Tag Archives: strategy

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contingency plan

3 Reasons Why You Will Need a Contingency Plan

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Will your strategy work? Do you have an awesome plan? The truth may be that the better your plan, the more you are going need to develop another plan. A contingency plan, do you have one?

It is true that many small businesses get by without putting pen to paper for a plan. They don’t put data entry to digital document either. They stroll along for years based almost entirely on gut feel.

Sometimes this works, but normally it has some magical limitations. Of course, no one really knows those limitations because the plan is just a feeling, a fairytale, some magic.

Strategic Plan

Is a personal or organizational strategic plan the solution to become unstuck?

In my opinion, a plan is always a good idea. A very precise and detailed plan certainly helps avoid anything falling through the cracks. Are there problems with a tight plan?

Yes, but when you plan for the unplanned there is a good chance you’ll keep moving in the right direction.

Should you have a backup plan?

Contingency Plan

There are many reasons to have a contingency plan.

Here are three of my favorite reasons:

  1. Surprises. Things aren’t always going to go exactly as planned. There is a time to push or force the issue. There is also a time to go with the flow. Surprises have an interesting way of shaping a slightly tweaked direction. A direction that still gets us where we need to be.
  2. Specifications Change. The specs are the specs in the tightest plan. What if the specs aren’t the specs that are needed? Identification of a want isn’t always the same thing as the need. Fluidity in design should be part of the contingency.
  3. Missed Deadlines. The metric of time is valuable. Too soon can be nearly as problematic as too late. Along the way both surprises and specification changes may alter the timing. Sometimes the best question is not about, “what if,” it is about, “what we’ll do when.”

Tight, highly detailed plans are a good idea. The best plan almost never happens.

The perfect plan is one that is built with a contingency.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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strategy failures

Strategy Failures You May See Coming

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Nearly everyone wants a good strategy. Being more strategic will pay off big when the strategy you plan for is the right strategy. Why do so many teams and businesses get sideswiped with strategy failures?

Planning Mistakes

The first mistake that many organizations make is that they hire the wrong strategy consultant (doing it internally, without external expertise, may also be a mistake).

Who is the wrong consultant? The consultant who believes he or she is the only one for the job and the consultant who believes strategic planning is about a SWOT analysis. Both are wrong.

Strategic planning includes much more than a SWOT, much more than asking about problems, and much more than suggesting do X and you’ll achieve Y.

One example is the strategy of how the business will use its time. Time is something you’ll never get back. Yes, you can start again but if the competition didn’t have to, good luck catching up.

Understanding Time

Restaurant owners understand time. Bad weather and nobody comes in for dinner. That revenue is lost forever. When your patrons choose to eat at home that is a meal you’ll never get back. The day is lost, the time is lost, gone.

The business that ships a commodity product understands time. When your customer waits the threat of the customer seeking a different vendor is pending. Being the quickest is likely linked to your brand. If it takes too long, business may be lost, gone, done. Forever.

Then there is the business that is built around value. The confusing part of value is understanding where you waste your time.

Value is subjective and having just enough is good. Doing more than enough could arguably be a waste of time. Working towards perfection takes time, and you’ll miss everyone who wants it the quickest.

Strategy Failures

Too many strategy planners get stuck in the moment of assessing what the company wants to do and confusing that with what the company needs to do.

Creating a clever mission statement is good. Stating you’ll become the best in your region, state, or the nation may be a want, but that has nothing to do with understanding how you’ll position for that achievement.

Don’t want to waste your time? Strategy failures often develop from the first mistake you make.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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benchmarking strategy

Benchmarking Strategy And The Edge Of Technology

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Things around us seem to be moving quite fast. Rapid change somehow has become the norm, at least for many. What is your benchmarking strategy? Are you working off the latest or processing on dated belief?

Experience as a Tool

Experience is a wonderful tool. While it may seem odd to label experience a tool, it is something we use to constructively solve problems. Are you drawing upon your past experiences to create a path for the future?

If yes, good, because it certainly can be constructive. At the same time though, individual experience can sometimes be a roadblock.

We have several ways to create metrics or measurements for project evaluation or future strategy. We can measure against past performance (our data), we can measure against benchmark data (public information), or we can measure against management expectations.

What are you measuring against? None of these, one of these, or maybe a combination?

Compared to History

Things are changing rapidly. Our technology and information are a driver for rapid change. In the past 125 or 150 years we have seen an incredible pace of change.

The best way to go to the market to buy or sell products 150 years ago was likely a horse and wagon.

Today going to the market is accessible for buying and selling from a small device held in your hand. Technology which has developed and accelerated in just the past twenty years, some would suggest in the past ten.

An ever present dynamic to all of this is the access to technology. In some cases, it is a willingness to access it.

Benchmarking Strategy

New benchmarks will be set today. Tomorrow more new benchmarks. The day after, the same. We can find many of them on the internet.

Your work group, department, and leadership team will choose whether to access the latest benchmark data or not. What is the benchmarking strategy you are using?

When you strong arm strategy from your personal experiences, you tend to create a future based on the past.

Get out and see what is happening on the edge.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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idea strategy

Idea Strategy and Keeping The Best

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Strategy is often cited as one of the most significant factors for success. Certainly, strategy is important, without it people and teams tend to hop from one thing to the next often without any focus. How do you manage the best ideas? Do you have an idea strategy?

It Starts Early

It probably starts for us at a very young age. We keep what we want and we throw away what we don’t.

Your mother or father told you to eat your vegetables, but you may have discarded them, hoping to never see them again.

It may have happened with the coolest t-shirt, the hottest sneakers, or even trends with how we style our hair.

We keep what may be popular, what seems to fit in, or what makes a great new statement. Anything else would seem ridiculous.

As grown adults in the workforce we must navigate political climates, generational challenges, and closely monitor our career path. Does this affect what you or the team decide to do about strategy?

Idea Strategy

The choices often become about keep or throw away. It is a debate of the idea, the concept and interpretation of what will work. It may be about what is trending, hot, or the competition is now exploring.

We attend meetings and strategy sessions. Sometimes we leave there thinking, “Didn’t we suggest that during the last meeting?” or “Didn’t we bring up a few months ago?”

When ideas are thrown away, it may only be temporary. Perhaps instead of throwing them away we need an idea strategy. A method to keep them close at hand. In this case ideas are only set aside for this circumstance, at this time.

Is There Proof?

I remember my great aunt in the early 1980’s suggesting she should have kept her shoes from the 1920’s, the style was popular again.

Who would have thought you could grow to love peas, lima beans, and broccoli?

In grade school I could have never have imagined that shaving your head may one day become cool.

For strategy, keep all the ideas close at hand. Even the bad ones. What may be a bad idea today could be the hottest trend tomorrow.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten RespectNavigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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metric assumption

Metric Assumption and Measuring Intangibles

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Successful leaders and organizations often cite the creation and monitoring of metrics as the tool to track progress. Does the metric always provide the correct measurement? Are you operating using the metric assumption?

In the strategy meeting someone will ask, “What is the metric here? How will we measure our progress and result?”

It is a fair question.

Of course, the other option is that no one asks at all. No one spends any energy to think about the metric, they just want to roll up their sleeves and take a deep dive.

Either scenario may achieve some results. Either scenario may involve some risk, some guess work, and need to be fluid with outcomes.

Metric Assumption

It seems we may make a metric assumption. The assumption is that when we have metrics and measurements, we can more easily assess the results. While this is likely true, does it cover everything about the project?

People are sometimes suggested to remove the emotion, focus only on the result, and everything that matters is in the KPI (key performance indicator).

Do you have metrics or measurement for the aspects of the organization that make it an organization? Have you considered the organizational culture component?

Measure Intangibles

How will you measure commitment, trust, and perceptions? Is there a metric for purpose, community, or respect? What about the building blocks of confidence, things like self-efficacy and self-esteem?

Do they have a metric?

The most successful projects, work groups, and organizations are those who have deep roots in a culture that is emotionally connected to the work at hand. Purpose is a driver and the goal may be just as important as the paycheck.

Metrics are both valuable and important, they can also be a good motivator. If you assume metrics alone are what drives the project, I hope you are including all of the intangibles.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten RespectNavigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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strategy session

Strategy Session Starts With Bad Ideas?

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In the strategy session you recognize your job is to bring forward new good ideas. It’s emphasized that no idea is a bad idea. The rules state that you should leave your ego and judgement at the door. Does this work?

Creating a new strategy or deciding on the next big move has many potential roadblocks and hurdles. Mostly because many of the frequent contributors have already decided. They have a fixed opinion on the path.

Perhaps the rules should be different?

Roadblocks and Hurdles

If ego, self-deception, and judgement are problematic maybe the group shouldn’t be charged first with coming up with new good ideas. Instead maybe they should start a list of bad ideas.

Get all the stuff that won’t work on the flip chart. Everything that has been tried before but failed. Everything that you know won’t work. Go to the trenches, dig deep, get it all on the chart.

Is this negativity? Certainly, it could be, but bad ideas don’t necessarily mean negativity.

Strategy Session

What if you do what you’ve always done? Just go through the normal routine. The leaders give the rules, the leaders break the rules. New ideas aren’t generated and persuasion for a personal agenda is evident.

The session concludes with nods of agreement and everyone goes back to work. Except, the next day at the water cooler everyone is talking about all the really bad ideas you’re going to pursue next.

Perhaps the best way to get ego out of the way and get to a list of truly new good ideas is to start with a list of bad ideas first.

Crazy? Maybe. If you think it’s crazy let’s just go back to checking egos at the door.

One path is a waste of time, the other, constructive.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten RespectNavigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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busy metric

Busy Metric, How Do You Stack Up?

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No one should be surprised that the origin of the word business developed from the word busy. Old English connected it with anxiety and the state of being busy. Do you have a busy metric?

Use of the word business really took off around 1900. It hit a peak around 1920. Then it took a decline only to start to increase again around 1980.

What are your days like, are you busy? What about your team, co-workers, and the person behind the counter at the hotel check-in?

All Business

Whenever I casually talk with people about the work they do, their place of employment, or what is new in their world, they’ll often say, “busy.”

Organizations are too busy to get to the small stuff, too busy to train employees, and too busy to even think about strategy. Is busy just a catch all word that serves as a socially acceptable excuse to skip performance improvement efforts?

In other words, “I’m busy, leave me alone.” or it could also be a one-word-way of saying, “I’m successful, how about you?”

The financial planner wants to help you prepare for the future. The attorney, they want to protect or support you through law. At the tire shop, someone wants to be sure your riding on something safe. Their busy-ness is helping you.

What if you are too busy?

Busy Metric

As a person with a professional services business, it is common for me to talk with people who are too busy. In between their expressions of busy-ness and attempts to persuade me of their success, I also listen for clues about problems. I learn a lot.

It seems to me the biggest problem that they have is that they are too busy. Too busy to enhance the customer experience, too busy to train their workforce, but still they express desperation about shortcomings, pitfalls, and a limited talent pool.

How is your busy metric, too busy?

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten RespectNavigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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easy strategy

Easy Strategy, Jump In To Get Started

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What you accomplish today may be based entirely on a tactical approach. Roll up your sleeves and dig in, soon someone will have a “fire” for you to fight. Is there an easy strategy, or is this it?

Solving Problems

People often take great pride in being the workplace problem solver. Yet at the same time they wonder how they’ll accommodate the strategic needs that their job demands.

In truth, most things are easy to say and harder to do. As we’ve all heard, “Easier said than done.”

Saying it is critical. Chances are far greater that it will get done if it is said first, without being said, good luck.

Congratulations, so now you’ve said it.

Is Everything Urgent?

Getting out of our own way is also easier said than done. We know the urgency to close the sale, the urgency for better quality, and the urgency to ship.

For the workplace leader jumping in has never been more important, but always jumping in is perhaps not the best strategy.

Urgent problems become fewer with more strategic direction.

Easy Strategy

When we develop strategy, it consists of objectives, goals, and a tactical plan to make it all come together. Getting overwhelmed and stuck in the tactical approach isn’t part of an easy strategy.

Stuck doesn’t mean that there is an absence of motion. Motion should never be confused with reaching the objective, unless the objective is motion.

A rocking chair gets a lot of motion but it doesn’t go anywhere. The same is true for your spin class or an amusement park carousel.

Jump Correctly

If you are going in circles every day. When you are tactically putting out workplace fires, fighting the good fight, and being part of the team, you may be getting a lot of good work done, are you really aren’t going anywhere.

Considering all your commitment to ship, the easy strategy feels like you should jump in.

Jumping in often isn’t a strategy at all. It is a lot of motion that accomplishes important stuff, but it seldom solves the real problem.

Avoid confusing process with product.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten RespectNavigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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busy strategy

Do You Leverage Your Busy Strategy?

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Ask someone how things are going and they may simply say, “Busy.” Do you have a busy strategy? Is your intent to do a lot of things, keep the engine turning, and get to the next milestone?

Great Plans

Strategy is not just a schematic on a cocktail napkin. It shouldn’t be about that finely tuned ten-page document that hasn’t been accessed in your digital folder in the past eight months.

While both of those things may matter a great deal, the best plan is only a plan without proper execution.

Your daily tactical approach to accomplishing work will condition what happens next and more importantly how soon. Being busy is typically considered to be a good sign. The thought is, “Yes, I’m busy, and that means I’m making things happen.”

Going Places

Being busy reminds me of a metaphorical expression I once heard. Something like, “Busy is like a rocking chair, lots of movement but you really aren’t going anywhere.” A busy strategy has activity and motion, does it get you anywhere?

If you have a busy strategy you may be knocking things off the to-do list and that certainly may be an accomplishment. Do those things really matter? Your daily habits of do this, do that, and check the box, are they productive?

Most people would quickly agree we are living in a fast-paced, never slow down, World. A thriving service-oriented economy has service-oriented businesses popping up like weeds in grandpa’s vegetable garden.

Are you providing value? Are you leveraging your work?

Busy Strategy

One of the best questions to ask yourself when you are busy is, “Does this effort produce outcomes that can be leveraged to support the long-term plan?”

When the answer is, “Yes.” Then you should be considering how you are making that leverage a reality. Unused leverage doesn’t really have much value.

Building the spreadsheet, attending the meeting, or checking email may get something knocked off the to-do list but it also may be movement that isn’t getting you anywhere.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten RespectNavigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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cheap customer service

What Happens When You Have Cheap Customer Service?

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Your organizational culture will develop from habits, traditions, and symbols. What value are you placing on customer service? Do you have a culture of cheap customer service?

Being Cheaper

Recently I ordered something from eBay. The shipper shipped the product in the actual product box, not the typical brown box that most shippers would use, probably because it was cheaper.

About a month ago, I wrote a note to a vendors contact page, in return I received an automated message. In the long run no one ever returned my inquiry. This feels like they may be using their resources for something else, something that feels more important. Perhaps, they are just too cheap.

Businesses often don’t answer the telephone, return calls, or respond to email messages because it is cheaper to do less. The culture avoids expense, employees are a tool, and their customer service is an afterthought. They do this mostly because it is cheaper.

The big box stores, the superstore on the web, and your local (Dollar General) dollar store don’t have the best price because they are cheap. They often have the best price and good service because they have appropriately scaled. In other cases, their brand sets expectations lower. In either case, this is strategy, not a feeling of necessity.

Sweatshop Mentality

Businesses that try to underprice their competition in the hope that they’ll build momentum have a strategy too. The problem may be that they lack scale and when they lack scale, they are going to use resources to either gain scale or accept less profit.

Accepting less profit sometimes means paying the workforce less, so they then become a sweatshop. The sweatshop model not only lacks customer service but it also typically lacks talent.

A lack of talent is often a condition associated with cheap customer service. Not just because they don’t pay well, but also because it is part of their culture to just not pay. The underlying principle is money out, never equates to money in.

Cheap Vendors

A culture that insists on the concept of, the lowest price wins, probably also seeks the cheapest vendor. Cheap vendors are probably also using the strategy of low price builds volume. Therefore, the cheapest vendor is cutting every corner living just on the edge, somewhere between failure and survival.

What happens next? The vendor provides bad quality or poor service. Now the business who hired them must reject the work or else they face with delivering an inferior product or service. Often they choose to deliver inferior quality because it is cheaper.

What happens when you have cheap customer service? Some may survive, living just on that edge. Others may be bought by an organization that is improving by building scale.

Cheap Customer Service

Cheap customer service isn’t really a strategy. It develops from a strategy and becomes part of your culture.

There is an alternative. Don’t become a culture of cheap.

I think the alternative is much better.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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