Posts Tagged ‘opportunity’

Everything has advantages and disadvantages, and no amount of hype and fashion-mania can eliminate that basic law of nature.

I’ve been reading (and rereading) books by Vaclav Smil. He’s a professor at University of Manitoba who is a world renowned expert on energy, energy flows, and modern industrial society. He analyzes claims about various industrial processes and energy conversions and uses in terms of their technicalities. More important, though, is that he highlights the advantages and disadvantages of each of these options and practices. There is no “perfect” energy conversion or industrial process. All we have are positive effects and negative effects, cost and benefits, opportunities and risks.

This resembles the way I was trained to develop and assess tactical, operational, and strategic plans and manoeuvres in the Army. You first must know what your realistic options are. Then you develop them sufficiently to identify key advantages and disadvantages, costs and benefits, and opportunities and risks. There is no free lunch, much less a perfect option or plan.

If someone comes along telling you they’ve got the perfect solution or a cost-free alternative, you’re better to treat them as a snake oil salesman, because what they’re selling is akin to a perpetual motion machine.

© 2016 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

In the field of military strategy, it is well-known that the capacities to recognize changes in the environment and to react quickly thereto provide a considerable, if not essential advantage. The same capacities apply to business strategy.

I call these capacities strategic flexibility; they demand that one continually observe the environment in order make strategic corrections. Businesses that rest on their laurels or that ignore this need can be overtaken both by events and by their competitors.

This implies a quick, accurate method to make adjustments to strategy. Therefore, I propose a model of strategic flexibility I call the 7-M method. The method refers to the following: mission, market, mark targets, mass, manoeuvres, morale, and marketing. To these must be added the plan of action that successfully unites the efforts of stakeholders both upstream and downstream of the business in question.

  1. Mission is the distillation of what you offer the world and its value.  It’s what defines your unique competence and motivations and the needs you meet. A mission statement must communicate your intentions in a short, precise manner that can be understood by all concerned:  employees, customers, suppliers, and even competitors. The mission, therefore, serves as the guiding star for your business.
  2. Market represents the potential clients for your goods or services who might buy from you since you can meet their needs with good value in your products or services. Market include the target groups among your clients and their needs. Market also includes an analysis of current market suppliers and of the decision-making processes of potential customers in terms of their long-term, mid-term, and short-term goals. This permits opportunities to be exploited and possible risks to be minimized or avoided.
  3. Mark targets provide concrete objectives that can be measured as part of your action plan. The ultimate target for your business constitutes your vision of where you want to be, say, in a year- and-a-half or two years hence. From this vision one can identify a hierarchy of goals, tasks, and results to be obtained.
  4. Mass refers to the most economical and effective ways of concentrating resources in order to meet goals as quickly as possible. This requires an analysis of your key strengths and weaknesses in order to permit success in your market.
  5. Manoeuvre refers to the operations according to the elements of the action plan including ensuring that the necessary tools and resources are available to permit successful operations. This includes the delegation of responsibilities such that people have sufficient margin of manoeuvre so they can respond successfully to opportunities and threats in the environment.
  6. Morale refers to the willingness of people to persevere in order to reach goals. While the welfare and the happiness of employees is important, it is not the be-all-and end-all of your business. Clear vision, mission, and plans are the key to good morale. As well, clear-headed analyses of risks to the execution of strategy and action plans along with contingency plans permit the prevention and minimization of possible risks to success.
  7. Marketing is the last, but certainly not the least part of flexible strategy. It requires clear messages of internal and external communication. There are three elements to a good marketing plan: general marketing vis-à-vis the overall brand and image of the company; marketing campaigns designed to meet customer needs within given geographical territories; plans for business development and sales that will permit successful, long-term and repeated relationships with customers that also will lead to establishing a solid reputation and possible new clients.

The action plan is the key to success because a vision without the required resources and concrete actions is only a hallucination. The essential elements of a good action plan include: a description of the situation being addressed such that readers will understand the purpose of the plan; the mission statement; detailed activity and resource plans; support and administrative requirements; internal and external communication plans; and the assigning of responsibilities to key personnel.

Obviously, doing all the above without the aid of an experienced expert in strategic and operational planning and leadership will be difficult. I invite you to contact me with your questions and suggestion of businesses and people that might benefit from application of the 7-M method. In the meantime, start with a description of your mission statement and an analysis of your potential markets; performing these steps alone should provide you with immediate benefits.

© Alcera Consulting Inc. 2016. We encourage the sharing of this information and forwarding of this email with attribution. All other rights reserved.

  • You learn more by moving than by staying put. The normal impulse is to stay put and defend your position when you don’t know where to go or what to do. Unfortunately, this leaves you open to rapid change in the market as well as competitive threats. Moving gradually into a new market or a new product or service category gives you time to learn and adjust your approach without over-investing at the beginning. You also get to pull back if, as often happens, you’ve made a mistake or misjudged the situation.
  • Advance on a wide (or wider) front. It’s best to send scouting parties to report back about the lay of the land and the enemy’s positions, then to follow up with more forces if you’re successful. In business, this can mean trying many, small experiments with new products or markets to see what will happen, and then preserving those that succeed.
  • Don’t put all your eggs into one basket. If you can’t make accurate and timely predictions to know what will succeed in the long run then it stands to reason that you need to diversify investments and assets. This doesn’t mean becoming a conglomerate. It is preferable to experiment in a controlled manner at the edges of the business while using profits in existing business lines to fuel that exploratory work.
  • Always cover your moves. When I was a young infantry officer, we were taught to cover our moves with a firebase that could provide support in case we came under enemy fire. It’s better to move gradually over time into a new market or with a new strategy by small steps. This can be done remarkably quickly if you keep up the pressure by making incremental changes in a deliberate and consistent manner.
  • Reinforce success with backup forces. Once you have made it through the enemy’s front lines, apply resources to reinforce the initial breakthrough. The same notion applies to experimental business efforts. Success with one or some of them can be reinforced with new resources or with resources transferred from existing business lines. The result can be better positioning for the future.
  • Maintain reserves to exploit success. All of these principles require some level of resources, first to experiment and then to reinforce success by investing in the winners. This requires the maintenance of cash reserves or access to capital either from an existing business line, by borrowing, or by attracting new investors.
    I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Time spend in reconnaissance is rarely wasted. Whenever a military force is advancing against enemy positions, it always sends out scouting parties to reconnoitre the terrain, confirm enemy positions and strength, and find gaps and weaknesses in the defences.

Selling should be conducted in the exact same manner. Time spent in preparation, is rarely wasted. Even if you think you know what you’re up against, you must sound out your clientele and send out metaphorical scouting parties to size up the client, identify potential objectives, wants, and needs, as well as identify and assess the competition. You can do this through a phone call, telemarketing (if you’re reaching out to find leads), online research, or background research from your company’s own data banks and CRM software.

The key point is, don’t go in blind, even if you think you know everything you need to know. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that’s not just good motherly (or doctorly) advice.

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

We’ve been looking at the 6 steps in the simplified “battle procedure” for business. So far we’ve covered steps 1 and 2, respectively: warning and time estimate. This week we cover step 3, reconnaissance.

Reconnaissance is the act of seeking out new information or confirming existing assumptions and knowledge in order to decide on the best course of action for future operations. Reconnaissance is so valuable because it allows us to question the hypotheses that have guided us to that point. For instance, you may consider launching an attack on an enemy position by going through an unfamiliar area. However, you need to send scouts to confirm that the route provides good cover, is passable to your forces, and will give you the element of surprise. The last thing you want is to take a route to your objective and find upon doing so that it is impassable to tanks or you come under enemy ambush.

You can and must apply the same logic to your business strategies and tactical plans. Say you want to launch a product or service in new geographical market. It helps to scout out the terrain ahead of time to determine the following:

  • Are there competitors?
  • What do they offer?
  • What is the nature of buyers, their needs, their wants?
  • Are there government regulations you must be aware of?
  • Do you have the resources to establish a bridgehead in hostile territory?
  • Are there potential allies who can help you succeed in this terrain?
  • What is the weather (i.e. economic and social environment) like?
  • What are the threats and opportunities?

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time! Ask me about my new “Battle Procedure Briefing” for business.

Richard Martin is a Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. Richard brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2014 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

Now is the time to get ready for battle!

And you don’t have to go in blind. Why don’t you call on the best strategist to give you the edge you need?

Richard Martin served as an infantry officer for 21 years in the Canadian Army.

He is the expert in applying military wisdom and know-how to winning business and organizational battles.

Richard shows you how to apply the fundamental principles of military strategy and leadership: manoeuvre and discipline.

Richard will lead a real, honest to goodness BATTLE PROCEDURE BRIEFING for you and your team that will propel you to victory!

“Did you know that an infantry battalion only needs about 3 to 4 hours of prep and planning time to be battle ready? What are you waiting for to get the same benefits for your outfit?” – Richard Martin

Duration: 3 to 4 hours, at your location

Investment: variable depending on needs and objectives of client

Contact me right away to see if you have what it takes!

Richard Martin, The Leadership and Strategy Catalyst, Alcera Consulting Inc.

514 453-3993

Richard.Martin@alcera.ca

http://www.alcera.ca

Check out Richard on video: http://www.alcera.ca/en/videos-teleconferences.php

Richard Martin is the author of Brilliant Manoeuvres: How to Use Military Wisdom to Win Business Battles

Brilliant Manoeuvres is Sun Tzu’s Art of War combined with Drucker’s The Effective Executive.”

— Alan Weiss, PhD, Author of the bestselling Million Dollar Consulting

The agenda and content may vary according to the client’s objectives, Richard’s professional opinion and experience, or the exact nature of the situation under assessment. While the procedure is important, it is also critical that strategic and tactical conditions guide the process. Richard has the expertise and discipline to keep the team on track with a systematic approach.

Note: Battle-dress not required… 😉

Uber-consultant Alan Weiss, PhD, is running the Million Dollar Consulting® Conference in Atlanta in March. He already has 130 people signed up, but his “stretch goal” is 200. As a long-time member of Alan’s excellent communities I can attest to the incredible value of this opportunity. If you’re a solo consultant, coach or speaker, or if you run any kind of professional services business (e.g., accounting, legal, etc.), then this is the place you should be.

The site is below, with dates, presenters, and logistics. This is also one of the most inexpensive ways to be with Alan, as some registrants have pointed out, since he’ll be speaking and present throughout the three days. Please note that the special keynote speaker will be Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of the entire field of positive psychology. Wow!

Million Dollar Consulting Convention