Vantage Blog

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15
Oct
2016

Can it fit on one page?

It seems to me that many business consultants and so called strategy experts try to make things complex. This really comes to the fore when the challenge of planning is on the agenda.

SWOT, PESTLE, 5 Forces, etc. Lots of acronyms, not much clarity.

Don’t get me wrong these are all good tools that can be used to uncover insights and develop strategy. However without a clear framework they can end up making things more complex – lots of data not much information.

I have found the most sensible approach is the idea around one page planning. Yes one page.


The one page planning approach is based on the tried and true Now-Where-How framework.

Being clear on where you are NOW as a business (across all the key factors that drive value). Determining WHERE you want to be and then finally starting to develop strategies on HOW you are going to get there.

The beauty is that using this simple framework and then consolidating onto one page can be provide real focus.

But more importantly it enables you to cascade your plans throughout the organisation as per below. 


One of the biggest failures in strategic planning is not the qualities of the strategies developed but the lack of effective implementation.

One page planning enables a line of sight to be developed from the overall business strategic plan though to teams, projects and individuals. All aligned and easily verified that you are on track.

Add to this regular reviews and updates on progress and you have a simple process that can engage your teams and be easily monitored.

And the gold – you can run this internally without the need for expensive annual strategic offsites – yes it becomes part of how you do business!

And what if it’s more than one page? It’s a concept not a rule. Though focusing on a smaller number of strategies will mean increased likelihood of successful implementation – both organisationally and individually.


by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing


This article is linked to James' Google+ profile

It seems to me that many business consultants and so called strategy experts try to make things complex. This really comes to the fore when the challenge of planning is on the agenda.

SWOT, PESTLE, 5 Forces, etc. Lots of acronyms, not much clarity.

Don’t get me wrong these are all good tools that can be used to uncover insights and develop strategy. However without a clear framework they can end up making things more complex – lots of data not much information.

I have found the most sensible approach is the idea around one page planning. Yes one page. ..

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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. ..

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08
Jul
2016

6 Principles of Persuasion - how you can influence people to buy!

I recently reacquainted myself with the work of Robert Cialdini, Professor of Psychology and Marketing, Arizona State University. He has spent 30 years studying the ways people are influenced and has identified six key principles of persuasion.


Cialdini believes that most people can’t explain why they made a particular decision. But once you can understand the underlying factors your ability to influence decisions and get more positive responses can really have a large impact on the effectiveness of your sales and marketing activities. It also can have real value when coaching others.

The six principles are:

  1. Reciprocation: At a basic level when you do something for someone else they will feel indebted. For marketers, Cialdini says: “The implication is you have to go first. Give something...". There's a logic behind when in a restaurant you often will be given a chocolate or biscuit when presented with the bill - they are effectively prompting reciprocation at the point of the meal where tipping is encouraged!

  2. Social Proof: “Laugh tracks on comedy shows exist for this very reason,” Cialdini says. Whilst often annoying (especially if patently not funny!) they do impact viewers impression of what they are watching. A number of studies have shown this factor in play in social media. Sharing and liking products and services has a significant impact on purchase intention for both the 'liker' and their followers.

  3. Commitment & Consistency: People generally like to stay true to their word, or their actions. If we agree to a course of action or proposition - either in action or words - we're likely to follow through. For sales people getting potential customers to make a series of small "yeses" as part of the sales process leverages this principle so as to get the desired end outcome.

  4. Likability: There is no doubt that we prefer working with people we like and this can play a valuable role in a sales and marketing context. Cialdini's research indicates that in fact being physically attractive, or similar in some way to the person selling to you, impacts our decision process. The challenge for marketers is to how best to position and market products so they connect with their target audience's values and preferences - making what they sell attractive and connected is key.

  5. Authority. We all remember the ads with the faux laboratory. White coats on every actor! What the marketer is trying to do is ascribe some authority on their product. It may work (for some) but I think the authority needs to be genuine. The question is how best to utilise authority and legitimacy in the context of the product, and the proof points customers need to help them buy. In many markets generating real reviews and testimonials from legitimate, recognised authorities can help persuade prospects to respond or make purchases.

  6. Scarcity sells: "Only 10 left", " Offer end June 30". FOMO i.e. fear of missing out, has become even more prevalent since Cialdini undertook his seminal research. We appear to be wired to being more concerned about losing something (we didn't have) than gaining it. One way to create scarcity is to be genuinely unique - to have a point of difference. Click here to read more about the one question you need to be able to answer.
So when next crafting a marketing campaign or sales strategy think about how you can best apply some of Cialdini's principles to impact persuasion.

by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing

This article is linked to James' Google+ profile







I recently reacquainted myself with the work of Robert Cialdini, Professor of Psychology and Marketing, Arizona State University. He has spent 30 years studying the ways people are influenced and has identified six key principles of persuasion. ..

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10
Jun
2016

STRATEGY IS ALL ABOUT CHOICE – 5 QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU MAKE THOSE CHOICES

Strategy is the most overused word in business. It is often applied in describing tactics, less so in making clear how a business intends to grow in its market.


I recently re-read “Playing to Win – how strategy really works” by A.G. Lafley (ex CEO of Proctor & Gamble) and Roger L. Martin (Academic and Strategy Consultant). Lafley and Martin have a long standing relationship working on strategy at P&G. Built off the strategic thinking of Michael Porter they paint a compelling picture of how they made strategy come alive and deliver real growth for P&G.

At a high level they describe strategy as the need to win; and to win you need to make clear choices across five key areas – a strategic choice cascade:

  1. What is our winning aspiration?
  2. Where will we play?
  3. How will we win?
  4. What capabilities must be in place?
  5. What management systems are required?

In their framework, your strategy is the choices you make across these five questions; and the core is in the answers to question 2 and 3 – the where and the how. It is also a highly iterative process with continual loop back and refinement.





 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The book almost solely uses their experience at P&G which, on the face of it, has been very successful in driving profit and growth well above market over the first decade of this century. The hard metrics outlined in the appendix certainly back this up. 

I wondered though how it would apply outside of P&G. Over the last six months we have used these ‘strategy choice’ questions with several clients – both in the development of strategy, but also as a challenge to their current strategic thinking. It has worked well wherever I have applied it (B2B, services and retail markets for instance) because it has forced people to decide what they do and, importantly, what they don’t do. 

In addition to the choices framework, the authors outline a number of valuable approaches in thinking about the where and how options – because there is obviously more than one set of strategic choices that can win. They have what they call a strategy logic flow. This flow enables you to understand across four dimensions (industry, customers, relative position and competition) the context, challenges and opportunities to help you develop strategic options to debate and analyse.

In analysing different strategic “where to play” and “how to win” options they take a reverse engineering approach. Rather than setting up participants to advocate from their point of view they pose a question against each scenario: what would have to be true across each of the strategy logic flow elements for us to pursue this possibility? This enables even the most ardent sceptic to engage and sets the bar as to what is critical for success. From that point, you can decide the most important factors and start to undertake a deeper analysis of those aspects that will determine what is truly worth pursuing. This reverse engineering approach not only does away a with a lot of the angst in what I would call strategic advocacy by individuals, it also enables you to not spend wasted time up front overanalyzing; you only focus on those aspects you really need to know to make strategic choices.

So despite its P&G focus there are a number of elements in Martin and Lafley’s approach that can be of real value in developing strategy. It forces you to focus on making the critical choices to define “winning” for your business. Well worth a read but also as a framework or challenge to your next strategic planning session. 

if you would like to discuss how you could use this in your business please contact me by clicking here.

by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing


This article is linked to James' Google+ profile 






Strategy is the most overused word in business. It is often applied in describing tactics, less so in making clear how a business intends to grow in its market. ..

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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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