostic for you to rate yourself on the top 10 capabilities and habits. Which three should be your key areas of focus in 2018?

I welcome the opportunity to discuss strategies and learning options with you. Please feel free to contact me to organise a 20 minute discussion about your top 3 priorities.

James Atkins powered by Mindshop

Continuous improvement is critical when it comes to building business and leadership capability.

However investing time building capabilities alone is not enough. What are the high performance habits that successful leaders display over and above capability? How do they connect the two - capabilities and habits - to plug the performance gap and each success?
 ..

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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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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. ..

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03
Oct
2014

A New Approach To Developing Strategy...And Your Team

The 2014 business leaders’ survey identified a number of trends and challenges which highlight the need for a different approach to strategy development and organisational learning. 


The top three organisational training needs from the survey were:

  1. Strategic development ability
  2. Implementation of those strategic skills, and
  3. Coaching and developing people

This points to the opportunity for a blending of learning with real time strategic planning and implementation - thus enabling organisations to achieve their strategic objectives whilst providing a platform for learning of individuals and teams.

It is not surprising in our fast paced, constantly changing environment that the number 1 training need was identified as strategy development. How capable really are your staff at anticipating and responding to changes in their environment, and developing more than one possible response? 
 
It is one thing to develop strategy, it is quite another to implement it effectively. This was the second key training need identified – implementation of strategic skills. Many organizations struggle with the successful implementation of their strategy. This can manifest itself in a number of ways. Too slow to implement; not sure it was the right strategy in the first place; resistance from people within the organisation and a strategy that fails to deliver the expected benefits.

The third top training need identified was coaching and developing people. How do you provide staff with an appropriate level of professional development whilst at the same time managing costs and keeping a focus on your current direction and business challenges? How do we ensure that this learning truly makes your staff more effective at what they need to do and does not become one of those activities that offers little benefit and is often seen as a waste of time? 
 
The 70/20/10 model for learning and development (Developed by the Centre for Creative Leadership) is an effective way to think about these challenges.  
 















It indicates that a new approach is needed – one that blends learning with real time strategy development, implementation and problem solving.

A blended learning approach takes into account fundamental adult learning principles incorporating the need for adults to be self directed and the need to bring life experience to the learning experience. Much of what we learn we do on the job (in fact 70%). We also learn from other people when they provide feedback on the work we are involved in and coach us to improve our skills. There is still a place for formal training as such but this does not have to be all face-to-face. Formal training can be most effective when it incorporates a mixture of workshops and on line learning, as well as courses and reading.

This new approach of blended learning recognizes that your staff need may need a flexible program tailored to their needs and your organisation’s needs. It can be made up of a mix of such elements as:

  
 










We recently worked with Compost Victoria and Sustainability Victoria to develop a five-year market development strategy. Their objective was not to have us write the plan but for their members (all competitors) to develop the market development plan collaboratively whilst up skilling their own strategic development capability. 
 
We adopted a blended model delivering six workshops augmented with one on one coaching sessions for members. A range of easy to use on line resources, from Mindshop Online, were also available so that staff could access tools when it suited and, as needed.

The outcome was a strategy that the members owned and are focussed on implementing. They are now also better placed to further refine the strategy and to respond more effectively to changes in their environment.

View this short video to learn more and hear what the participants thought of the program: 
  


by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing. 

This article is linked to James' Google+ profile

The 2014 business leaders’ survey identified a number of trends and challenges which highlight the need for a different approach to strategy development and organisational learning.   ..


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