This Covid-crisis has played havoc with all our lives and, even though you are probably sick of hearing people say this, nothing’s going to be the same again.
And that means we’ll all have to re-think our businesses.
I know a lot of executive teams are on this right now, but I talk to a lot of senior people and I also know that there are a lot out there who are just poleaxed by the speed of change right now and struggling either to know where to start or put what they have to do into some kind of meaningful order.
So I thought I’d see if I can help.
What I’m going to do now is run through a check-list of things you need to do in an order that makes sense. I can’t give it to you in too much detail. This is more of a quick guide, because, if you are watching this it probably means you haven’t started this process yet and you are close to running out of time. But if you’re running a business already all you probably need is a rough guide to set you off and you’ll be OK.
Of course, if you have any questions or need extra help you probably know where to find me, so look me up. I’ll be happy to help where I can.
So, let’s start.
The first thing you need to do is focus on understanding your stakeholders.
You’ll have heard me say before that every business has six broad stakeholder segments. These are:
- … and, of course, employees
… and you need to include them all in this analysis, because they are interdependent.
To start of you need to create a profile for each. I expect most of you have already done this in the past, but it’s worth taking a fresh look.
Take customers for example. This is a very broad category and you’ll need to break it down into more meaningful sub-sets to be able to work with it. The number of sub-sets you end up with is entirely dependent on your business, and what you offer. There are no fixed rules.
What I suggest is you get together with a representative group of your own people to brainstorm your segments.
I like to end up with a description of the typical person in each group covering things like their household make-up, where they live, the car they drive, where they buy … you know the kind of thing.
Then what I do is illustrate this. Sometimes I get an artist to draw up caricatures representing each profile, but you can create a kind of mood board with pictures of people and the various aspects of their lives. This will give your something to keep you focussed. Stick them around the room at your next session and refer to them throughout.
If you are a BtoB business don’t reject this stage as not relevant to you. It applies as much to you as it does a consumer organisation. It’s just that your segments will be composed differently.
What you need to do next is consider what has changed in their lives as a result of the Covid-crisis. Dig deep and brainstorm. Speculate, guess and discuss how they might be feeling and what they are doing as a result.
You can add to your own experience by searching the internet for articles that explore the subject
What you are trying to do here is come up with a list of needs they each have post-Covid.
Next consider how what you offer already meet those needs and give yourself marks out of ten in each case.
This might be easier for you in the case of customers because most businesses are more used to prioritising the customer perspective. I’m not going to get into this right now, but just don’t forget there are six stakeholder groups and you are responsible for satisfying all their needs.
Then take a look at the marketplace from your targets’ perspective and ask yourself what alternatives are being offered by other sources that might suit them better.
Take a look at the companies who are offering these alternatives and consider what they may be doing in meetings like these you are having right now, to up their game. You can be sure they won’t be standing still!
At this point in the process you have covered two fundamental components of strategy development:
Stakeholder (including customer) needs
So, what are you going to do about it?
Now the fun really starts!
What you want now is a no-holds-barred brainstorming session. The rules of engagement are, there are no rules, no wrong answers or “silly” ideas. Everything counts and should be tabled for discussion.
I’m sure you’ll have all done this kind of thing before, so you’ll know it’s important that everyone taking part understands nobody is going to point a finger or laugh at them because they come up with a stupid idea. Sometimes the ideas that sound the most unrealistic at first hearing end up being the best ideas of the day.
You want to come out of this session with a list of initiatives that you can tackle that’ll bring you close to delivering solutions that your stakeholders are looking for.
Each of these is probably a project in itself.
If your efforts so far have been fruitful you’ll have many more potential projects than you can handle at one time so you’ll need to prioritise. My clients often end up with upward of twenty projects and we usually choose to start with the low-hanging fruit. It’s good to get a few quick wins under your belt and start reaping the rewards of your new strategy as early as possible.
This process will probably reveal gaps in your resources. After all, if you have geared up to produce a specific product or service it makes sense, if you switch to producing something different, you’ll need things you may not have to hand.
In the case of expertise, in the development stage you can bring in sub-contractors or consultants to fill the gaps temporarily.
The question you have to answer here is “what will it cost or involve to fill these gaps and will that be viable given the return you can expect from sales?
This will give you a short-list of projects that it’s at least worth kicking off. Some of these might be just improvement to existing processes or products, others might be radical departures from what has become “normal” for you.
Remember when you are planning your project that involves a new product or service, or a new variant, you need to include in your costs those associated with launching it.
Each of these projects needs to have a time-scale and that should be divided into stages in the overall process. You need to identify where you need to be at each stage — what would constitute a success. As you reach each of these thresholds you should assess the project and if it is looking less promising or even not worthy it abandon it.
It’s important to monitor all your projects consistently, so set deadlines for each stage and hold a review meeting to go through the assessment criteria each time. I commonly hold reviews every month, but the pace of change is fast in the digital economy and it’s not unusual to review progress every week.
You don’t need to be in the office to do this. With platforms like TEAMS or Zoon remote team, working is available to everyone. In some cases its even an asset to work this way. If you haven’t tried it you definitely should — for one thing it’s the future of working so you need to get involved.
What this approach should do is deliver a stream of initiatives, but even if none of the projects you initially ear-mark work out you will at least have got into the habit of innovating. This in itself is progress. You just need to keep it up, so build it into your way of operating.
Remember, the ability to constantly innovate is what makes digital businesses so successful, so once you have the habit, hang on to it.
If you would like to drill a little deeper into Brand-Led Business or launch your own Brand-Led Business Transformation there is a load of information at thefulleffect.com and I have a suite of assets available. Just drop me a line and I’ll send you the links.
Now you know where to find me all that is left to say is “good luck”.
I hope you’ll catch some of my other articles and videos.
May 26, 2020