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Posts Tagged ‘strategic thinking’

What are the possibilities?

School holidays are nearly over and I’m looking forward to focusing on my clients and future clients.  My goal this year is to help as many people as possible to see the possibilities – ie think strategically!

Without the motivation and ability to think about opportunities, risks and possible consequences of elements outside our own control, it is impossible to prepare your business (or career) adequately for the future.  Experience tells me that many people process information as discrete data, unrelated to other information.  I sometimes wonder if this is because of the way we chunk topics through school and university – learning about each in its own silo and not necessarily thinking about how that topic is part of a whole, influencing and being influenced by all the other topics being studied in other departments.  This discrete way of viewing information inhibits managers and professionals from engaging in systems and strategic thinking, needed for preparing and planning ahead.

I have some favorite methods of increasing your capacity to think more strategically.  Here’s three of them:

  • When you read or hear news items, ask yourself how this could impact on you or your business, on your suppliers and on your clients.  Think through 2 – 3 levels of impact.  For instance, in my daily today, there was an article about how my city’s river might have to supply water to a larger city.   I wondered how it will affect manufacturing, farming and other local businesses dependent on water supply (my level 1 thinking).  And if they are affected, how might that flow on to my clients (service firms) – my level 2.  Level 3 would be the impact on my business.  I also wondered what benefits my city might gain from this – what would we want in return?  I thought about how that would affect everyone here in our typical ‘drought’ months, when we already have restricted water use. These are just some of the many aspects that I could relate to this topic.  But you get the idea.
  • Deliberately access a wide variety of information.  Read about topics unrelated to your normal reading.  Ask yourself how you can use the ideas in the articles in your own business, and how trends in these other areas could affect you or your clients.  It’s easy to access a wide variety of topics on-line, and off-line the magazines in cafes, doctors and dentists waiting rooms are good ways to extend your exposure to new ideas.
  • Mix and mingle with professionals and specialists in areas other than your own.  A scary idea, I know, but you’ll be amazed at their different world view, and also their predictions for the near future.  Just as you know lots about your area or industry, they know what’s happening in theirs.  And what happens in one place, sooner or later impacts in others.

In business, thinking about a range of scenarios and preparing for new risks and opportunities always beats out being forced to respond with no forewarning or preparation.  You can’t predict everything, but you can be regularly thinking about possible impacts and be ready to respond to change, whatever that change may turn out to be.

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Categories: Business and Strategy

How to Avoid Communication Problems and Be Inspired

How to Avoid Communication Problems and Be Inspired

My subscribers receive their 4th gift today, a very visual guide on how to avoid communication problems.  Tomorrow they will receive a very special gift of inspiration for work and life.  You’re welcome to join them and get the remaining of the 12 gifts.  These are not available anywhere else, and are absolutely without charge or obligation.  Click now to benefit in your work and business life, with my compliments.

Categories: Uncategorized

Your 12 Gifts for Christmas Here

It’s now less than a month to Christmas and I have decided that I have so much fantastic content in e-books, presentations and articles that help professionals and business people with strategic thinking, strategy and leadership – that I’ll give some of it away.  You get all 12 gifts.

The gifts you’ll receive  include:

  • How to have an awesome strategy
  • What to do if you think your organization’s strategy is wrong
  • Special book of quotes to inspire work and life
  • The 3 strategic thinking attitudes
  • How to lead by example
  • The problems with being strategic
  • Plus much more!

Reply by 8th December to ensure you receive all 12 gifts!  Go now to http://www.strategies-direct.com/12ChristmasGifts.html

(And if you like that I am giving away this content, please like my blog, or my facebook page, or my linkedin company page!)

Most effective ways to get new clients revealed

A new survey is finding out about the experiences of professional services firms in getting new clients, and the results will show processes that are working, those that are more cost-effective and those that might be a waste of your resources.  Despite the much touted fact that selling further services to existing clients is more cost-effective than obtaining new ones, the reality is that every business needs a steady stream of new clients.  If you could find out the most cost-effective methods to acquire new clients, you could save precious marketing budget ‘experimenting’.  Competitors are unlikely to directly share what’s working for them, but wouldn’t it be great to know?   Those who complete the survey can opt to receive the results.

For a whole variety of reasons, every business loses clients over time.  Some of the reasons could be –

  • You have succeeded or completed the work, and the client no longer requires your service
  • Client has moved to a competitor due to their specialization, marketing, service, price or some other reason
  • Client personally knows someone who has just set up in competition and transfers
  • Client has decided to do it themselves – perhaps employing in-house
  • Client’s business has grown or changed and they require services you don’t offer or specialize in
  • Client is unhappy with your service and leaves

No matter the reasons and how you respond to these, it’s essential to regularly replace these clients to maintain your business.  This is a critical function of your strategic thinking and planning.  The block many professional services firms face, is understanding really what’s working in the sector.  It’s very easy to waste resources spending time and money developing and implementing strategies that, had you understood the experiences of others in the industry, you would have steered clear of.  It’s logical to share what’s working within a sector, and what’s not working, but most firms are reluctant to share this directly with competitors.  Most are especially reluctant to openly admit what hasn’t worked.  Also, what’s worked in other professional services sectors who are attracting similar clients, could also work for you.

The survey has been developed to find out, anonymously, what’s working and what hasn’t been cost-effective or good use of resources for professional services firms.  It’s short and can be completed in just a few minutes.  On the final page there is a web address that you can go to and opt to receive the results.  The survey closes at the end of October and can be accessed at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/professionalfirmsnewclients

 

 

It’s tax week – strategy is out the window!

I spend a lot of time reading, thinking, writing and talking about strategic thinking. That’s what happens when you become an expert in something, isn’t it? You spend more time than most other people on that topic, therefore you know more about it. It’s not rocket science. Everything I read about experts suggests that you also must role-model your topic. So for instance, if you are advising others about wealth creation, it adds significantly to your credibility if you are actually wealthy yourself. If you are an expert in organic food, there’s an expectation that you personally buy and eat organic food. You get the picture?

So as I specialise in strategic thinking, it is reasonable to suggest I ought to think strategically myself. By and large, I naturally do – though that’s not to say I don’t notice detail, nor that I always spot opportunities or risks. However I normally do better than this week.

This week is tax week. GST and Income tax all due together! This week strategic thinking has gone out the window. I raced into my bank account and robbed the savings account to pay the tax. Yes, I have an account especially for tax that is supposed to cover it, but it never does quite. Especially when two lots are due at once! So this week there’s no future view, it’s just find the money and pay up. This must be why they say ‘Cashflow is King’.

Does that mean strategic thinking is no use when there’s a short-term crisis? Well yes, actually – in the midst of the crisis is not the time to be doing your strategic thinking, even if you specialise in it. At that stage, it’s survival mode and the focus is very much short-term. However, if there’s been some decent strategic thinking and planning going on, much will be planned for and there will be responses ready. The point of strategic thinking and planning is to help minimise the knee-jerk reactions.

So back to my tax account – guess I better up the automatic payment…..

Categories: Uncategorized

4 reasons NOT to make New Year Resolutions

I’m not sure who came up with the idea of New Year Resolutions.  I suppose it’s logical that a new year feels like a new start, so it seems a good time to set some new goals.  The problem is, they seem to be rarely successful.  Here’s why – and why if you haven’t made any this year, you shouldn’t feel guilty:

  1. They are often made in haste.  It’s often on New Year’s night in a party atmosphere, or at least a time of reminiscence, that people suddenly hit on a resolution.  If there’s been no real thought about it, and particularly how it’s going to be achieved, you’re unlikely to stick to it, or really make it happen.  It’s more like a wish you make when you blow out the birthday cake candles – if you’re really lucky it might come true without you having to do anything!  Hmmm…
  2. They are often made under the influence of alcohol or other dubious circumstances.  See above!
  3. The basis for making them is often regret, or at least some sense of dissatisfaction eg “I am overweight so this year I will lose weight”, “Last year I didn’t connect with many friends so this year I am going to be more social”.  This basis of setting goals fails to assess what your real priorities need to be and the reasons why you are not doing those things.  Without some positive vision of what you want going forward, you are unlikely to make the necessary changes.
  4. Resolutions usually stop at a vague statement, like “I will lose weight this year.”  Rarely do people apply the good old “SMART” formula that helps ensure the goal is able to be achieved.  Nor do they develop an implementation plan and a method of keeping themselves accountable for achieving it.

So if New Year resolutions are not a great way to set goals, what is?  Well perhaps a new year is a good time to sit down and do some strategic thinking.  You could ask yourself the following types of questions:

What might your world look like in five years time?

What will have changed and how?

What do you want your future to look like?

Where do you want to be at the start of 2018 – in business/career, personal life, health, financial, lifestyle and so on.

Based on that, where do you need to be next new year ie the start of 2014?

What’s the gap between now and then?

What do you need to take account of, that is likely to happen and be outside of your control?

So what then should your goals be for this year?

How will you achieve them – step by step?

What other information or resources do you need to achieve them?

How will you know if you are on track?

How will you keep your goals top of mind as you go about your daily routines?

These are some of the questions you need to ask yourself and then find answers to, to make successful goals.  But they don’t have to happen at 1 January!  Personally I take most of January to work through this process for my life and business.  Some of my clients prefer to do this at the end of the calendar year in preparation for the next year.  And for some of my clients, it makes more sense for them to do this at the start of their financial year, rather than the calendar year.  You might also choose your birthday month or some other significant time to prepare some annual goals.

So if you didn’t make New Year resolutions, no need to feel you missed out.  And if you did, it’s time to finish the process by answering all these questions and tying down your goals!

 

Jenni Murphy-Scanlon is an author, consultant and trainer specializing in strategic thinking and leadership. She offers you a free report on ‘How to Think Strategically’ at her website – http://www.strategies-direct.com

The telling question!

I read a discussion a while back in a LinkedIn group that asked “When would projects or programs be strategically aligned?”  The question seemed so bizarre to me that I clicked through to read the full discussion.  The detail didn’t explain the question much further, but it seemed that the writer was indeed asking that question (I thought he might have missed out the word “not” after ‘programs’!!)

Talk about asking a telling question!  If any of my clients asked me this, I’d be seriously worried about firstly, how they spent their time, and secondly, whether I should be spending my time and energy working with them.  It’s very enlightening when someone asks a question that so clearly should only ever be asked in the reverse.

If he had put the ‘not’ in there after programs, that would make sense.  It would show that he understood that projects and programs should always be strategically aligned, but was wondering if there was ever a time they wouldn’t be.  In other words, ‘I understand the rule, but is there ever an exception?’  And likely there are one or two exceptions.

But he asked it the other way, as if the rule was the reverse – the rule is that projects and programs are not required to be strategically aligned, so is there ever an exception when they should be aligned?  So presumably in his organization, there is little or no link between the strategy, and the projects that are undertaken – no link between strategy and implementation.  Therefore people are busy implementing something other than strategic priorities.  Hmmmm…..

It’s often the way in which questions are asked that indicate common practice in an organization.  If culture, practices and processes do not require people to think about strategy, and align their decisions and priorities with the strategies, then that culture will not encourage strategic thinking, nor be successful in implementing strategies and achieving long term goals.

What types of questions do people in your organization ask about priorities, decisions and projects – and what does that indicate about strategic thinking in your organization’s culture?

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