Now, before you start, I’m not advocating that all businesses should be franchised, hence the question mark.
What I am saying is that the most successful businesses on the planet could be franchised because they have wide ranging and far reaching systems. Systems are just repeatable ways of carrying out consistent business functions and tasks. Most businesses start with a team of people and then grow that team as demand increases. Many business owners then look at ways of automating functions to cut down on staffing. A cost saving.
I would suggest that the first thing any start up team should do is to look at the business when it is big. To imagine what it looks like when it’s all done and the size it could be. The reason for this is to design systems ahead of when they are needed and then build them as the business grows. But what happens next can strangle a business and become a constraint. Highly skilled and deeply knowledgeable people leave the business.
If you have run the business well with these people in post and invested in automation and AI then I would suggest that firstly, everyone is then trained to operate in all parts of the business. Why? Well, innovation. Everything that has gone into building the business has built a business that works as it is. Secondly, it frees up team members to think. To think and innovate and then think some more. To crystal ball gaze. To Imagine. To build a new future for the business. After all, they built the first one.
Whatever you do, whatever the pressure to reduce costs, whatever you think about rainy days…don’t lose this knowledge and talent. They are your future business.
There is some mystery about the array of platforms available to us as we try to inspire and motivate people to engage with us. The reason we communicate is to grow the business and the way we grow is through engaging with ‘friends’ who become our clients, ambassadors and evangelists.
We should use social media to capture the hearts and minds
of our followers by giving them something for free. Free works, free is good
and free is always well received. We should always be on the lookout for stuff
we can do for free.
This can be show and tells, knowhow, skills, knowledge and
facts. The way we assemble this is to first occupy the mind of your audience
and become them. Once you become them you will know what is important to them,
what is valuable to them and what will cause them to act on our behalf.
There is only one danger with sharing our knowledge, with
showing people our stuff and with giving things away that are important to
us…that we do it badly. We need to show excellent stuff using excellent tools
and through the right channels.
We are all capable of creating valuable and interesting
materials. Materials that are easy to produce, unique to us and, most of all,
valuable to our audience.
So when you are out and about feeling the creative juices
flowing through your mind you should come up with the messages we need to get
out there and creative ways to communicate them.
This is a ticker-tape type of platform to announce small
sound-bites about something current, interesting and important using just 144
characters including short links to information and photos…a snapshot in time
as the event unfolds.
Pros – quick and dirty…feels good
Cons – you need to work hard to build a good follower base and make it really topical (or it gets lost in the ether)
A forum based platform for sharing opinions and feelings
about a topic close to everyone’s heart. Something of real value that will
invite people to participate and share with their friends. This platform never
works (in business) as a ‘look at me’ profile as people build resentment and
will you to fail and fall. Nobody likes a happy t*”t…we are British and don’t
do the disingenuous and falsely gratifying selfie promotion…it’s crass.
Pros – a people’s platform and is ‘friendly’
Cons – needs a huge ‘follower’ base to have any
Now owned by Facebook, Instagram is a photo based repository
where you can enhance shots and host them online for others to see. The obvious
platform for location snaps and course promotion…but only when linked to
something of demonstrable value to the intended audience.
Pros – a picture tells a thousands stories
Cons – crap pics don’t have any positive impact
YouTube (or Vimeo)
A Google owned platform for hosting video content for show hows and live records of exceptional events. Training materials can be added and a knowledge base built. This can build quickly and categorised into useful and valuable content.
Pros – media heavyweight and forms a strong and useful resource. Can integrate into websites and blogs. Is more personal and gives a face to the viewer
Cons – do it on the cheap and it will work against you
This is the platform to show your credentials. It’s your
work CV and carries enormous weight when people search for individuals. It is
very useful to add gravitas to our online profiles and is impressive when
tended and displayed correctly.
Pros – great for an organisational CV platform (if the
CV’s are strong)
Cons – rarely gets used unless someone is looking
specifically for you of for people that do what you say you do.
This is like a scrap book of all of the (work related)
things you find interesting. Topics can be arranged into individual pin-boards
and you can deposit things you have discovered online that you want to share
with the rest of the world.
Pros – great nostalgic feel to it all
Cons – only usful for others to find your topics when
they are looking for topics that you like
G+ ( Google Circles)
This hasn’t taken off as everyone expected as we are still hooked into old platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. When (if) it does it will need some careful thought as it is powerful and links everything to everything.
Pros – immensely powerful and far reaching
Cons – used mainly by techies as they a) can be bothered and b0 can work it all out.
probably all know people, either at work or in our personal lives, who are
really good listeners. No matter what kind of situation we’re in, they always
seem to know just what to say – and how to say it – so that we’re not offended
or upset. They’re caring and considerate, and even if we don’t find a solution
to our problem, we usually leave feeling more hopeful and optimistic.
We probably also know people who are masters at managing their emotions. They don’t get angry in stressful situations. Instead, they have the ability to look at a problem and calmly find a solution. They’re excellent decision makers, and they know when to trust their intuition. Regardless of their strengths, however, they’re usually willing to look at themselves honestly. They take criticism well, and they know when to use it to improve their performance.
like this have a high degree of emotional intelligence, or EI. They know
themselves very well, and they’re also able to sense the emotional needs of
with high emotional intelligence are usually successful in most things they do.
Why? Because they’re the ones that others want on their team. When people with
high EI send an email, it gets answered. When they need help, they get it.
Because they make others feel good, they go through life much more easily than
people who are easily angered or upset.
Characteristics of Emotional Intelligence are: self awareness (understand themselves), honest in self reflection (know what makes them tick), self regulation (control their emotions), motivated (they look at the long game), empathetic (understand relationships), social (thoughtful and helpful).
Emotional intelligence is an awareness of your actions and feelings – and how they affect those around you. It also means that you value others, listen to their wants and needs, and are able to empathize or identify with them on many different levels.
The real key to developing organisational EI is to switch around from top down, to bottom up. Listening to the needs and wants of those below you will provide the platform for you to facilitate their successes. As a manager, your role is to assist those below you in succeeding and excelling in all they do.
I have always been interested in better-ness. Improvements that make things better than they are and what does this betterness mean? Statistically, Brazil dominated Germany in the recent semi final, they had more possession and they completed more passes yet they lost 7 – 1. Back in 2001 England beat Germany 5-1 and Germany decided to overhaul their entire footballing system and are the dominant force in the world game.
The statistic on which they centred their change programme
and one that is starting to be used in other improvement programmes is time on
the ball or the completion rate. When England beat Germany, Germany spent on
average around 3.4 seconds on the ball (the time each player had control of the
ball). When Germany beat Brazil they spent less than a second.
When we recognise change is needed we must focus on one key benchmark at a time and build a programme of improvements around it. Defining that benchmark is where the real skill lies. It is the single most important thing that is core to all decision making.
By reducing their time on the ball the German FA had created a core that affected everything else. Players needed greater skill, they needed to operate in more confined spaces, they had to think faster and read the game better, they had to be fitter and show more fortitude and mental resilience.
The alchemy and dark art of any consultant is to identify that key change champion. The one thing that will define all other changes. The one thing that will lead to success. They didn’t ask the players, they didn’t ask the manager, they asked consultant analysts to impartially study where wrongness starts and to replace it with a programme of betterness.
Competitive analysis is a statement of the business strategy and how its strategy relates to that of the competition. The purpose of the competitive analysis is to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors within your market, strategies that will provide you with a distinct advantage, the barriers that can be developed in order to prevent competition from entering your market, and any weaknesses that can be exploited within the product development cycle.
The first step in a competitor analysis is to identify the current and potential competition. There are essentially two ways you can identify competitors. The first is to look at the market from the customer’s viewpoint and group all your competitors by the degree to which they compete for the buyer’s money. The second method is to group competitors according to their various competitive strategies so you understand what motivates them.
Grouping your competitors allows you to analyse their strategies and identify the areas where they are most vulnerable. This can be done through an examination of your competitors’ weaknesses and strengths. A competitor’s strengths and weaknesses are usually based on the presence and absence of key assets and skills needed to compete in the market.
Through your competitor analysis, you will also have to create a marketing strategy that will generate an asset or skill competitors do not have, which will provide you with a distinct and enduring competitive advantage. Since competitive advantages are developed from key assets and skills, you should sit down and put together a competitive strength grid. This is a scale that lists all your major competitors or strategic groups based upon their applicable assets and skills and how your own company fits on this scale.
put together a competitive strength grid, list all the key assets and skills
down the left margin of a piece of paper. Along the top, write down two column
headers: “weakness” and “strength.” In each asset or skill
category, place all the competitors that have weaknesses in that particular
category under the weakness column, and all those that have strengths in that
specific category in the strength column. After you’ve finished, you’ll be able
to determine just where you stand in relation to the other firms competing in
Once you’ve established the key assets and skills necessary to succeed in this business and have defined your distinct competitive advantage, you need to communicate them in a strategic form that will attract market share as well as defend it.
Many IT Companies are failing the market because they are not seeing an obvious need nor are they satisfying customers but persisting in tying up firms with costs that are both over valued and over priced.
I have been looking at a client’s IT needs and their spend on IT support (risk insurance). They currently have a contract with an excellent IT company after first upgrading all of their kit so that it provides a great platform on which to manage their business information.
But my client doesn’t want to own any IT, they don’t want to manage any IT and they don’t want to learn about IT…they just want to use the software that sits upon it.
I don’t want to own a car, I don’t want to run or fix a car, I don’t need a car for image and I don’t need or want the latest car on the market. I want to travel from A to B safe in the knowledge that I will get there.
I really want an IT company that provides my clients with a platform on which they run their businesses…it’s just that simple?
But no, instead, I find myself aghast at the plethora of time consuming emails between the IT company, the broadband company, the line supplier, the telephony equipment supplier, the IT kit suppliers and the company employees. They are all apportioning blame on each other, when what my clients really want is for their employees to simply get on with their real work.
If I were to advise any IT supplier I would simply say “take away the problem”.
Provide everything on a rental system, look after everything, offer resilience, responsiveness and do away with obsolescence. Provide the kit, the licences, the connectivity, the support and peace of mind for a monthly fee per employee. Upgrade the kit every three years, monitor line use and provide bandwidth accordingly, check licences for cloud based software and ensure upgrades, back-ups and security happen behind the scenes as and when the client has downtime capacity.
Car companies don’t sell cars anymore. They sell complete solutions at a monthly cost…they finance peace of mind and aspiration. You just add the driver and off you go.
Many of the founding generations of any organisation can find themselves locked into ethos based thinking where the integrity of the original model is paramount and above any other consideration. Any organisation that has become ethos based and has no clear vision for either the Pathos or Logos elements of a vision will find themselves unable to articulate their vision. They have previously appealed to a sense of ethics, the reason they started up, and for those whom the way it was becomes their authority position, it has become everything for their attention and efforts. When their ethos is attacked, as we challenge their beliefs, they lose all reason, they have no argument, they revert to passionate and venomous vitriol.
Pathos is about connection, buy-in, believing the ethos rhetoric to be strong on facts (but it isn’t). The bible of our past iteration, the reason they all exist and that which brings meaning to what is otherwise an empty work existence. It’s the party line and it cannot be broken or they will have nothing left and no ethos on which to fight for solidarity and tribal relationships. The ethos mind is a campfire mind. They sit around the campfire, they watch the flames, they feel its warmth and they fear moving away, less it becomes unattended and goes out. The flames have mesmerised and paralysed them into a huddled mass. The ingredient missing from the leaders of this group is wisdom. So their only course is to revert to sympathy (pathos)…without you guys, we don’t stand a chance, so and so is too powerful…get behind the ethos and help us protect it…pathos has just teamed up with ethos…this isn’t a good place to be.
Logos, on the other hand, is logical, consistent, strategic and factual. It is based on reasoning, seeing the path to a bigger picture and focusing on the destination. It is the enemy of an ethos-pathos based group. Logos is the dry, emotionless face of big brother. The dominant thinking of the ruler, the heartless beast that will trample ethos and pathos to death.
But if it is handled wisely, carefully, compassionately and kindly, Logos is a powerful and phenomenal invitation to set aside fear and see that the world needs ethos and pathos alongside Logos, it needs to present a belief in all three to reach a new nirvana, a new destination, a fertile land from which we can all feed and nurture each other. Logos will point out the folly of ethos-pathos based thinking, it will attack their lack of reasoning and it will expose their weak underbelly. But when they team up…your message is loud and clear…everyone whom you want to follow you loves you…they get you, they want to be part of the story. Look at Apple…