Roy's Blog: December 2017

December 11, 2017

Why the best competitive advantage is reacting

Traditional business strategy methods give us many tools and techniques to build “the perfect plan”.

It offers structure in the SWOT process. It provides analysis in demand and forecasting models. It provides decision-making frameworks to assess the merits of various alternatives.

It’s a mature discipline that has definitely helped organizations chart a course for their future.

That said, I have two issues with it.

Reacting

1. Traditional planning is far too complicated; too expensive; too time consuming in relation to the benefits realized and it raises the false expectaion that the strategy will actually work as planned in a world full of rapid change and unpleasant surprises.

If the essence of the strategy can’t be counted on to succeed why don’t we simplify the planning process so that it is not overly onerous and complicated? So that it is expedient and not costly?

I have seen the folly of relying exclusively on this old school approach that gives the planner the false impression that the complexity of the approach increases the chances of its success.

This alternative has been road tested in the real world. Dumb down the strategy building process, get your plan just about right and execute it better than your competitors.

2. The traditional approach says virtually nothing about the principle of response. Successful companies are brilliant at reacting to surprise events they did not anticipate and those that are unable to adapt struggle and die.

How many strategies have you seen unfold the way you originally planned? I have seen none; it is the impossible dream!

The principle of response is the essence of the practice of planning on the run: Plan - Execute - Learn - RESPOND (Adjust) - Execute….

Solution

The essentials of planning in response to unexpected forces:

1. Keep the strategy building process simple. Cut the time to devote to developing your strategy in half to make room for more attention to implementation. Get your direction right. Be ok with “heading west”. Precision is your enemy.

2. Get to the real GUT issues you are facing. Forget about complicated mathematical formulae to help you understand the challenges you face. This is not an intellectual exercise.
Declare the three issues keeping you up at night that you must address in order to survive and thrive in an unpredictable world.

3. Plot a course of action. Spend copious amounts of time figuring out how you intend to implement your statement of direction. Assign accountability and specific timeframes to deliver results.

4. Execute! Execute! Execute! Bear down on getting results however you can. It doesn’t have to be elegant as long as you’re getting stuff done. And make sure everyone in the organization clearly understands what they have to do to support the execution plan; people doing their own thing is a nonstarter.

5. Learn what works and what doesn’t. Meticulously monitor and analyze results to discover what you should do more of and what you should stop doing.

6. React to your results and adjust your direction. Tweek your plan based on how effective your execution is and move on quickly.

6. Continue executing. Keep your feet moving; studying and pontificating satisfies the intellect and nothing more.

Remarkable organizations have a “reasonable” plan, but their competitive advantage is that they react to unexpected change better than anyone else.

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

SalesPOP! an online sales magazine

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  • Posted 12.11.17 at 04:23 am by Roy Osing
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December 4, 2017

9 clever things average leaders do that make themselves remarkable

Why are some leaders mediocre while others are wildly successful? Exactly what differentiates the leader that their followers “love” from the one who may have subordinates but no followers?

Over my 30+ year business journey I have witnessed and reported to many different leaders; some brilliant and some not so much.

My conclusion is that those who constantly deliver superlative performance through passionate and turned on teams have a very specific profile.

1. They are of “average” intelligence; NOT superstar intellectuals. Their academic pedigree satisfies the entry requirements to climb the ladder and they view it that way - the ante to play the leadership game.

2. They acquire a repertoire of practical skills from their experience. They build it by actively engaging in the implementation activities of their organization’s strategy. This allows them to be able to solve a range of problems that others without implementation depth cannot.

Practical skills

3. Their stable of mentors is broad and deep. They are able to draw on a vast resource base of skills and experience to support them and provide advice.

4. They are strategic micromanagers. They pick and choose the “hills” that require their personal involvement as the leader and they dive in. They don’t believe in across-the-board delegation; particularly in matters dealing with serving customers. They personally “paint a picture” in great detail to all employees of what they expect the customer experience to look like.

5. They spend copious amounts of time with the frontline. Gathering feedback from the people who are key to executing the organization’s strategy is a top priority to them, and frontline employees continually witness the leader’s presence in their workplace - listening, asking questions, taking notes.

6. They are consummate communicators. They are able to draw emotional support from people by presenting their vision and values in a compelling and passionate way. And they are “in the faces” of employees regularly, reporting on the progress of their strategy and stressing what action needs to be taken in the short term to improve performance.

Communicators

7. They never break a promise. They do what they say, and influence others to adopt the same behaviour as a fundamental organizational value. And ultimately this treatment is manifested in how customers are served and forms a vital component of their competitive strategy.

8. They are effective at letting go. They treat eliminating work that is no longer relevant to their strategy with the same priority as adopting new challenges. They close the doors on new hires until they can be satisfied that no further “CRAP” can be eliminated.

9. They thrive on imperfection. They understand that seeking the perfect solution consumes time and energy that could be applied to implementing and learning. They emphasize that “doing stuff” and learning on the run is more important than over-studying and risk aversion.

“Made to lead” is not for everyone; it requires noncompliance with many accepted norms of leadership. The thing is, its fundamentals create vibrant cultures and brilliant performance.

So why would any leader want to be “normal”?

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

SalesPOP! an online sales magazine

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  • Posted 12.4.17 at 03:44 am by Roy Osing
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November 27, 2017

This is what happens when you transplant a successful culture

In an unpredictable and intensely competitive environment every business faces a challenge to grow.

They generally apply one of two strategies to achieve this end.

The first is to grow organically; focusing the organization’s resources primarily on their existing customers with current and new products and they rely on obtaining new customers by winning them away from their competitors.

The second is to expand their customer base by acquiring another company and essentially importing the customer base that they hold. Apart from anticipated synergies such as reduced operating costs the purchaser “buys” an existing revenue stream.

There are mixed views on which approach is the most effective.

Organic growth can be slower than desired; acquisition growth can “on paper” be fast and effective, but often results in organizational integration issues (for example cultural and leadership differences) that prevent growth objectives from being achieved.

Shared values

There is a third growth approach, however, which is a kluge of organic growth and acquisition strategies; I rarely see this option used by any organization.

This involves building a brand or culture “@home” and transplanting it in the business acquired. If an organization has been successful in creating a culture around serving customers, for example, they would look to buy a company with significant growth potential and transfer their customer focused culture to it.
They would treat other common core competencies such as technological and strategic fit as secondary considerations.

Richard Branson is a good example of a leader who has been successful doing this. He developed a customer centric culture @home and then applied it to new businesses he bought but had no prior experience in.
For example his music business spawned his customer focus competency which he then applied subsequently to the many different businesses he acquired.

It makes sense.

Any business requires a strong customer bias to be successful. Incubate it in your own (semi-controlled) environment and then replicate it in the businesses you acquire.

There are three huge benefits of this “culture transplant” approach.

1. Your competitive advantage is scaled and multiplied across all businesses you buy.

2. Business integration risks are reduced as cultural differences are less of a factor.

3. The time to realize acquisition synergies is shortened as critical barriers to execution such as structure and employee engagement are minimized.

If you’re in the hunt for an acquisition as a means to grow, look for a company who first has a culture leaning in your direction and then has opportunities for synergy and growth.

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

SalesPOP! an online sales magazine

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  • Posted 11.27.17 at 04:20 am by Roy Osing
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November 20, 2017

Successful business people do these 10 things best

Successful business people focus on ten things that others don’t.

They:

1. Understand that the way to serve customers in an exemplary way is to serve employees in the same manner. If employees don’t provide exceptional service to one another in their daily roles, they are unlikely to provide customers with caring service that goes above and beyond what they expect.

2. Have a strategic game plan for themselves and use it as THE context for everything they do. They are guided by strategy, not tactics. They avoid chasing anything that doesn’t have direct line of sight to their strategy.

Successful

3. Don’t over-analyze everything. The degree of study depends on the risk associated with the decision to be made. They don’t get mesmerized with the tools of analysis; they use them appropriate to the level and risk inherent in the decision to be made.

4. Don’t look for perfection. The quest for the perfect solution (which doesn’t exist in any event) only takes valuable time away from execution. They understand that success is a function of making tries, and doing lots of imperfect stuff fast.

5. Are the champions of change in their organization which gives them currency among their peers and colleagues and the ability to garner the resources required to get things done. They get nervous with the status quo and always look for opportunities to create a discontinuity to force the organization out of its comfort zone.

6. Are crazy about execution. They are comfortable with loosening up on the development of their plan and not trying to make it perfect. They believe in getting the plan “just about right”, and focusing on execution. They understand that performance depends on how well they execute, not on the brilliance of the plan and strategy.

7. Spend copious amounts of time with the frontline; people in the organization who deal directly with customers. This is the way to find out what’s really going on. They want to discover the issues personally to make meaningful change, and not be jaded by what others want them to believe. They don’t have a stay in the office mentally.

8. Have a contrarian belief system by nature. They believe that the source of opportunity lies not in copying what others are doing, but rather charting a course that no one else is on. They are true 180 degree thinkers who look to go in the opposite direction to others.

9. Place a priority on meeting with customers regularly. There is no substitute for getting feedback on performance directly from a customer. They make it a priority and schedule it weekly on their calendar. And if faced with a conflict between attending an internal meeting or keeping a customer commitment, the customer wins.

10. Are relentless and voracious learners. Standing still intellectually isn’t an option in a world changing every instant. Value added to the organization depends on business people keeping up. They are “learning leaders” who believe staying ahead of the learning curve is essential to success.

The smart generation of business people know that success doesn’t come from an academic pedigree.

They know that brilliant performance is the result of practising the fundamentals of being different than the competition, staying close to customers, serving employees and executing strategy in the trenches.

Cheers, Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 11.20.17 at 01:06 am by Roy Osing
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