Roy's Blog

May 2, 2016

Traditional strategic planning is all screwed up; 7 building blocks for a #GamePlan that works

I have been the “victim” of traditional strategic planning methods for years.

“Strategic Planning 101” sessions are not fun; more often than not they are painful to sit through as participants are dragged through a pedantic process which can be extremely boring.

It is time consuming. Literally hour and hours of effort are consumed by preparation, in-session presentations from subject matter experts and debate over the most critical SWOT’s.

ISSUE #1 - current planning emphasis is on creating “perfect” strategic direction; how to execute it plays a minor, sometimes non-existent, role.

The process masks itself as a precise science in a world of uncertainty, randomness, unpredictability and imprecision. There is an infatuation with applying the tool set of strategic planning with the belief that the more analysis you do, the more perfect your plan becomes. Paralysis by analysis is often the result and more valuable time is consumed.

“Helium-filled” goals attracts much of the attention in terms of what is desired in the long term. The conversation includes this language: “market leader”, “world class”, “number 1” and “pre-eminent supplier”.

Direction setting occupies at least 80% of the time in an attempt to get it “perfect”. It is tight on strategy but loose on execution.

HOW the strategy will be executed in the marketplace gets little attention. It assumes that execution naturally follows the declaration of the new strategic direction strategy. REALLY? When has that ever happened?

Rather than seeing evidence of active use, “meticulously ironed” planning documents sit proudly on managers’ shelves gathering dust.

ISSUE #2 - there is no practical tool set to determine how an organization can truly separate itself from their competition.

Traditional strategy building is ineffective in producing a true competitive advantage claim to separate an organization from “the herd”; to stand-out and be different in a remarkable way that their customers care about.

The process doesn’t highlight the need to do so nor does it provide practical tools. Traditional marketing concepts like product and market leadership, first mover advantage and technology innovation are relied on accomplish this purpose but are ineffective in clearly defining how one company is different than another.

My Strategic Game Plan process addresses these inadequacies of traditional planning.

It has execution as its primary focus and it provides a practical and proven tool to create effective competitive differentiation.

It’s called “Strategic Game Plan” because the objective is to SCORE! The football analogy is quite apt; move the ball towards your opponent’s goal anyway in a series of moves you can successfully execute and get it across the goal line.

The process of moving down field doesn’t have to be elegant. Exploit whatever opportunities the defence gives you and just get the ball in the end zone. It really doesn’t matter if you score with a “Hail Mary” pass or a series of 10 running plays.

7 building blocks of the Strategic Game Plan:
1. Answer 3 questions and you have your game plan - declare your growth goals; choose the customers you intend to serve; determine how you intend to win.

2. Get your plan “just about right” - rebalance your planning efforts; loosen up on strategy and tighten up on execution.

3. Plan on the run - your game plan is never complete. Start executing; learn what works and doesn’t; adjust as you go.

4. Focus. Focus. Focus. - choose a handful of critical objectives to achieve that have the potential to deliver 75-80% Of your game plan. Don’t try to “boil the ocean” and go after too much. Your efforts will be diluted and your progress blocked.

5. Cut the Crap -  eliminate the projects and activities that cannot be directly related to your game plan. Crap consumes precious bandwidth you need to do new things. Hanging on to irrelevant tasks will put pressure to add resources that you don’t need and can’t afford.

6. Create your ONLY Statement - cut through the clutter of vague competitive claims out there and declare what you and ONLY you provide that is compelling and relevant to the customers you have chosen to serve.

7. Review your progress at least every 3 months. Keep execution alive and in everyone’s face as the new business as usual.

Out with the traditional strategy; in with the strategic game plan as the model for the new market realities.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

Other articles on planning you might like
Ship lots of imperfect stuff, imperfectly
To execute well slim down your middle

  • Posted 5.2.16 at 05:24 am by Roy Osing
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April 25, 2016

6 BIG challenges #Millennials face in their careers

I recently received this tweet: “@JeanYanglistens: @RoyOsing , Thank you so much for the inspiring career articles!! smile could you advise the biggest challenges Millennials face in their careers?”

Great question.

Here are my top 6:

1. Your life expectations may be unrealistic; re-examine them. You are tagged as narcissistic and feeling you are entitled. “It’s all about you” doesn’t cut it in most organizations. Many are trying to change to get closer to recognizing your lifestyle wants but it won’t happen overnight. Others simply won’t go there. Either way, for the short term at least, you either have to change your expectations or look to the unconventional niche business stream for a job.

2. Be clear on the organizations you intend to target. Identify those who you think have the potential of satisfying your wants and expectations. You don’t have enough cycles to splash and spray your resume over the environment and hope you will land a suitable job. It’s ineffective in any event. Do your research.
Study the leaders. Narrow your options down to 3 or 4 high potential organizations to begin with and expand from there once you have established yourself.
Develop a killer resume.

3. Work on your answer to the question “Why should I hire you for this job and not one of the five hundred other Millennials who applied?” The job hunting herd is huge and if you can’t differentiate yourself from others you will be invisible, ignored and unsuccessful.

4. Fair or unfair, the business world perceives you as being “here today; gone tomorrow”; changing jobs frequently when the work environment and/or money is no longer acceptable to you.
A resume characterized by a mobile persona raises questions about desirability as it flies in the face of what most organizations want: an employee who is “committed” to what the company stands for and is prepared to stick around for a while.
“Why should I hire you when you have a proven track record of “disloyalty”?” is a question you will have to have a convincing answer to.

5. If you’re not a marketer you’re at a disadvantage. There is a good chance that you will exhaust all of your target employers and will have to step out on your own. Fortunately you have the “on paper” credentials necessary to build a business in the digital and social media world. What is critical for your survival, however, is to be able to find a niche market opportunity where no one else is playing and where your skills can be applied.
Hone your marketing competencies. Look for small segments where no others play. Talk to people about what they “yearn for”. Build capabilities for other millennials to engage with and learn from each other. Create an innovative work environment for others in your tribe.

6. Don’t look for the “perfect job”. Get one and THEN work on your career. In fact I don’t think your objective should be to land a career; it’s not reasonable given your circumstances. Get a job - learn something - apply what you have learned productively - decide if it is what you want to do FOREVER - take the next step.
Your career will evolve from this process. The truth is you don’t know what your career will be when you start. Too many variables. Go do stuff and see where it takes you.

Think about it.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

Other articles on your #career you might like
10 steps to stand-out from the crowd
Need a Mentor? Find someone who has actually done something
Networking without purpose is a waste of time

  • Posted 4.25.16 at 05:47 am by Roy Osing
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April 18, 2016

6 questions to determine if #experimentation is taken seriously by #leaders

You can spend months on analysis.

You can create as many scenarios as you can imagine.

You can employ all the tools available to mitigate risk.

But you will never be able to predict the outcome of trying something new. There are simply too many variables in the equation: competitor moves, economic shifts, regulatory changes and technology disruptions are always in play to confound the predictability of any action you plan to take.

You may get close. But you will never get it exactly as you intended.

There is a gigantic chasm between any plan and the results of the plan.

And the only way to bridge the chasm is to act quickly and see the results of your action; execute, learn from the execution, and modify or “deep six” the plan on the run.

This requires a planning process that enables a stream of experimentation; that has the “Why don’t we… and see what happens?” question at its core.

Answer these questions to determine if experimentation is taken seriously in your organization.

1. What is the conversation generated by leadership. Do they encourage testing new ideas by asking “Why don’t we…”? or do they ask for a detailed business case with yards of analysis that requires months to complete.

2. How much analysis is performed when considering a new course of action? Is it increasing or decreasing in favour of taking action?

3. Are annual objectives set for the number of experiments you want to conduct? Is the objective included in the organization’s performance balanced scorecard?

4. Do experimentation champions get continuous recognition? Does leadership play an active role in the proceedings?

5. Do your organizational values include a strong experimentation focus? If value statements don’t expect a “let’s try it” attitude it won’t happen. And an innovative culture will never flourish.

6. Are experimentation results compared to targets prominently displayed in the workplace for all to see? Priorities must be “in the face” of all employees to reinforce their importance.

You can’t plan your way to progress.

The yard sticks move forward only by people doing stuff; by turning brave ideas into crude deeds constantly.

Stand-out leaders encourage this activity by asking “Why don’t we…” often and passionately.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

Other articles on Xecution you might like
Execute don’t pontificate!
Answer 3 questions and you have your #BusinessStrategy”
Pain is strategic
Be anal about execution
#StrategicPlanning: 8 ways to dump your CRAP

  • Posted 4.18.16 at 05:36 am by Roy Osing
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April 11, 2016

Are you in a category by yourself?

What category are you in?

Engineer? Author? Content Marketer? Accountant Executive Recruiter? Advertising Manager? Consultant? Personal Trainer? These are all common ways to describe the box you play around in.

How big is the category you’re in? There are literally hundreds and hundreds of individuals in each of the professional categories above.

Successful careers are determined not only by your performance, but also by the number of other people who share your category.

The larger the population in your category, the more intense competition you face and the tougher it is to rise to the top.

It’s extremely difficult to get noticed in the crowd and attract the attention you need to progress in your career.

The secret is to redefine your category so you are the only one in it.

Reduce the crowd you’re in to you and only you.

This means getting really granular in terms of what defines you as opposed to anyone else.

So, you’re NOT an accountant! You may carry the accountant tag, but in terms of positioning yourself for personal growth opportunities, you are an accountant with certain attributes that make you unique. And as such, you cannot be compared with other accountants; you are in an accountant category by yourself.

So how might you go about defining you, the accountant of 1?

Here are 5 questions to ponder.

1. What added education do you have (that is useful to the organization) that traditional accountants typically don’t have?

2. What skills and experience have you amassed that would surprise people coming from a “numbers person”?

3. What unique business ideas do you have that make you MORE than an accountant?

4. Are you a numbers or finance person who can add strategic value to the organization ?

5. Do you have a gift for relating to others which might be an unusual trait of someone who fulfills this introspective role?

Consider the standard definition of your job as the foundation on which to build a structure which applies only to you.

Your basic role is but the entry level to a successful career. You need it to play the career game but it guarantees nothing unless you add to it dimensions of uniqueness that others value.

There is no formula for this work, no equation that yields your category of 1.

It requires introspective examination in combination with an accurate assessment of what the marketplace needs.

Get going.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

Other articles you might like
Need a Mentor? Find someone who has actually done something
How to take your #career beyond the crowd
To be successful, you have to do more than apply your knowledge






  • Posted 4.11.16 at 04:03 am by Roy Osing
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