Archive for the ‘Strategic Planning’ Category

Community Outreach Best Practices

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Supporting the local community can be expensive. Even large organizations have to be careful about how and where they lend their time – and money. Is there value – beyond personal satisfaction – in supporting local events and activities? Which ones? How can you say “no” graciously to the many requests that come your way? (more…)

What’s in a SWOT? Exploring an Important Input to the Strategic Planning Process

Monday, February 9th, 2015

A SWOT analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats – is a critical element of a strategic plan, if done correctly. Far from being a “silly exercise” (and I’ll admit in the early days of my career I sometimes felt that it was…) the SWOT is an important input that leads to the development of strategies. It can be a determinant of whether or not you will be able to successfully achieve your goals and objectives. But, it has to be done correctly to deliver that value. (more…)

From Brand Awareness to Purchase: The Consumer Purchase Funnel Process

Friday, December 26th, 2014

How many times throughout the week do you see a company logo slapped onto a billboard, incorporated into the name of a sporting event, or even plastered on the back of a boxer? These are classic examples of brand awareness strategy. With brand awareness, companies are simply making the consumer aware that they exist—that’s about it.

While brand awareness is generally of little use on its own, it’s an important first step in a process known in marketing as the purchase funnel. (more…)

5 Competitive Forces That Should Be Shaping Your Strategy

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Every MBA student or undergraduate in an introductory business strategy course has encountered Porter’s Five Forces. The concept, outlined by Harvard economist and professor Michael E. Porter in 1979, has been a foundation of business strategy in both academia and the business world for decades.

Professor Porter revisited the topic in a recent article in Harvard Business Review, appropriately titled “The Five Competitive Forces that Shape Strategy.”

For those unfamiliar with the five forces, they are: (more…)

Do You Know Who Your Customers Are? You May Be Surprised!

Monday, August 11th, 2014

I worked in a healthcare organization for about 10 years from 1996-2007. Back at that time the transition between referring to patients as “customers” was just emerging and it was fairly controversial. Marketing and administration favored the approach and logically it seemed to make some sense. But I can recall the debates, conflicts and consternation from clinical staff — physicians and nurses — about the use of this terminology.

At the time, I was firmly on the side of using the term “customer.” After all, I had come from the marketing world with a background in the investor-owned utility industry and a private educational firm, in addition to experience growing up in a family-owned business, so the concept of “customer” was one I firmly identified with.

In hindsight, though, (more…)

Why Your Strategy May Not Be Working: It May Be Just a Plan

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

I’m a strong proponent of the value of strategic planning but I’m also glad to acknowledge that the vast majority of strategic plans rarely drive real action or measurable results. The reasons why are numerous, but a recent article I read in Harvard Business Review made a great point about strategy.

In The Big Lie of Strategic Planning, Roger L. Martin, makes the point that, inevitably, whenever the word “strategy” is used, it’s often in conjunction with the word “plan” — those two words then become, somehow, inevitably–and inaccurately–intertwined.  (more…)

De-teching From Time to Time Can Fuel Innovation

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

A few weekends ago, for one glorious afternoon, I turned off all of my tech devices, pulled out a pile of Harvard Business Review magazines (the hard copy kind) and, with nothing but a legal pad and pen in hand, set out to engage in some thinking time. I sat on  my deck, without even my Bose SoundLink, and just lost myself in learning. I literally  (more…)

Breaking Through the B.S. (Brainstorming) – Some Tips for Better Results

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Brainstorming is one of those activities that, on the surface, seems pretty simple. In reality, though, effectively using this technique can be challenging, Why? Because we all have a tendency to want to discuss/debate and comment on the brainstorming comments of others — and even our own!The key for an effective brainstorming session is to ensure that a wide range of “top of mind” inputs can be gathered — not to dissect and discuss each point that comes up.

We work with organizations on strategic planning activities regularly. One of the keys to a successful planning effort is ensuring that all inputs are gathered and that good ideas/inputs are not “shot down” or dismissed as part of the brainstorming process.

A couple of things that we have done to help ensure that the brainstorming process works as it should: (more…)

Yes! You DO Have Competitors!

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Every once in a while, we work with a client who believes that they do not have any competition–they are unique or their product is so exceptional that there is just nothing that competes. Those client conversations are always just a little bit awkward because, in reality, every organization of any size has competition of one form or another. Even an organization that is introducing a truly unique and innovative new product will deal with “indirect competition” (literally, “any other alternative” to what they have to offer). Acknowledging competition can be tough, but it’s a critical step in determining how to best “position” and sell what it is that you have to offer.

One way to think about this is to ask yourself the question: (more…)

Making Strategic Planning Work

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Why do strategic planning efforts so often fail? It’s a question I ponder a lot and one that I’m asked frequently by clients and business colleagues. I work with companies of all sizes and in a variety of industries on strategic planning efforts. Previously as a marketing manager/director of corporate communications in the education, energy and healthcare industries I was involved in a range of strategic planning activities from business planning to the development of marketing plans and project-specific plans.

Most of these plans are developed, reviewed, revised–and, sadly, forgotten. Here are some of the key factors that I believe contribute to the successful execution of a strategic plan — whether it’s a business plan, a marketing plan, or a project plan. The process is the same, and so are the potential pitfalls.

We recommend these best practice steps: (more…)