Vantage Blog

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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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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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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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