Why talk to Ben?

As you know there are a variety of people you can call upon to help you accelerate performance. Let’s see. You’ve got consultants, executive contractors, strategists, coaches, accountants, mentors….the list goes on.

So why should you talk to me? Consider these reasons. 

1. Strategic high performance

When working with clients my focus is on strategically analysing, troubleshooting and solving big challenges and problems through the power of strategic high performance.

Using the high performance equation as a base framework, strategic high performance is a powerful performance improvement philosophy that merges principles of strategy, psychology and design thinking as applied in business and elite-level sport/fitness.

For me, the bigger the challenge the better.  It has to be something that’s keeping you awake at night with either fear or excitement. And results? On both an organisational and personal level I help clients to:

  • Build superior strategies and plans
  • Develop more appealing products, services and brands
  • Reduce team dissatisfaction and improve culture
  • Improve leadership and management skills
  • Generate higher sales conversion rates and customer retention
  • Improve personal relationships
  • Develop mental skills and performance
  • Become leaner, fitter and healthier
  • Balance their business and personal lives better
 Whether it’s quantitative or qualitative outcomes that are required, the focus is always on solving problems, generating ideas and getting results.

2. Master strategist

I am first and foremost a strategist, which is defined in the Collins dictionary as “Someone who is skilled in planning the best way to gain an advantage or to achieve success.” Success can be measured in a number of ways but ultimately a strategist helps a team or individual to achieve a goal or solve a problem. The core role and tasks of the strategist?  In a nutshell, a strategist:
  • Gets clarity around a situation or problem
  • Gathers information and intelligence
  • Analyzes information using traditional and visual/design analysis tools and methods
  • Identifies points of competitive advantage and disadvantage
  • Brainstorms strategies and solutions
  • Applies probability and risk/reward analysis to evaluate strategies
  • Designs traditional and/or one page strategic plans.
The man most responsible for popularising the role and importance of the strategist is Chinese military strategist and general, Sun Tzu, who is most well-known as the author of the classic book on strategy, The Art of War.

Just to give you an idea on how influential Sun Tzu is, The Art of War is part of the literary collection the US army keeps and “during the Persian Gulf war in the 1990s, both General Norman Schwarzkopf. Jr and General Colin Powell practiced Sun Tzu’s principles of deception, speed, and attacking the enemy’s weakness.” (source Wikipedia)

Highly successful sports coaches such as Phil Jackson (Multiple NBA championship-winning basketball coach) and Steve Hansen (World cup-winning rugby coach) are practitioners of Sun Tzu’s strategy principles – as are business leaders including Larry Ellison (CEO of Oracle) and Jack Welch (former CEO of General Electric). And all this despite the fact that Sun Tzu penned his strategy principles over 2,000 years ago.

Over the last decade or so the importance of the strategist has become more widely recognised in business.  Indeed, in a 2008 article titled The Rise of the Chief Strategy Officer, authors Tim Breene, Paul F. Nunes and Walt Shill highlighted:

Companies are starting to add CSOs to their management teams for a variety of reasons. First, CEOs need the help: Complex organizational
structures, rapid globalization, new regulations and the struggle to innovate, among other challenges, make it ever more difficult for CEOs to be
on top of all parts of the business, even when it’s something as important as strategy execution.

Further, the nature of strategy itself has changed during the past decade. Strategy development has become a continuous process, and successful
execution therefore depends more than ever on rapid and effective decision making. (Accenture Outlook: January 2008)

Chief Strategy Officers are employed mainly by large corporates, while independent strategists are hired as external consultants by businesses of all shapes and sizes.

The educational pathway for the strategist is usually through the business school route.  I am academically trained in the discipline with my education including a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) with a specialisation in Strategic Thinking from Waikato University.

Just as important as the experience and training is the typical strategist’s personality type.  According to the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator, one of the world’s largest personality tests based on psychiatrist Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types, the genuine strategist has what’s known as an INTJ personality type. To elaborate:

It is commonly found that Strategists are more prone to possess a combination of 4 specific personality traits, which includes Introversion, iNtuition, Thinking and Judgement forming the acronym INTJ. However, this combination of personality traits is known to be very rare amongst people, making strategists to be very sought after especially by major firms. (Source: Wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategist)

My Myer-Briggs profile? INTJ.

3. Design thinking practitioner

Since 1994 I have been a practitioner and educator of the most powerful approach to developing strategy and solving problems.  What is the approach?  It is called Design Thinking.

 

As stated in the visual, design thinking is a design-based approach to developing strategies, solving problems and improving performance.  It applies “whole brain” thinking that integrates ideation with analytical thinking processes.  The result?  Design Thinking combines art and science to create innovative concepts, strategies and solutions to problems.

Ultimately, design thinking prioritises and values the use of creativity and intuition. This is in contrast to the highly analytical, left-brained approach that is so prevalent in business and taught at business schools.

Design and visual thinking also uses visual tools such as matrices, process visuals, infographics, diagrams and prototypes to analyze, spark ideas, convey information, and also to outline plans and strategies. 

The benefits?

Studies have shown that when a creative approach to planning is used, the brain’s intuitive part – that part of the brain that is more creatively oriented – is engaged more easily. As a result, creativity is enhanced, obstacles can be more clearly seen, the tools used allow you to better see the forest from the trees, and ideas are generated more easily.

With design thinking you won’t get as caught up in paralysis by analysis and the process of strategy making and idea generation won’t be as frustrating. Most importantly, your brain’s analytical side and creative side will work together better. Ultimately, using these tools gives you more good ideas, more often.

The concept of design thinking has evolved over the last 20 years and has really come of age since the mid-2000s.  Large companies that utilize visual thinking and planning include Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Google and Coca-Cola, and its principles and practices are taught at such universities as Harvard and Yale.   In fact, Stanford University now has a school specifically dedicated to design thinking.

As part of my visual and design thinking approach to performance improvement, I’ve developed a range of tools and models to help improve the planning and execution process.  These tools form part of my Visual Strategy System.

You can liken these tools 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.

Here is an example of one such tool, called the Strategic Growth Blueprint:

 

As illustrated, this is a business development model designed to assist businesses with the strategic development and growth process.

4. Blended performance coaching model

In the last 10 years there has been a huge growth in the professional coaching industry, with executive and businesses coaches working to improve the performance of CEOs, managers, team members and their organisations.

Where do you find a good business and executive coach?  That’s a challenge because the fact is, excellent coaches are few and far between. Put another way, there are a lot of unqualified, poorly skilled and inexperienced people calling themselves coaches.

Some people think that buying a coaching franchise, attending seminars or being a member of a coaching association automatically makes them a good coach. Wrong!

And, there are so many varying definitions as to what a coach actually is and does, it can become quite confusing. 

My view?  Firstly, the role of the coach is quite simple.  It is to improve skills and performance.

Secondly, the coach uses a variety of methods to improve performance, and these are outlined here in my coaching model.


The Blended Performance Coaching model is based on the fact that coaches perform multiple roles when working with clients such as strategist, teacher, motivator, technical expert, relationship-builder, visionary and problem-solver.  Because of this, the best coaches possess a unique skill set.
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As a coach I follow a fully integrated coaching approach when working with clients, using the model outlined above.

 5. Deep “in-the-trenches” experience

Best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell popularized the 10,000 hour theory which, in a nutshell, states that becoming an expert in something takes 10,000 hours of dedicated practice and focused work.  The theory itself was developed by Karl Anders Ericsson, a Swedish psychologist and one of the world’s top researchers on expertise.

If a person is able to dedicate 20 hours a week to improving a skill through practice and performance, then they potentially will be world-class in ten years. So, to be good at something you’ve got to put in the time.

Top sports coaches and military leaders, when forming teams, will always ensure that the first ones on their lists will be the battle-hardened ones who have combined their hours of training with “in-the-trenches” experience.  In other words, deep expertise.

In the commercial world a person does not have deep expertise when all they have is a university education and a few years of experience.   That doesn’t cut it.  The starting point for deep expertise is ten years of practical experience and practice.  Once you hit the ten-year mark – and provided you have been constantly up-skilling and developing your craft – then your deep expertise starts to really shine.

Me?  I’ve been developing and working in my craft for a long, long, long time.  More than twenty years in fact.  And I have the grey hair, wrinkles and war wounds to show for it.

6. Unique range of services

With me you have access to a unique range of troubleshooting, analysis and planning, and coaching and training services to improve business, team and personal performance.

Specific services include:

  • Strategist OnCall.  My flagship service. A hybrid consulting, planning and coaching service that helps you to develop and excel in the High Performance Super 7. 
  • Strategic MBA.  Training and education programmes which teach “important stuff they don’t teach enough at business school.”  Focuses on visual/design thinking, visual planning and soft skills such as relationships and building team culture.
  • The Strategic War Room – Strategic consulting and planning applying design thinking and visual planning principles. 

Surprisingly affordable, these services are available for as little as $6,000 which is about what you’ll pay for a part-time receptionist for a couple of months.

What to do now?

Firstly, if you haven’t done so already I recommend you subscribe to The Ben Bartlett Lessons. Eagerly read by CEOs and business owners in countries throughout the world including India, USA, Australia and New Zealand, The Ben Bartlett Lessons is a must-read for growth focused individuals.

With The Ben Bartlett Lessons you receive notifications of our latest articles, plus invites to free workshops, access to free PowerPoint presentations and much more.

Most importantly, you will get to learn, understand and apply strategic theory and principles to improve your business.  To subscribe, simply fill in your name and email address below.

Next, if you want immediate help, I suggest you contact me to arrange a no-obligation discussion – by Skype or email.  And tell me what your biggest  challenge or goal is.

Once I’ve assessed your situation I’ll give you a brief outline of what I think you need to do.  I’ll be brutally honest and tell you if it’s a strategic or tactical problem you need to overcome.  Then I’ll give you some specific, concise recommendations.

Contact me on 021 158 0019, or you can send me an email to ben at benmbartlett.com

So go ahead.  Subscribe to my e-newsletter. Or write or call to tell me what your biggest business challenge or goal is.