Decisions, Decisions series – 6 of 7 – WRAP – Prepare to be Worng (:~))

In the first of the series, I shared my two favorite decision-making frameworks, Cynefin for deciding what type of decision you are making and WRAP to walk through a process to make an optimal decision.  This is the sixth in the series and fourth on WRAP – Prepare to be Wrong.

It is inevitable.  We are going to be wrong. Especially if we are looking to scale our companies or grow ourselves.  You have to try new things, push the envelope, stretch outside of your comfort zone which leads to messing up now and again.  Here are some great ideas from the Heath brothers about preparing to be wrong from their book Decisive.

The mission: To avoid being overconfident about the way our decisions will unfold and, instead, taking the opportunity to plan for both good and bad potential scenarios.

Core Ideas: The most important tools to keep in mind

  • Bookend the future.
  • Run a pre-mortem and pre-parade.
  • Use a safety factor.
  • Create a “realistic job preview.”
  • Set a tripwire.
  • Use “pattern-matching” tripwires.

Here are a few examples from the list above.

Run a pre-mortem and pre-parade. Run a pre-mortem for your decision: It’s a year from now and the decision was a disaster. Why did it fail? (Note that if you’re doing the pre-mortem with colleagues, don’t share answers until everyone has brainstormed on their own.) Then, later, run a pre-parade: It’s a year from now and our decision is a huge success. How did we do it? Make sure to consider these negative and positive bookends separately—that will help you surface more of the relevant issues on each pole.

Set a tripwire. Imagine that your organization is someday used as an example of the “frog who doesn’t jump out of the pot of boiling water” cliché. You got stuck in a slowly changing environment that eventually killed you. If that were true, why would it be? What industry forces do you need to keep an eye on? Can you encourage your team to set the right tripwires?

Use a safety factor. People tend to be overconfident. They think their plans will go more smoothly—and unfold more quickly—than usually happens. Probe to see if they can prepare to be wrong by giving themselves a buffer. Can they build in some extra slack in the schedule? Can they keep some powder dry in their budget in case things go wrong?

Enjoy this great video (7 mins) from Daniel Kahneman illustrating the Planning Fallacy (and pre-mortem) which shows how we can be overconfident even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

You can’t go wrong by spending a few hours thinking about how to make your business better. Join me on May 21st in Boston for my Taking the guesswork out of Growth 4-hour workshop.  Click here to register.

Be Exceptional!

Bill  – Certified Growth Coach
(bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.comwww.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)
MA COMPANIES ONLY – Ask me how your state may help pay for my leadership coaching services.  For MA companies, click here to see if you qualify for 50% (or more) off my workshop and annual fees.

Decisions, Decisions Series (5 of 7) WRAP framework – Attain Some Distance

In the first of the series, I shared my two favorite decision-making frameworks, Cynefin for deciding what type of decision you are making and WRAP to walk through a process to make an optimal decision.  This is the fifth in the series and third on WRAP – Attain Some Distance.  There will be two more to close out the series over the coming weeks.

Attain Some Distance

It is said that ideas are like children, none are so wonderful as our own. Emotional attachment is inevitable in the creation process.  For instance, if you write for a living, you are taught to put a first draft down on paper and then put it away for a while. This allows you to look at what you wrote with fresh eyes putting the emotional attachment far enough in the past. This typically helps to improve the end product.  The same can be said about decision making.  It is often important to put some time between you and the final decision to let the initial emotions fade away. 

In their book, Decisive, the Heath brothers provide us with some tips and tricks to find ways to do this in order to optimize our key decisions.

The mission: To resist the disrupting influence of short-term emotion and ensure that you make a decision based on your core priorities

Core Ideas: The most important tools to keep in mind

  • If you’re agonizing, gather more options or information.
  • Try 10/10/10.
  • Fight the “status quo bias” (mere exposure + loss aversion).
  • Shift perspectives to gain distance.
  • Identify and enshrine your core priorities.
  • Go on the offensive against lesser priorities.

Here is a little more detail on my favorites.  Please download the workbook for more information.

Try 10/10/10. Attain some distance by talking through a 10/10/10 analysis with a friend. This will force you to label the short-term and long- term implications of your decisions, with the benefit of an outsider’s perspective on your decision. (Also, it can often be clarifying just to hear how your logic sounds when it comes out of your mouth …).

10/10/10 is the process of thinking through how you might feel about this decision in 10 days, 10 months and 10 years.  What impact might it have over those timeframes?

Identify and enshrine your core priorities. Karen Douglas, a business consultant who owns her own firm, found herself with an overly packed calendar so she adopted a rule to assess new opportunities: “If it’s not a ‘Hell yes!”, it’s a ‘No.’” Is there a rule that would remind you of your priorities? (A person who moved to a new town without a good social network might adopt the exact opposite rule: “If it’s not a ‘Hell no!’, it’s a ‘Yes.’”)

Do you have Core Values and Priorities?  Do you use them every day to help make decisions?  Are your Priorities SMART?  (I like to add an additional A re: Authority – Do you have the authority to carry out this priority?)

Identify and enshrine your core priorities. Do a forensics analysis of your calendar. What would the outside investigator conclude about your core priorities? If you don’t think you’d be satisfied with the forensic analysis, ask yourself: Which activities can I stop doing to free up more time for what’s important?

These last two are ones I often use with clients especially when it comes to Core Purpose and BHAG discussions for the first of the two.  Reviewing your calendaring can be a sobering event.  There are those that think you can tell what is truly important to a person by analyzing his/her calendar and credit card statements.  Actions speak louder that words.  Below is an exchange between father and son that illustrates this beautifully.

SON: “Daddy, may I ask you a question?”
DAD: “Yeah sure, what is it?”
SON: “Daddy, how much do you make an hour?”
DAD: “That’s really none of your business. Why do you ask?”
SON: “I just want to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?”
DAD: “If you must know, I make $100 an hour.”
SON: “Oh. (With his head down).
SON: “Daddy, can I please borrow $50?”
DAD: “REALLY?! If you’re asking to borrow money for some silly toy or game, you can just march yourself straight to your room to think about why you’re being so selfish. I work hard everyday to provide for this family, and this is the thanks I get?”


The little boy went quietly to his room and shut the door. So, the dad went to his son’s door and opened it.

DAD: “Are you asleep, son?”
SON: “No daddy, I’m awake”.
DAD: “I’ve been thinking, and maybe I was too hard on you earlier. It’s been a long day and I took out my aggravation on you. Here’s the $50 you asked for.” The little boy sat straight up, smiling.
SON: “Oh, thank you daddy!” Son pulls crumbled bills from pillow
DAD: “Why do you want more money if you already have some?”
SON: “Because I didn’t have enough, but now I do. Daddy, I have $100 now. Can I buy an hour of your time? Please come home early tomorrow. I would like to have dinner with you.”

This could have been a story about a team member or a treasured business partner or any number of people whose relationship you value but have prioritized, many times unwittingly through inaction, as less important. It also could have been a task or initiative you are not getting to because the minutia of the day or the minute becomes the priority instead.

Decisions we make have, minimally, one other side.  By choosing to do something, we are also choosing to not do other things by default. By attaining some distance, we can better understand the ripples – short term and long term – of this decision.

Next post is the final in the WRAP framework – Prepare to be Wrong.  This should be fun as we all LOVE being wrong.

Be Exceptional!

Bill  – Certified Growth Coach
(bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.comwww.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)

MA COMPANIES ONLY – Ask me how your state may help pay for my leadership coaching services.  For MA companies, click here to see if you qualify for 50% (or more) off my fees.

Decisions, Decisions series (4 of 7) – WRAP – Reality test assumptions

In the first of the series, I shared my two favorite decision-making frameworks, Cynefin for deciding what type of decision you are making and WRAP to walk through a process to make an optimal decision.  This is the fourth in the series and second on WRAP – Reality Test your Assumptions.

To reality test our assumptions, we must assess our options.  One key impediment to seeing clearly is what neuroscience calls confirmation bias.  This bias leads us to collect skewed, self-serving information. To combat this bias, we can ask disconfirming questions (e.g., What problems does our product/service have? or, What holes do we have in our strategy? or What is our biggest barrier to success?). We can spark constructive disagreement and, whenever appropriate, we should “ooch” – conduct small experiments to teach us more. Why predict when you can know?

To support the concepts around a reality test, the following content is from the book, Decisive.

REALITY-TEST YOUR ASSUMPTIONS

expectations-vs-reality-10

The mission: To fight the confirmation bias and ensure that, when you are assessing your options, you are gathering information that you can trust.

Core Ideas: The most important tools to keep in mind

  • Fight the confirmation bias.
  • Spark constructive disagreement.
  • Ask disconfirming questions.
  • Consider the opposite.
  • Make a deliberate mistake.
  • Zoom out: Respect the base rates.
  • Zoom in: Take a close-up.
  • Ooch.

Here are three of the aforementioned in a little more detail.

Ask disconfirming questions. When you ask for advice on your decisions, don’t just ask people “What do you think?” or “Do you like my idea?” Ask disconfirming questions: “What’s the biggest obstacle you see to what I’m trying to do?” “If I failed, why do you think it would be?”. The key is to try to prove the decision wrong. If you are unable to, you may be onto something and you avoid confirmation bias where we see what we want to see and disregard the rest.

Spark constructive disagreement. Can you find someone you trust who will disagree with you? In her study of Silicon Valley firms, Kathy Eisenhardt found that the CEOs who made the quickest, most effective strategic decisions had a senior counselor. The counselor was usually someone who knew the industry well but didn’t have a personal agenda, which meant they could provide unvarnished, trustworthy guidance.

Ooch. Can you get yourself to “ooch” by lowering the barriers? Imagine that you could take a half-day to do something to assess one of your options. (Not talk about it, not think about it, not agonize about it – do something about it.) What could you do? If you had $100 to spend to aid your assessment, how would you spend it?  This lines up with Jim Collins’ approach of shooting bullets first and then cannonballs.  Another example is to offer your time for free to a company that you think you want to work for.

The key is to fight over confidence or hubris when making critical decisions.  We are human and are all susceptible to cognitive biases such as confirmation bias, availability bias, status quo bias among many others.  Research proves that even if you are aware of these biases you still commit them!  This is because the brain is always looking for shortcuts to save energy and it does so without our conscious awareness.

Do a reality check every now and again will help you to build the muscles to avoid or mitigate making poorly thought out decisions.

Next up, Attain some distance…

Be Exceptional!

Bill  – Certified Growth Coach
(bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.comwww.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)
MA COMPANIES ONLY – Ask me how your state may help pay for my leadership coaching services.  For MA companies, click here to see if you qualify for 50% (or more) off my fees.

Decisions, Decisions Series (3 of 7) – WRAP Framework – Widen Your Options

widen (funny)

So far, we have looked at two phases of decision-making illustrated by two decision-making frameworks:

  1. Cynefin framework – Use to decide the type of decision; Simple, Complicated, Complex, Chaotic
  2. WRAP – Use to optimize the decision process.
    • Widen your options
    • Reality test your assumptions
    • Attain distance BEFORE deciding
    • Prepare to be wrong

This post is the second related to the WRAP framework – “W” – Widen Your Options.  Here are the Mission and Core Ideas that were taken from the Decisive workbook from the Heath brothers.

Mission: To break out of a narrow frame and expand the set of options you consider

Core Ideas: The most important tools to keep in mind

  • Expand your options.
  • Consider the opportunity cost.
  • Run the “vanishing options test.”
  • Multitrack – think AND not OR.
  • Toggle between the promotion and prevention mindsets.
  • Find someone who has solved your problem.
  • Try “laddering.”

Below, I offer a bit more depth on a three of these.

widen your optionsThe Heath Brothers share a number of approaches to widen your options, here are a few you can try:

  1. If you are not sure if you have considered all the viable options, you can run the “Vanishing Options” test. That is, assume the option you are currently considering suddenly is no longer viable, ask yourself what you would do instead.  The optimal way to do this with your team is to have each of them write one to two alternatives down and then share individually.  I like to have folks put each idea on a stickie, stick them to a surface, group them by category, name the category and then discuss each grouping.
  2. Find someone else who has solved your problem.  In most cases, someone with the circle of contacts you and your team have access to have run into this problem before.  Also, there may be an analogous problem you have already solved in the past that you can apply here. I recommend the same brainstorming process as above.  You may be surprised what you finally come up with.
  3. Lastly, consider the opportunity cost. People don’t naturally consider their opportunity costs. Ask them, “What’s the next best use of the resources you’re talking about spending?” Force them to push their spotlights around by asking about different domains: For instance, if they’re waffling about whether to spend time and resources on a specific project, ask what other ways they could spend the time and/or money if this upcoming project was not an option.  Once you have come up with a few alternatives, you can determine which of these options is best.

These are just a few ways to widen your options.  As humans our ideas are like children – none are so wonderful as our own.  That means that we can get irrationally attached to our own ideas that can blind us from considering other options. Confirmation bias is an ever-present danger – we all do it. Sometimes we argue, unwittingly, to defend our ideas versus making sure we explore all viable options to reach our team goals.

Using the WRAP framework is a way to increase your chances of making an optimal decision.  Reality check your options coming next in the series.

Here is a great decision!  Set up a 15-minute conversation to talk about how you can implement a proven system to take the guesswork out of growth (Click here to see a sample one page strategic plan).

Be Exceptional!

Bill  – Certified Premium Scaling Up/Gravitas Impact Coach
(bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.comwww.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)

For MA companies ONLY, as an approved Training and Development provider, Catalyst Growth Advisors can offer you 50% off program fees.  Click here to see if you qualify.

What is the WRAP decision framework (Decision series – 2 of 7)

Now that we have reviewed the Cynefin framework to help us think about what kind of decision we are making to help set proper expectations as to the risks and the steps, please find below a summary of each step in the WRAP decision framework taken from Decisive authored by Dan and Chip Heath to help us with the process of making the decision.

charts-hate-decisions-wait

WIDEN YOUR OPTIONS

Mission: To break out of a narrow frame and expand the set of options you consider

Core Ideas: The most important tools to keep in mind

  • Expand your options.
  • Consider the opportunity cost.
  • Run the “vanishing options test.”
  • Multitrack – think AND not OR.
  • Toggle between the promotion and prevention mindsets.
  • Find someone who has solved your problem.
  • Try “laddering.”

widen your options

REALITY-TEST YOUR ASSUMPTIONS

The mission: To fight the confirmation bias and ensure that, when you are assessing your options, you are gathering information that you can trust.

Core Ideas: The most important tools to keep in mind

  • Fight the confirmation bias.
  • Spark constructive disagreement.
  • Ask disconfirming questions.
  • Consider the opposite.
  • Make a deliberate mistake.
  • Zoom out: Respect the base rates.
  • Zoom in: Take a close-up.
  • Ooch: a combination of “scoot” and “inch”. Apparently, it’s a thing.

ATTAIN SOME DISTANCE BEFORE DECIDING

The mission: To resist the disrupting influence of short-term emotion and ensure that you make a decision based on your core priorities

Core Ideas: The most important tools to keep in mind

  • If you’re agonizing, gather more options or information.
  • Try 10/10/10.
  • Fight the “status quo bias” (mere exposure + loss aversion).
  • Shift perspectives to gain distance.
  • Identify and enshrine your core priorities.
  • Go on the offensive against lesser priorities.

PREPARE TO BE WRONG

The mission: To avoid being overconfident about the way our decisions will unfold and, instead, taking the opportunity to plan for both good and bad potential scenarios.

Core Ideas: The most important tools to keep in mind

  • Bookend the future.
  • Run a premortem and preparade.
  • Use a safety factor.
  • Create a “realistic job preview.”
  • Set a tripwire.
  • Use “pattern-matching” tripwires.

Next week, I will start with the first of four posts to go into more depth into some of the tools mentioned, provide some examples and suggestions on how to use each part of the WRAP decision framework.  I will start with Widen Your Options.

Set up a 15-minute conversation to talk about how you can implement a proven system to take the guesswork out of growth (Click here to see a sample one page strategic plan).

Be Exceptional!

Bill  – Certified Premium Scaling Up/Gravitas Impact Coach
(bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.comwww.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)

For MA companies ONLY, as an approved Training and Development provider, Catalyst Growth Advisors can offer you 50% off program fees.  Click here to see if you qualify.

“Decisions, Decisions” Series – 2 Decision Frameworks (1 of 7)

decisionLeaders have to make a lot of decisions (sometimes too many). Over the next couple of months, I am going to share my two favorite decision-making frameworks – Cynefin (pronounced “kin-ev-in”) from Dave Snowden and WRAP from the Heath Brothers (not the candy guys).

What I have come to believe is that there are three main parts to decision making:

  1. What kind of decision situation are we in? – Simple, Complicated, Complex or Chaotic? (Cynefin)
  2. How do we make the best possible decision considering all of the available information? (WRAP)
  3. How do we know when a decision is complete?

Here is a picture of the Cynefin Framework (Part 1 of 3) which I will talk about in this post:

cynefin-model

Snowden argues that many leaders forget the first step of decision making which is to first figure out what kind of decision you are making.

Let’s start with Simple (lower right, sometimes referred to as Obvious) – This means that there are rules in place, the situation is stable, and the relationship between cause and effect is clear: if you do X, expect Y.

The advice (per the above picture) in such a situation is to establish the facts (“sense”), categorize the facts, then respond by following the rule or applying best practice. Loan-payment processing is a typical example. An employee identifies the problem (for example, a borrower has paid less than required), categorizes it (reviews the loan documents), and responds (follows the terms of the loan).

Next is Complicated. It is similar to Simple except that the relationship between cause and effect is less cut and dried. Knowledge, experience or process may not be found in your company or group.  You must Sense, Analyze and then Respond.   That is, you have to do some investigation and pursue inquiry before you move ahead.

For example, recently, one of my clients decided they needed to decide to move or not as they were running out of space and their lease term was ending (Sense).  It was important for them to be fair to all while maintaining their culture and employee experience to the best of their ability.  I recommended that they look to other companies in their area that had grown and moved who could share their experience and process as a way to help them feel more confident in the decision and the entire moving process and consider multiple options based upon some key criteria (Analyze).  They decided to move as it was the best available option for their longer-term needs (Respond).

The third is Complex – cause and effect can only be deduced in retrospect, and there are no right answers at the outset. This is often the most difficult to navigate and execute as you must Probe, Sense and then Respond.  Being open-minded, asking probing questions and curiosity will serve you well.

The key here is to create a series of “safe to fail” experiments where the results can guide you to the best possible answer (Probe).  I believe that a good example here is making a pricing decision. There are many factors involved. The two most difficult are to determine the true value your customers perceive in your solution and determining if your competitors have done a good job in pricing alternative offerings (usually they have not).  Typically, your best next step is to speak to customers to determine how they value your offering and then conduct a series of experiments to see how your customers react to the price changes (Probe).  The next step is to review the resultant information (Sense) and then make the best determination as to if or how much to modify your price (Respond).

Lastly, is Chaotic – most businesses, thankfully, do not have to deal with this situation.  The key here is to make a decision (Act) quickly that you think best suits the situation (Sense) and then make changes based on the result(s) (Respond).

The best and most popular example I know of to illustrate how important going through this process comes from the Kennedy administration early in his US Presidency.  When comparing the different decision processes he went through on the Bay of Pigs versus the Cuban Missile Crisis, one can see a startling change in the process he used to make a crucial decision. Here is a great summary article that goes into some detail on the differences.

Whether you use Snowden’s framework or some other process, I believe it is important to take the time to think about the type of decision you are making BEFORE you begin the process to make the best possible decision.

Please click here to for a video recorded by Dave Snowden about the Cynefin framework.

Next time, I will review the WRAP framework and begin to go into each of the four steps – one at a time.

  1. Widen your options
  2. Reality test your assumptions
  3. Attain some distance before deciding
  4. Prepare to be wrong

The last part of the three will be an updated version of an old post about Decision Making. This will be coming later in the year as Part 7.

Here is a great decision! Set up a 15-minute conversation to talk about how you can implement a proven system to take the guesswork out of growth (Click here to see a sample one page strategic plan).

Be Exceptional!

Bill  – Certified Premium Scaling Up/Gravitas Impact Coach
(bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.comwww.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)

For MA companies ONLY, as an approved Training and Development provider, Catalyst Growth Advisors can offer you 50% off program fees.  Click here to see if you qualify.

How to dramatically increase employee engagement with one question

enagagement (funny)

For those who have team members reporting to them, ask yourself this simple question every day.

What can I do today to make the employee experience better than it was yesterday?

Make a plaque, create a screensaver with this question, or just put a stickie where you can see it.  Find a way to keep this top of mind every day.  When your team knows that you sincerely care about them, are thinking of them and how to improve their day, their lives, their jobs, you should see a marked improvement in productivity, creativity, and engagement.  Plus it feels great to help others!


Here is a Forbes article (3 min read) for those of you, like me, who appreciate a few suggestions on how to help improve the employee experience.

Enjoy!
Set up a 15-minute conversation to talk about how you can implement a proven system to take the guesswork out of growth (Click here to see a sample one page strategic plan).

Be Exceptional!

Bill  – Certified Premium Scaling Up/Gravitas Impact Coach
(bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.comwww.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)

For MA companies ONLY, as an approved Training and Development provider, Catalyst Growth Advisors can offer you 50% off program fees.  Click here to see if you qualify.

Does running your business sometimes feel like this?

This will be my last post of 2018.  Happy New Year to everyone!  I thought I would end the year on a humorous note. Enjoy!

Have you ever had one of these days?

The optimal way to avoid this tragic business metaphor is to build your company as if you are going to get, at any moment, an offer to sell that you cannot refuse.  Building for exit value optimization is a great way to build a highly valuable business regardless of your interest in selling it someday.  Here is a pretty comprehensive list of areas to address in priority order (at least the top four in bold) to optimize exit value and, by default, build a healthy and thriving organization.

Increased exit value drivers:

  1. Reduce the risk for the buyer
    • The entrepreneur/CEO/Owner is redundant in the business
    • Powerful, healthy Management Team/Bench for key positions
  2. “Rembrandts in the attic” – Value beyond the financial returns – Value over discounted cash value
  3. Healthy culture/High engagement organization
  4. Revenue predictability and quality over several years, consistent growth in Revenue, Profit and Cash
  5. Show significant growth potential in current, adjacent and/or new markets
  6. Bring multiple buyers to the table
  7. Documented Systems
  8. Customer diversification
    • Have no one customer that is more than 10% of total revenue/profit
  9. Protect IP
  10. Dashboards and KPI visibility
  11. Make books squeaky clean – Taxes, receivables, short and long-term debt, etc.
  12. Clean records/good data
  13. Clean up facilities if applicable
  14. HR compliance
  15. Tighten up ALL Agreements
    • Solid employee agreements,
    • Solid vendor/supplier/technology/customer agreements,
    • Partner legal agreement,
    • Real Estate agreements, etc.
  16. Address any pending/active lawsuits, etc.

If these things (and possibly others based on your industry, etc.) are not in place, a savvy buyer will chip away at the original offer and may cause you to inadvertently sell at a much lower price than you would like.

Please see the two-minute video below for an overview of how to systematically and deliberately address many of these issues.

Set up a 15-minute conversation to talk about how you can optimize your exit value and take the guesswork out of growth (Click here to see a sample one page strategic plan).

Be Exceptional!

Bill  – Certified Premium Scaling Up/Gravitas Impact Coach
(bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.comwww.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)

For MA companies ONLY, as an approved Training and Development provider, Catalyst Growth Advisors can offer you 50% off program fees.  Click here to see if you qualify.

Four ways to increase meeting productivity

Portrait Of Sad Business TeamHow often are you or others distracted in meetings?

What % of your meetings do you consider wasted time? Studies show that executives feel that between 30-50% of meeting time is unproductive.

Here are a few simple things you can do to increase focused attention and meeting productivity (from Mind of a Leader):

  1. Bring your body and your mind – At the beginning of each meeting, invite everyone to join in one minute of silence before getting started. Although for some people a moment of silence can seem strange, in our experience, it can become quickly adopted as people appreciate the benefits of having a moment to settle in. This simple one minute can be key to helping everyone mentally arrive—versus just being there physically—in the meeting with a little more focus and presence.  I have also used simple and fun ice breakers to accomplish the same.
  2. Eliminate distraction – During the meeting, have a collective agreement that phones and laptops are off or put away unless specifically required. If even one person is busy writing emails, texting, or reading tMeeting humorhe news during a meeting, it has a negative impact on the collective focus.  Research shows that just having your phone out on the table in front of you drops your IQ by 10 points. Here are some tips to reduce your phone distraction.
  3. Focus and Clarity – It is also important that meeting objectives are clear and that someone is leading the meeting and ensuring everyone sticks to the agenda. This helps everyone stay more on task and engaged. I have provided a link below to Meetings with Purpose – Daily, Weekly, Monthly – sample agendas.
  4. End early – Toward the end of the meeting, establish a collective discipline of ending five minutes before the scheduled end time—often at the top or the bottom of the hour. These five minutes enable everyone to have time to transition mindfully to their next meeting.  You can also use part of this time to have everyone provide a one-word or one-phrase close to the meeting to guide you toward improving future meetings.

I have also provided a link (under Business Resources, Execution #3)  to daily, weekly and monthly “Meetings with Purpose” sample agendas.

Be Exceptional!

Bill  – Certified Premium Scaling Up/Gravitas Impact Coach
(bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.comwww.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)

* Ask me how MA (and other states) may help pay for my leadership coaching services.  For MA companies, as an approved Training and Development provider, Catalyst Growth Advisors can offer you 50% off program fees.  Click here to see if you qualify

Growth IQ: Get Smarter About the Choices that Will Make or Break Your Business

“In a Bain & Company study, 85 percent of the executives surveyed, and a full 94 percent of those running companies with more than $5 billion in revenue, said that internal, not external, obstacles keep their companies from growing profitably.” – Tiffani Bova, Growth IQ

According to Michael Treacy, business researcher, and author, there are 5 areas of your business to look for growth in his HBR article.  They are:

  1. Retain Your Customer Base – Consistently delight your customers so they do not leave
  2. Gain Market Share – Steal share from competitors
  3. Exploit Market Shifts – As markets change, being the first with a viable solution wins
  4. Penetrate Adjacent Markets – Identify markets where your core competencies and/or solutions can be leveraged
  5. Develop New Lines of Business – Acquire reasonably priced market leaders

I recommend that you ask your Operations team to break down your revenue by these five areas going back 2-3 years.  Then craft a 2019 plan to optimally grow revenue.

According to Tiffany Bova’s book, Growth IQ, there are 10 different ways that companies can grow their business.  Many of the companies in her research employ multiple items from the list below.

THE TEN GROWTH PATHS

  1. CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE: Inspire additional purchases and advocacy
  2. CUSTOMER BASE PENETRATION: Sell more existing products to existing customers
  3. MARKET ACCELERATION: Expand into new markets with existing products
  4. PRODUCT EXPANSION: Sell new products to existing markets
  5. CUSTOMER AND PRODUCT DIVERSIFICATION: Sell new products to new customers
  6. OPTIMIZE SALES: Streamline sales efforts to increase productivity
  7. CHURN (MINIMIZE DEFECTION): Retain more customers
  8. PARTNERSHIPS: Leverage third-party alliances, channels, and ecosystems (Sales, Go-to-Market)
  9. CO-OPETITION: Cooperate with market or industry competitor (Product Development, IP Sharing)
  10. UNCONVENTIONAL STRATEGIES: Disrupt current thinking
Here is an example from the book:
The Honest Company has used a number of growth paths in combination to achieve its $1 billion valuation. With its initial focus on diapers, infant formulas, and household cleaning products, The Honest Company was quick to maximize sales by offering more of its existing products to its existing customers via a subscription service (Customer Base Penetration). The company launched (Product Expansion) the recurring $79.99-per-month subscription model for its diapers and wipes to improve both the customer experience and revenue predictability, based on its keen understanding of its customer base and what would appeal to them—it didn’t want new parents to run out of diapers and need to make a midnight run to the store any longer. The Honest Company also broke with industry tradition by eschewing traditional marketing such as advertising and brick-and-mortar retail. Instead, it focused upon direct-to-consumer (D2C) online sales and an image of purity and goodwill, not least in making major donations to charities right from the start (Unconventional Strategies). Hence why its e-commerce roots continue to run so deep even today.
My key takeaway from Treacy’s and Bova’s research is that you should be clear on where your existing and past growth/decline is coming from (Treacy) and then choose the appropriate combination of growth paths based upon market and customer context to move forward (Bova).  This must be done at least once/year consistently and fit into your overall company strategy. (Flynn).

Which combination of the aforementioned growth strategies will separate you from viable alternatives for your best customers?  To paraphrase Michael Porter, the purported father of modern business strategy, A winning strategy is about choosing a unique and valuable position rooted in systems of activities delivering what your core customer most wants and values.

Please see a previous post with a straightforward exercise to get you started. Please set up a 15-minute conversation with me if you are interested in learning how you can do this for yourself or with a coach.

Be Exceptional!

Bill  – Certified Premium Scaling Up/Gravitas Impact Coach
(bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.comwww.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)

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