Welcome to the first day of the second half of 2014. As we start this brand new day, let us pause to think about 31 Dec 2014 and commit to achieving something important for your business for the rest of the year. So in this article, let us apply strategic thinking to make the future come alive.
Start by identifying your intent. Think about what you want to achieve by the end of this year. Not just broadly but in very specific terms. Are we looking to drive revenue, open up a new market, introduce a new product, or start a new business unit? Whatever your intent is, make sure that it is aligned with your bigger goals, and supported by your success factors.
For example, I have decided that my intent for the second half of 2014 will be to drive business growth and I am looking to achieve 100% YOY growth. My other success factors include:
1. signing up 8 new corporate clients in Singapore;
2. onboarding at least 3 new associate trainers;
3. make Indonesia a self-sustaining market
Thinking in time
Next, look back at how the last 6 months has been for you. Have you managed to accomplish what you had set out in the beginning of this year? What worked and what did not? What do you need to change in order to achieve your intent for the rest of the year?
As for my business, looking back at the last 6 months, (in fact over the last 6 years!) I have realised that the more I am working in the business, the less I will work on it. As development work on the product has concluded, there is no need for me to work in it any more. I can now work on it. And this opens up a new opportunity for me. Instead of me delivering our programs, I will focus on the business end of it; in effect achieving the success factors that I had set out for the next half year. This means that I will effectively hand over delivery to our associate trainers, thereby freeing me to concentrate on growing the business organically. This is a brand new development on my end! Look at how thinking in time can totally up-end your status quo!
Drivers and Holistic Solutions
With your intent in mind, identify the system under which it is operating and the system drivers. As every intent resides within a system, when we identify the reinforcing and hindering drivers of that system, and build the interconnections between and among the, we can identify the centres of gravity of our solutions, and use that to form holistic solutions.
In my case, the system is obviously busines building, and my key reinforcing drivers are:
1. increased marketing activities
2. greater awareness by customers
3. clients building on clients
4. exceeding business needs
The hindering drivers include:
2. lack of knowledge
Drawing the system diagram, we have identified two centres of gravity 'greater awareness' and 'exceeding business needs'. We will therefore work to increase awareness of our ability to exceed business results through our customised training programs.
We come to the point where we need to stretch our thinking even further and contemplate options that fall outside our spotlight. Use these 7 reframing techniques to manually move your spotlight, applying your situation in totally diverse and disparate situations:
1. How can you increase differentiated value to a mass market product?
2. How can you find like-minded customers for a highly customised solution?
3. What other related products and services can I add to my current solution set?
4. What products can I bundle together to offer a more expansive solution?
5. How can I work across business lines to bundle solutions for new market needs?
6. Who can we work with outside our company to offer better solutions?
7. What new experiences can we give to our customers and potential customers?
Although we don't expect that all the 7 reframing techniques will yield a new idea, we have yet to find a situation when none will yield something. In our case, we have come up with an e-learning platform for our SDM program (#2), and a highly experiential learning program for all the topics within the strategy value chain (#3 & #7). These two ideas will now form our portfolio of solutions, and lead the charge for new business.
Once we have discovered all the wonderful paths we can take to meet our intent, it is really time for us to converge onto the solution. However, before you choose between one option or another (sometimes called the "Tyranny of the OR"), allow me to stretch your mind once more and extoll the "Virtues of the AND". So if you can do one option, AND another, AND another one, all within the confines of your constraints, you will have enlarged your solutions and provided yourself with a higher chance of success.
In this case, we have decided that we will do greater incisive marketing, focusing on exceeding business results in the area of the full strategy value chain. We will also increase our channels of delivery by opening up an e-learning solution. That is our "Virtue of the AND".