Roy's Blog: March 2010

March 29, 2010

Do you want to be better, best or #DiFFERENT?

Look around at the competitive claims being made these days, and most of them will look something like:
- ‘We offer the best network’
- ‘Our customer service is better than our competition’
- ‘We have the best people’

These types of claims don’t cut it:
- they are aspirational statements that don’t provide any meaningful guidance to people in the organization in terms of what they should do and how they should behave to ‘live’ the strategy.

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- they don’t give customers any meaningful information that helps them understand the competitive claim. For example the largest Telecom Company in Canada claims to have the ‘best network’ among their competitors. Is this useful information to a customer? Does it explain the characteristic of their network that makes it the best?

- they are difficult if not impossible to prove particularly in terms that address customer needs. In my experience, claims of this nature attract internal organizational statistics to ‘prove’ the claim and not specific attributes that are compelling to customers. They talk to the internal audience rather than the external one.

BE DiFFERENT competitive claims, on the other hand force you to define in precise terms how you are unique among your competitors. Through the use of The ONLY Statement a detailed assessment of the competition is done and is correlated with the critical desires of the customer groups you have chosen to serve.

And, included in the analysis mix is the competencies and skills of the organization. ‘Telecom Company X has the only network that ....’ is the claim that we need to aspire to.

It informs the organization what specifically it want to do that is unique it tells the customer what specific value and benefits will be delivered to them and it provides a framework for measuring and proving the claim.

Winning is not about comparative and superlative claims in any event. They are not needed. You don’t have to be better than another company or best among your competitors to succeed and survive. You need to BE DiFFERENT.

Provide relevant, compelling and UNIQUE value to those you have chosen to serve and the spoils of the battle will flow your way.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

  • Posted 3.29.10 at 01:27 pm by Roy Osing
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March 26, 2010

Having a competitive edge is simply not good enough

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Words describe strategic intent and I have a real problem applying ‘soft’ or ‘incremental’ words to the critical business function of sustainable differentiation and survival.

Competitive edge means to me that your intent is to be slightly better than your competition.

Is that what we really intend?

I hope not! A ‘slightly better’ strategy leads to things like:
- more price promotions.
- PR campaigns based on a lofty vision.
- products that break down less frequently.
- the sporadic introduction of customer appreciation days.
- ‘smile’ training for service employees.
- technology adoption based on its availability from suppliers.
- aspirational claims in the market like ‘the best network’, or highest quality services.

The driver of a ‘slightly better’ strategy is what the competition is doing, and you spend all of your time looking to ‘one-up’ them. You are constantly in a reaction mode with no long term strategy and everything gets done incrementally. In addition, predicating your strategy on the actions of the competition to the exclusion of your customers is survival limiting at best. Your organization WILL die, the only question is when.

Lets start to use words that compel us to do something truly great for our organization; success and survival demand us to do so. Here are some words that I think provide the right BE DiFFERENT motivation to create a strategy that will assure long terms success:
- dominate the competition
- prevail over them
- cripple their efforts

A strategy with these types of words as its mentor will result in:
- a unique product that can knock down a fire in 30 seconds.
- a child’s plush toy extended to include an Internet experience.
- a woman’s wedding and graduation shoe supplier that includes dancing lessons with each purchase.
- a jeweller who loans a diamond ring to a valued and trusted customer.
- a smartpone supplier that mass-customizes applications to meet the divergent needs of its customer base.
- a marina in the San Juan Islands that creates such a consistent DiFFERENT boating experience for mariners, they keep coming back for more.

Competitve edge? NO! Dominate and Cripple will get your the strategy you need to survive in these harsh times. The road-kill of those that didn’t think this way are unfortunately too numerous to mention.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

  • Posted 3.26.10 at 12:07 pm by Roy Osing
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March 20, 2010

A, B, C’s of execution


The anchor of any execution plan is your organization’s strategy; it informs and drives every tactic and activity that people are engaged in. I see too many organizations executing a number of tactics with no strategic plan or context to give them meaning.

So, before describing what ‘good’ execution looks like, make sure you have a strategy to lean on. If not, go back to square one and create one. In addition, when creating your strategy, spend significant time on thinking through implementation. Avoid the trap of spending 80% of your time on the essence of your strategy and 20% on execution. Reverse your focus and spend 80% of your time on executional planning.

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The A, B, C’s of one-of-a-kind execution:

A. Get your strategy in focus. Your strategy needs to be specific and clear to drive the specific top priority executional elements throughout your organization.
Aspirations will kill implementation.
A vague strategy results in a diffusion of executional energy and lack of results. The Strategic Game Plan will serve the purpose very well. Use it.

B. Define the top three things that will drive 80% of your Strategic Game Plan. An intimate understanding of your strategy is required. Its not a matter of having a relevant Action Plan list of twenty things to work on. You need to purge the relevant but less compelling actions; focus on the critical few only.

C. Get every function - marketing, sales service, operations etc. - in the organization to determine the critical three things THEY must do to achieve the top 3 organizational priorities. Make this task non-negotiable. If every department in your organization doesn’t have direct line of sight to your overall strategy, people will tend to march to their own drummer and effective execution doesn’t happen.

D. Take point ‘C’ further and build departmental priorities into everyone’s Personal Performance and Compensation Plan. Make it real tough for any individual in the organization to deviate from the strategic imperatives of the firm. Pay people ONLY when they further the Strategic Game Plan. This motivation will create behavioral synergy and progress.

E. Cut the Crap. Eliminate non-strategic tactics and activity and make room for the things that need to be executed in the Strategic Game Plan. Execution around the new strategy gets impaired when people continue to do the old comfortable stuff. Assign a Cut the Crap champion to make this happen.

F. Pan on the Run. Learn from how you are implementing your strategy and tweak your execution plan as you go. Execute > Learn > Adjust > Execute >....

Cheers,
Roy
Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

  • Posted 3.20.10 at 01:00 pm by Roy Osing
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March 17, 2010

Pay attention to customers leaving NOT competitors entering

Traditional strategy building focuses on erecting barriers to competitive entry. This doctrine doesn’t go far enough and it certainly doesn’t create a sustainable position for your organization.

Here are the issues I have with this traditional approach:

- its not DiFFERENT; everyone follows this very common method of strategic analysis.
- it tends to be rooted in a more theoretical perspective and lacks the dimension of showing people how to do it.
- while everyone is spending time trying to keep the competition out, not enough attention is given to the existing base of customers.
- it diverts attention away from investing in value based Offers for the existing customer base.
- its futile; you will never keep a hungry competitor out or restrict its natural market activities.
- it tends to focus on artificial non-market tactics to prevent more competition such as regulation and law rather than beating them with better customer value.

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- it represses customer obsession in favor of dealing with non-market factors.
- it creates the illusion that competition can be restricted.
- it spawns an unhealthy culture that is preoccupied with preventing market activity rather than doing whatever is required to beat the competition in the trenches where the customers are.
- its a waste of valuable resources with an outcome that is inevitable. The telecom industry spend an enormous amount of money trying to prevent competitive entry into traditional monopoly markets through a time consuming and expensive regulatory process. The competitive tsunami wasn’t deterred, however, and they should have been paying more attention to creating better customer service and a marketing engine that provided compelling and unique value.

I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t pay attention to the competition, existing and potential. But don’t get obsessed about preventing them from doing what is reasonable given free market conditions. If they have an opportunity with your customers, expect them to make a play and respond by shielding your loyal customers from the onslaught of their competitive value proposition.

If you feel that a certain non-market response is necessary, go ahead and do it. But don’t let it be all-consuming. Don’t let it gobble up all of your resources. And don’t let it drain the effort in executing a customer response to the threat.

Observe your competitors; ACT for your customers.

Make it so difficult for your competition to attract your customers away from you - by providing them with constant unmatched VALUE - they will be frustrated and will have to endure so much pain, they will decide its not worth it. And they will retreat.

Create barriers to customer exit.

Cheers,
Roy
Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

  • Posted 3.17.10 at 01:40 pm by Roy Osing
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