Posts

Bob Caporale

Developing Your Strategic Proficiencies

There is certainly no shortage of articles, texts, and resources dedicated to the subject of developing business strategies. I myself am guilty of adding to this information pile, having just released a book on this very topic. But as we all attempt to decode the magic formulas and frameworks behind best-in-class business strategies, we should also take a little time to understand the skills that are required of the people who create those strategies.

The process of developing business strategies is a creative one¬ – not unlike writing music, painting a portrait, or designing a new architectural masterpiece. Creative endeavors produce creative outputs; and the success of those outputs will be driven not only by skills, but also by some level of proficiency in those skills. Using this terminology, it is useful to think in terms of four “strategic proficiencies” that can be mastered in relation to developing successful business strategies. They are:

Analysis
Recollection
Intuition
Artistry

In and of itself, this mnemonic of ARIA may appear to be yet another catchy little arrangement of words to help sell more books! And while there may be just a shred of truth to that statement, there is actually both a rhyme and a reason for my line of thinking behind this approach.

When assessing strategic proficiencies, I like to refer back to the four main questions that have formed the very foundation of strategic theory for centuries:


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About the Author

Bob CaporaleBob Caporale is the author of Creative Strategy Generation: Using Passion and Creativity to Compose Business Strategies That Inspire Action and Growth (McGraw-Hill, 2015) and the President of Sequent Learning Networks. His goal is to help business practitioners infuse more passion and creativity into their jobs. You can learn more about his work by visiting bobcaporale.com.

StrategyDriven Resource Management Article

To Outsource Is To Grow: Why It’s Good To Hand Over The Reins

One of the major problems faced by business owners all over the world is knowing when to let go. There are plenty of reasons why. As a company owner, you are used to making the decisions and there is a good chance you like to keep things under your control. As much as you like to think you are running a tight ship, if you are lending your hand to every aspect of your business, there is a very good chance you are spreading yourself thin. And at that point, it’s time to give yourself a break.

To Outsource Is To Grow: Why It's Good To Hand Over The Reins
Photo courtesy of Flazingo

You can’t do it all

You are right when you think you are the best person to lead your business, but you just can’t do everything. Delegating to a trusted employee is a perfect fit for the day-to-day running of your company. But what about those times when you have a special project or need help to explore emerging technology? Outsourcing to professional services may be the quickest and easiest way of handing these situations.

Specialist knowledge

Specialist companies will have a much deeper understanding of their industry than you can expect your employees to have. Sure, they know your business inside out but they may not know how to maximize your opportunity in particular areas. Let’s say your current in-house software system is bogging down from a recent influx of customers. In this case, IT outsourcing is likely to be better for you than leaving things to your under-pressure support team who may be challenged by their current workload.

The money

There are financial factors too, and your operational costs may be lower when outsourcing. Let’s say you want a new website designed. The investment required to find, employ, and train staff to do so often outweighs that of the one-off cost you would pay a freelancer or a small web developer company. There are offshore markets to explore too. Many highly skilled developers can be found in emerging markets such as India, where costs are far lower. Making use of modern communications technology makes it easy to share projects and get the same quality of work as you would get from your local town. And all for a lot less money.

Resources

At the end of the day, it’s all about resources: if you don’t have enough of them, you can’t possibly expect to grow. You may get a surge of new customers but if your team isn’t big enough to handle it, the influx could strike a serious blow to your business. Outsourcing at the right times and in the right areas mitigates your risk and opens up new possibilities. If you don’t free up the reins, stagnation – and possible implosion – is likely to be waiting for you at the next corner.

Hank Moore

The Big Picture of Business – Business Moving Forward From the Dirty Side of the Recession

The economy and business climate are now on the dirty side of the recession. Recognizing the damages done results in healthier run companies for the future.

This is comparable to what is called the ‘dirty side’ of a storm, hurricane or other weather created disaster. During those clean-up periods, the infrastructure rebuilds and optimistically moves forward by correcting certain damages done by the storms.

Signs are that our economy has somewhat recovered from the second worst recession in history. Many companies kept their heads in the sand during the economic downturn, fully intending to return to business as usual.

What happened in the recession was that many businesses went under. In my professional opinion, 25% of those that faded away probably should have. A great many frail companies were not on firm foundations and had abdicated their abilities to improve and serve customer bases.

As fallout from the recession, many people were thrown into the workforce. Many fell into jobs for which they were not suited. Many downsized and out-of-work people were forced to reinvent themselves.

Many became ‘consultants’ of one sort or another. Many fell victim to frauds and scams. Services and websites sprung up to capitalize upon the avalanche of new entrepreneurs. Some sites offered the platform to become a consultant with a national firm by paying them subscription fees. The already inflated world of ‘reputation management’ websites lured people into buying advertising in order to create the facade of being a ‘consultant.’

Distinctions must be drawn into three consulting categories (and percentages of their occurrence in the marketplace):

  1. Vendors selling products which were produced by others. Those who sell their own produced works are designated as subcontractors. (82.99%)
  2. Consultants conduct programs designed by their companies, in repetitive motion. Their work is off-the-shelf, conforms to an established mode of operation, contains original thought and draws precedents from experience. (17%)
  3. High level strategists create all knowledge in their consulting. It is original, customized to the client and contains creativity and insight not available elsewhere. (0.01%)
    1. As one distinguishes past vendors and subcontractors, there are six types within the 18% which constitute consultants (with their percentages in the marketplace):

      1. Those who still lead in an industry and have specific niche expertise. (13.5%)
      2. Those who were downsized, out-placed or decided not to stay in the corporate fold and evolved into consulting. (28%)
      3. Out of work people who hang out consulting shingles in between jobs. (32%)
      4. Freelancers and moonlighters, whose consultancy may or may not relate to their day jobs. (16%)
      5. Veteran consultants who were trained for and have a track record in actual consulting. That’s what they have done for most of their careers. (2%)
      6. Sadly, there is another category: opportunists who masquerade as consultants, entrepreneurs who disguise their selling as consulting, people who routinely change niches as the dollars go. (8.5%)

      Clients are confused and under-educated, not able to discern the ‘real deal’ consultants from the hype. That is why those of us who are veterans write these articles, speak and advise on best practices. Enlightened clients hire real consultants and get great value, as opposed to companies who fall prey to under-prepared resources.

      There are five generations in workforce, more than any time in our history. Each generation has different working styles and must be considered according to their attributes. Age discrimination for workers over 40 is rampant and cruel.

      Workplace illiteracy is higher than ever before. 50% of employees in the business world are considered functionally illiterate.

      Society must not be lulled into a false sense of security right now. The recovery phase of the recession has been steady and real. Much of the damage was done and will take years to fix. This could cause the next recession.

      I believe that small business is resilient and will try its best to stay on firm grounding. Wise entrepreneurs will bring in qualified mentors, as opposed to wanna-be consultants. Cool heads will prevail, and small business will recover and prosper.

      Small business has learned many lessons from the recession. While some will still fight change and adhere to the same processes that got them into trouble, I see great opportunities for forward-focused businesses.

      Paying attention to quality can realize:

      • Lower operating costs. Research shows they can be cut in half.
      • Premium pricing for preferred goods/services.
      • Customer retention.
      • Enhanced reputation.
      • Access to global markets.
      • Faster innovation.
      • Higher sales.
      • Higher return on investments.

      The biggest source of growth and increased opportunities in today’s business climate lie in the way that individuals and companies work together.

      It is becoming increasingly rare to find an individual or organization that has not yet been required to team with others. Lone rangers and sole-source providers simply cannot succeed in competitive environments and global economies. Those who benefit from collaborations, rather than become the victim of them, will log the biggest successes in business years ahead.

      Just as empowerment, team building and other processes apply to formal organizational structures, then teamings of independents can likewise benefit from the concepts. There are rules of protocol that support and protect partnerships, having a direct relationship to those who profit most.

      Professionals who succeed the most are the products of mentoring. The mentor is a resource for business trends, societal issues and opportunities. The mentor becomes a role model, offering insights about their own life-career. This reflection shows the mentee levels of thinking and perception which were not previously available. The mentor is an advocate for progress and change. Such work empowers the mentee to hear, accept, believe and get results. The sharing of trust and ideas leads to developing business philosophies.


      About the Author

      Hank MoorePower Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

      Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

      Power Stars to Light the Business Flame is now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.

Key Strategic Action Questions

Leaders can sometimes get sidelined and stuck in a rut by focusing too much on tactics rather than strategies, and on what happened yesterday rather than what needs to happen tomorrow and the many tomorrows to come. Here are some questions to answer when you are thinking about Strategic Action. You might want to rate yourself on the questions including – how often and how well do you ask yourself and your people these questions?

Questions to Answer

1. Mission – the organization’s core work; reason/purpose for being

  • Why does this organization exist?
  • Whom does it serve?
  • What distinguishes it from other organizations?
  • What do you do that gives the organization meaning?

2. Vision – an inspiring, passionate, image of what the organization needs to and will become; a mental, even visual, model of the future; what success looks like

  • What kind of organization do you want to become?
  • What legacy do you want to leave?
  • How do you want to be perceived in the world? Be known for?
  • What does your ideal world look like?
  • What’s organizational culture do you want to create and how do you expect that culture will help you achieve your vision and strategic goals?

3. Values – the behaviors and actions that create the culture in the organization, the beliefs that drive decisions about people and work

  • What are the principles that guide your decision-making?
  • What can your stakeholders rely on in terms of the quality of programs/services/products delivered?
  • What do you stand for and how do you show that to each other?

When MVV are established and clear, you can begin to align people and work in significant and meaningful ways. Everything you do should align with your Mission, advance you toward your Vision, and be in harmony with your Values.

4. Strategies – These FEW BIG things will define how the organization will get where it wants to go. The overarching approach that will significantly advance the Vision and stay true to the Mission and Values.

5. Tactics – Those actions/activities/work, that when accomplished, will align with and advance the Strategies

  • What are the specific areas of work you want to address?
  • What do you want to have completed and by when in these various areas?
  • How will your goals advance your desired strategic outcomes?

6. Objectives – Fall within the Tactics. This is the work each person’s can identify with personally and can link to the organizational strategy, vision and mission

  • What specifically is the work that will advance the strategy and tactics?
  • Who are the right people to have this objective on their ‘plate?’
  • Who’s responsible for making it happen?
  • What are the deliverables, milestones, and time lines?
  • What resources (people, time, money, space, other) are required to make this happen and happen well?
  • What processes need to be in place (i.e. project management, change process, structure) to ensure a positive outcome?

Remember, it IS the leaders’ job to establish the mission and vision. Values should be developed with input and buy in from those who must live by them.

A vision is only a true vision when it has longevity, is not person dependent, and can stand the test of time.

Organizations need a FEW SIGNIFICANT and CLEAR, MEASUREABLE strategies to help advance the larger Vision.


About the Author

Roxi HewertsonLeadership authority Roxana (Roxi) Hewertson is a no-nonsense business veteran revered for her nuts-and-bolts, tell-it-like-it-is approach and practical, out-of-the-box insights that help both emerging and expert managers, executives and owners boost quantifiable job performance in various mission critical facets of business. Through AskRoxi.com, Roxi — “the Dear Abby of Leadership” — imparts invaluable free advice to managers and leaders at all levels, from the bullpen to the boardroom, to help them solve problems, become more effective and realize a higher measure of business and career success.

How can you make the leadership leap gracefully? Well, learning and practicing effective leadership skills is a good place to begin. When you read Roxi’s book you’ll be well on your way! Click here to learn more.

How to Grow Your Strategic Mindset

“It just completely caught us off guard.”

That’s a statement you never want to hear as a business leader. But today’s VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world makes it incredibly difficult to plan and predict the future. At the same time, we’re all under pressure to move faster and get more done. So while thinking – and strategic thinking, in particular – is a key leadership responsibility, it often gets pushed aside in the midst of the day-to-day challenges of running the business.

In fact, there’s almost a universal resistance to long-term thinking in many organizations because we’re so focused on today’s problems: Are we making our numbers? Did the products get shipped? Did we resolve the customer issue?

The problem is, when you’re not thinking strategically, not only is it hard to see what’s coming, it’s hard to know where you are. A leader I spoke to recently put it this way: “When I’m mired in the swamp, it’s hard to see anything, much less the future.”


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About the Author

Ann Herrmann-Nehdi, CEO of Herrmann InternationalAnn Herrmann-Nehdi is CEO of Herrmann International, the originators and trailblazers of Whole Brain® Thinking and the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument® (HBDI®). A thought leader in her field, Ann has worked with many hundreds of organizations around the world of all sizes and industries, helping them increase their thinking agility to improve profitability, leadership, productivity, innovation and overall business results. She is an AthenaOnline management expert and a faculty member of the Institute of Management Studies.