“The company without a strategy is willing to try anything. If all you’re trying to do is essentially the same thing as your rivals, then it’s unlikely that you’ll be very successful.”
– Professor Michael Porter. Harvard Business School.
So what’s your firm’s winning strategy? Your blueprint for a successful future? These are important questions because as suggested by world-leading strategy professor, Michael Porter, if you don’t have a good strategy then you will most likely fail.
As a business owner, analyzing your competitive landscape and then developing powerful strategies are two of the most important tasks you need to perform. Trouble is, if you’re like most business owners, you haven’t been taught key principles and techniques of effective analysis and strategy development.
Until now. Why?
Well, to help you create your winning strategy and blueprint for the future I’ve developed a range of proprietary services that help to produce:
- Innovative analysis, strategies, and ideas
- Concise, dynamic strategic and marketing plans
- Powerful execution, leading to improved performance and growth in sales and profits
I’m going to outline these services in greater detail shortly. However, let me first share the three key things you need to develop a bulletproof strategy for your business.
Three key things you need to analyze, develop and execute a winning strategy
1. A mindset and a commitment to strategy
As a business owner, literally every minute of the day your mind is generating ideas and making decisions. However, due mainly to the day-to-day operational pressures of running a business, the things you most often think about are mundane, urgent and operational in nature. Put another way, little of your time is devoted to strategic thinking.
When taken to its extreme, getting too caught up in your day-to-day business operations can be disastrous, and can adversely affect personal and business relationships, stress levels and even general health. Just as importantly though, when you’re heavily involved “in” your business, you can’t see enough of the forest because you’re too much in the trees. In other words, your capacity to think strategically is impaired.
Actually, if you take a look under the hood of your business, then you’ll find a number of strategic weaknesses. Rampant competition, poorly differentiated products and services, declining demand, razor-thin margins and sluggish sales are just some indicators of this. They are also indicators that you may lack effective structures and systems to deal with growth demands.
The solution? You need to call “time out”, engage in some strategic thinking, and start working “on your business.” And that requires a mindset and commitment to strategy.
When your business is strategically strong it is easier to gain and maintain a strong market presence, your business is more favorably seen as the brand preference in the eyes of prospects and customers, and it is harder for competitors to imitate you. And when you have the right structures and systems in place you become more operationally effective. Ultimately, you will be more successful.
Again though, it starts with a mindset and commitment to strategy.
2. Powerful strategic planning tools, models and processes
To develop powerful strategies and plans you need the best tools, models and processes, built upon the principle of design and visual thinking.
Design and visual thinking uses visual tools such as sketches, matrices, drawings, charts, infographics and prototypes to analyse and formulate strategies and plans – thereby more effectively engaging the brain’s right hemisphere. This is in contrast to the left-brain spreadsheet, numbers and sequential type planning that is more commonly used in business.
The concept of visual thinking has evolved over the last 20 years and has really come of age since the mid-2000s. Large companies that utilize visual planning include Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Google and Coca Cola. Even some major universities – such as Harvard and Yale – now teach visual thinking to their business students. Why?
Visual thinking technology used in many domains – from the military to top sports teams
Actually, the concept of visual thinking is not new, and has been used in a number of domains for many years, from the military through to sport. Here is an example from World War II.
And this example is a rugby “play” that teams I’ve coached have learned and used.
In both these examples, a visual process has been used to lay out the plan for beating the opponent. Further, because the plans are visually focused, they are easier to read and understand.
My take home message to you? You must take a visual thinking approach to strategic thinking and planning.
3. Access to an expert strategist, coach and advisor
You have your accountant. You have your lawyer. And you likely have marketing and HR partners and suppliers helping you. What’s missing? Your strategist and strategic coach.
The Collins dictionary defines a strategist as “Someone who is skilled in planning the best way to gain an advantage or to achieve success.” So, the strategist fulfills the role of an analyst, troubleshooter, and planner.
Ultimately, a strategist should be a member of your master mind team or advisory board.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of the master mind the term first appeared in 1937 in Napoleon Hill’s best-selling book, Think and Grow Rich. Hill’s book – which has sold over 20 million copies – featured research with some of the world’s richest men of the day, to uncover the key factors that made them successful.
Anyway, according to Hill the master mind is the “driving force” behind all success. Further, Hill stated that, “No individual may have great power without first availing himself of the ‘Master Mind’.” (source: Think and Grow Rich)
So what is a master mind? Napoleon Hill defines a master mind as, “A coordination of knowledge and effort, in the spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.” (source: Think and Grow Rich). More specifically, it is a carefully chosen team or group of people with high-levels of skills and expertise, who uses that expertise to strategize, plan and work together to achieve a goal.
And an advisory board? The advisory board is a modern-day equivalent of the master mind, and is defined in Wikipedia as “a body that advises the management of a corporation, organization, or foundation. Unlike the Board of Directors the advisory board does not have authority to vote on corporate matters, nor a legal fiduciary responsibility. Many new or small businesses choose to have advisory boards in order to benefit from the knowledge of others.”
In recent years advisory boards have grown in popularity as business owners – particularly those who run small to mid-sized firms – recognize the need to access external expertise.
So that’s the role of the strategist.
If you have the commitment and mindset to strategy, then I can provide you with the strategic planning tools and the expertise you need to develop and execute winning strategies. Firstly, let’s look at my OnePager Visual Strategic Planning System
As part of my visual planning focus, I have created the OnePager visual planning methodology and more than 100 strategy visuals and decision-making tools, which include SWOT, 80/20, Probability and Risk/Reward analysis visuals. Here’s one such model.
You can liken a model to a recipe for your favorite cake. As you know, when baking a recipe tells you the ingredients and tools you need, and then provides step-by-step instructions on how to use the tools to turn the ingredients into a delicious delight.
In essence, the cake recipe provides structure and a process that when properly followed, produces a great result.
And the benefits of using visual models and tools?
- Analysis is much more creative and insightful. Because you’re using visual tools to analyse you can better see the forest from the trees.
- Your strategies and ideas are more innovative. My visual tools will help you to identify and create the right strategies you need to compete.
- Resulting plans are more concise and easier to read – with a completed plan that highlights your strategy and key actions on a single A3 or A2 page. And the best part is, they can be better understood by everyone in the organization – from CEO to the cleaner.
- Perfect for owners of small to mid-sized firms. If you’re the owner of a smaller firm – say with fewer than 50 employees – forget the traditional, complex planning approaches taught in business schools and books for large corporates. My approach is far simpler…and it is perfect for the little guys.
That’s what you get when you use the OnePager system.
How to get access to the OnePager system and my brain? Here are some specific service options for you to consider.
Strategist OnCall is my flagship service which gives you access to high-level strategy expertise on an ongoing basis. In fact, it’s just like having you very own chief strategy officer, but at a fraction of the cost.
Strategist OnCall is a one-stop service that provides you with on-going access to powerful analysis and clever ideas in the areas of:
- Business growth strategy
- Product and brand strategy
- Financial and asset growth
- Sales and marketing systems
- Strategic HR (Structure, people, relationships and culture)
- Personal leadership and skill development
Included in Strategist OnCall is access to my strategy toolkit and services which include:
- The OnePager visual strategic planning system and tools
- The War Room
- OnePager Strategic and Marketing Plans
- Strategy Sessions
- Strategic MBA workshops
Strategy Sessions is the core service in Strategist OnCall. These are regularly scheduled sessions where we analyze, review, amend your strategy and look to improve overall performance. You can use Strategy Sessions in a variety of ways including:
- Due diligence on a business idea or investment
- Guidance in developing a business strategy or plan
- Formulating a strategic position and marketing strategy
- Analysing and developing brand strategy
- Product development and brainstorming.
- Using me as a sounding board to bounce ideas off
- Getting fresh, independent eyes to look at a problem
Further elements of the service are:
- Analysis and advice in the creation and development of your strategy
- Help with writing your strategic and marketing plans
- Coaching and advice in the areas of strategy, strategic HR and organisation development, high-performance and strategy execution.
- Attendance and input at board or executive meetings, regularly scheduled strategy sessions
- Ongoing coaching and unlimited access by phone, Skype and email for a year.
Sounding Board…with ongoing, unlimited access by phone, email and Skype
With Strategist OnCall you have a sounding board for strategic advice. It could be something like giving me a phone call and asking for my view on a particular situation you want an opinion on, through to having me attend leadership, sales or marketing meetings and providing input.
When working with me you won’t be charged every time you make a phone call – a practice so common in professional services such as law and accounting. So you have the freedom of contacting me as and when the need arises, knowing that the billing meter won’t be going.
You see, with many traditional consulting relationships it is not uncommon for the consultant or advisor to charge clients for every minute of access. This often puts a client in two minds as to whether or not to seek advice from their consultant, knowing that every time they do, they will be charged. Not with me.
Again, you get unlimited access by phone, email or Skype, so you never have to worry about being billed for that email or phone call.
Coaching, Training and Mentoring
In addition to the above, I can also provide you with mentoring and coaching for either yourself or senior members of your management team in areas such as business strategy, strategic human resources and high performance.
So that is a summary of Strategist OnCall.
The War Room – Strategic Review
The War Room Full Strategic Review is a comprehensive strategic review service for you and your leadership team. Less expensive than Strategist OnCall, it analyzes your current strategy and develops a strategic framework and direction for the future using the Strategic Growth Blueprint as the planning model:
The War Room Full Review includes 3 days of consultation which can be structured as 1/2 day or 2-hour sessions. Plus it includes 6 months of follow-up and support by Skype, email or phone.
One way to learn the art of visual strategic planning is to take one of my workshops. With these workshops, you will get specific instruction in visual planning and my OnePager system.
The other services offered include:
- Business and high performance coaching
- Marketing and Sales Strategy – planning and development
- Business/investment/case study writing
For more information….
For more information on my services, please call (09) 534 9417. Or email ben (at) benmbartlett.com.