There is a strong appeal to becoming a software company, but is it really the right answer for your business? As these two examples show, the answer is far from clear.
We recall a rather depressing conversation with the CEO of a medium-sized company several years ago. We were trying to stress the importance of articulating a strategic agenda when he effectively shut down the conversation by asserting, “we have a three-pronged strategy: operational efficiency, organic growth and acquisitions. People need to stop asking questions and… Continue reading Your Organization is Hungry for a Strategy
Baseball broadcasting legend Vincent Edward ‘Vin’ Scully passed away last week at the age of 94. He was the voice of the Dodgers for an incredible 67 seasons, from 1950 to 2016. The awards and accolades that Scully received during his career are too numerous to mention. As one example, he received the Ford Frick Award for broadcasting excellence from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, and then went on to work for 34 more years!
One of the benefits of having coached project teams through our needs-based segmentation process hundreds of times across dozens of industries is that we can spot patterns that are difficult to identify for even the seasoned industry practitioner who has typically developed a limited number of segmentation schemes, probably in just one or two industries. One pattern that we often see is a natural clustering of customers based on size and complexity – with large customers demanding a high degree of customization for their unique requirements and small customers buying just one or two standard products serving their far simpler needs (or if they do have greater needs, we cannot afford to serve them because of their purchase volume).
While this type of segmentation works in addressing those two extremes, the problem is ‘the middle’ – the medium-size, medium complexity customers. Leaving them all in one segment is often not a good option, as they can comprise 60 – 70 percent of your revenue.
In a probably slightly twisted sort of way I often think of the Rolling Stones song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” when I think about Voice of the Customer or VOC. It is almost a universal truth that if you ask customers what they want, they will respond with some form of “a better version of what we are buying from you (or your competitor) today at a lower price.” If you just ask directly, this is almost certainly what customers will say they want, and many probably believe it. But the goal of good VOC is to get beyond this superficial response.
We often talk with companies who are waiting to work on their strategy because they are reworking their mission and vision statements. There are key differences between mission, vision and strategy and it is essential they all fit together to drive impact. Successful companies connect these three pieces together to ensure their business focus is clear, communicated and market driven. But strategy is too important to be put on hold while you search for the perfect mission and vision.
Our advice: Make sure you don’t put your strategy on hold while updating your vision and mission statements.
Read the full blog for insights on the core components of your strategy that drive results to set you and your company up for success.
Too often, companies believe that the purpose of strategic planning is to find some magical ‘silver bullet’ that will solve all their problems and guarantee a path to profitable growth. A frustrating conversation with a client we had a few years ago comes to mind:
Amphora: What do you think of this draft strategy?
Client Executive: I don’t know, it feels like something is missing.
Amphora: Well, is there something wrong with our logic? This strategy should result in higher growth and higher profits.
Client Executive: No, but it’s based on information we already know, I was looking for a big idea.
Amphora: Yes, but this strategy is completely different than how you currently operate; it clarifies the underlying business trade-offs and forces different choices. Is there something you think we overlooked?
Client Executive: I just feel like there should be something more, like an outside-the-box idea.
Amphora: Is there any specific big idea that you think we should investigate?
Client Executive: I thought that was what you were going to come back with.
Expecting your strategic planning team to come up with the next big idea to guarantee profitable growth, is a bit like asking for a plan to lose weight without diet or exercise, or a plan to make money in the stock market without taking any risk. It would be nice if these strategies existed, but it is rarely the case.