Posts Tagged ‘tactics’

Business Killer: 5 Reasons the Status Quo is Not Enough

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

This week’s guest is Dick Albu, the founder and president of Albu Consulting, a strategy management consulting firm focused on engaging and energizing leadership teams of middle market private and family business to formulate robust business strategies and follow through on execution of key strategic initiatives.

 

The Status quo is defined as the current or existing state of affairs. To maintain the status quo is to keep things the way they are. Isn’t that the easier way? Wouldn’t it be nice if we all could just keep things the way they are and not change?

Unfortunately, the world does not work that way. Competitors change tactics, customers change buyers, governments change policies, strikes stop production and occasionally natural disasters cause havoc. As a result, the status quo is not enough and organizations need to learn to adapt and change. This brings us to the opposite of status quo, or the anti-status quo. Literally it means to refuse to compromise with the status quo. To experience the anti-status quo is to make a conscious decision to reject staying the same for the good of the business.

Listed below are five reasons why businesses get stuck in the status quo. One thing is certain; these five business killers will stand in your way from making the changes you need to win in today’s business environment.

1. Lack of clear direction:
If people do not know or understand the organization’s strategy, they will not know how they can help. Make clear your strategy and goals to everyone in the organization. Show your employees how they can align their work to the strategy and they will become energized and engaged.

2. A focus only on planning and not on execution:
Many organizations spend more time and energy planning strategy and very little time translating those plans to specific action. Without investing time in strategy execution, the tendency of most organizations is to relapse to the status quo. Document strategic initiatives, and assign activities to specific employees with measurable outcomes to get the results you want.

3. Distaste for risk:
Unfortunately change often happens quickly when it becomes urgent. Don’t wait until you are in a difficult situation. Change needs to
happen well before the crisis occurs.

4. Excusing mediocre performance:
Do not excuse sub-par performance. Help people by establishing a system of open communication. Top performers will rise up when given the opportunity, while underperformers will become quite visible as well.

5. Reluctance to hold people accountable:
Without accountability, the status quo will creep in and smother any attempt at change. Explain to employees what is expected of them and establish a good reward system that is linked to expected results.

Change is often times difficult to accept. It can be frightening and threatening to some because of its uncertainty and the risks it might entail. As a result, the status quo can easily become more appealing to many. Yet it is more dangerous keeping things the way they are, because in today’s business environment the status quo is not enough.

What are your experiences dealing with the status quo and the challenges of driving change in your organization? What have you done to overcome these challenges?

Dick can be reached at 203-321-2147 or RAlbu@albuconsulting.com. For more information on Albu Consulting visit www.albuconsulting.com.

Share

Strategies versus Tactics: Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Our guest this week is Marcus Miller, a Partner with Sticky Branding Inc., a business development consultancy specialized in firms selling professional services such as accounting, legal and wealth management. They help their clients sell more, faster by developing marketing and business development strategies for the post-Google era.

The “Trojan Horse” is a tale of how the Greeks took the city of Troy, which had been under siege for ten years. The Greeks tried and tried for a decade to take the city, but could not break through the walls. But the Trojan horse changed their fate.

Here are the quick facts. The Greeks constructed the huge wooden horse, and hid a select force of men inside it. The remaining Greek army made a great display of breaking down their camps, and pretending to sail away. They left the horse at the gates of the city of Troy as a “gift”. In celebration the Trojans pulled the horse into their city as a victory trophy. They believed they had won the war by standing their ground, defending their walls and holding the Greeks at bay for ten years. However that night the Greek contingent hidden inside the horse crept out of the structure and opened the city’s gates. The rest of the Greek army – the ones who pretended to sail away – were waiting, and the city of Troy was destroyed.

The Greeks’ strategy is one of deception. They deployed the wooden horse as a gift, and appeared to sail away in defeat. The strategy worked exceedingly well. Their goal was to open the city’s gates, and attack their unsuspecting foe. The wooden horse was an important part of the strategy, but it was simply a tactic.

The strategy is the most important aspect to winning a war. Marching into battle without a well thought out strategy does not deliver success. The Greeks demonstrated that for ten years. The Trojans were able to sustain the Greeks’ attacks, because their strategies were based on their conventional tactics of war. The Trojans understood the Greek history, and built defenses that nullified the traditional attacks. The Trojan Horse was a change of strategy.

Growing a business fits very well into the metaphor of waging war. When you focus on tactics you can get mired in a stalemate, and never achieve your goals.

The key to growth is strategy. You first have to come up with a clear strategy, and then execute it with effective tactics. The problem is tactics are a lot easier to grasp than strategy. Tactics are tangible like a wooden horse. In modern terms we talk about hiring sales people, implementing software systems, creating new websites and executing campaigns. And companies love to buy tactics. They see how tactic works, and can get moving on it right away.

Some companies even believe strategy is baked into the tactics. For example they may employ a marketing agency of some ilk (design, advertising, web, digital, whatever), and expect the tactical service they are buying to deliver a growth strategy. It doesn’t work that way. It’s like they’re assuming marching drills and frontal assaults will win the war without considering the big picture and how the enemy will counter. Adopting others’ winning tactics is not a clear strategy to succeeding.

Do you have a well thought out business strategy for winning your battles, or do you adopt tactics first and try to make the strategy fit? Trojan horses are not strategies, they’re tactics. They only turn into strategy when combined with other tactics to accomplish a desired outcome.

You can reach Marcus at 416.479.4403, ext. 21 or Marcus.Miller@StickyBranding.com.

5 Reasons Why I Love Execution

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

I think I may be in love.

I’m reading Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan’s book “Execution – The Discipline of Getting Things Done”. Although I’m only one third of the way through it, I believe it’s the most rational, practical book about strategy that I’ve read in years.

Why do I think that? Well, for a start I buy into their fundamental premises. Here are 5 that I think are particularly important:

1. The difference between a company and its competitors is often the ability to execute.

All business owners have access to the same business books, webinars, training programs, coaches and consultants etc. Why then do 2 companies in the same industry, operating in the same markets and with similar strategies, produce different results?

The only remaining variable is execution. Which doesn’t mean the market leader is executing well – they’re just executing better than the other players. As an old friend used to say – “In the kingdom of the blind the one-eyed man is king”.

Some of you may argue that we haven’t considered culture or leadership. In that case, read on.

2. Execution is the biggest issue facing business today – and nobody has explained it satisfactorily.

Bossidy and Charan make several great points. Over the years, a great deal of thought has been given to strategy development – the result of which has been thousands of books and articles. You can hire a strategy consulting firm (including mine) who will guide you through the various “models”. The same is true – or rapidly becoming true – of leadership development and culture.

But how much thought has been given to how to execute? Not much. (Although, I have to say, our firm has always emphasised it). Perhaps execution has been neglected because it’s traditionally been confused with tactics. But it’s not – execution is integral to strategy.

You could argue that the field of project management is concerned with execution. But is it? Or is it concerned with how to manage the projects that someone else decided have to be executed?

3. Execution is the major job of the business leader. The leader who executes puts in place a culture and processes for executing.

If execution is the biggest issue in business today it had better be the #1 job of every business owner. But there are a couple of bear traps here.

Entrepreneurs have to avoid the temptation to execute or do everything by themselves. They also have to avoid micro-managing or being too hands-on. If the owners don’t do that they lose sight of the forest and only see trees. They stop being strategic and get lost in tactics.

The authors say the most effective approach is “active involvement”. That means getting things done through people. But having such a detailed knowledge of how the business makes money that an owner can constantly probe and ask the right questions – leading people to develop the right solutions.

The owner/leader has to find the correct balance if she is to lead by example and make execution part of the culture.

4. Execution is a discipline, a specific set of behaviours and techniques that, if mastered, will give you a competitive advantage.

The “easy” parts of the statement are that there are specific techniques, they can be mastered and, if you pull that off, you will gain competitive advantage.

The more difficult part is that there are a specific set of behaviours to be mastered also. Human nature being what it is, changing behaviour – even our own – usually takes far more effort than learning a technique. But perhaps that’s where the discipline is required.

5. Execution includes mechanisms for changing assumptions as the environment changes.

This is my personal favourite. Many of the owners and management teams we work with get the intellectual concept of “no fault, no blame” when following up on plans and finding they haven’t worked quite as intended.

But even they find it hard to put guilt and value judgements aside when targets are missed because assumptions were “wrong”. The authors’ stress need for “realism” in running a business. Realistically then, has anyone ever been able to accurately predict the future? Let’s put the fault, guilt, and blame away for good.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m excited. There is just so much common sense in this book I’m looking forward to reading the rest of it. I should have read it years ago………but there goes the guilt thing again!

Post History