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Archive for January, 2011

At the end of 2010, strategy+business showed an interesting essay on the link between performance and strategy, underlining the increasing factor of coherence in a whole company’s strategy. Coherence seems to be a key difference advantage that enlight all the capabilities of a company, aligning all skills to the best delivered services for customers. As now, 3 elements are necessary and described as essential to be “coherent” and have an efficient strategy:

  • market position
  • capabilities
  • product and service portfolio

I tried to resume these few parts in a synthetic matrix to help understanding of global concept as:

Where you can observe more details in explanations like:

  • the necessary start with few leans, skills and financial surface
  • the temptation to quick embrace the mass market with no really “shift” in value purpose: me-like, that can’t really last for a long time before a new comer sweep all your former efforts
  • or the early specialisation with rare skills, hold and protect them from new comers and competition (blue oceans or expert strategy)
  • and finally settle a strong position built on experience, rare skills, mass delivering and brand awareness

After revealing the steps and way, result of different paths/strategies to invade markets, Paul Leinwald and Cesare Mainardi isolated four sources of value to underline the relation between coherence and performance, like:

  • process and method engineering and quick improvement driven by coherence: coherent process increase efficiency faster than competitors: we say “enhance effectiveness”
  • training further your capabilities make an enroll process for other departments and skills of your company: we say “enhance efficiency”
  • focused investment: means really increase efforts and investments on capabilities that differentiate you from competition and/or gives you a step ahead and an substantial advance on your market
  • core coherence means “spending time to give a coherent and relevant global frame of decision making, agreed and used by everyone in the company” ; no need to fight, coherence is then a desired way of business life, inside all departments and process

All of these four sources of value reinforce the others. Alignment makes an easier future for company, to greater efficiency. Growth is faster, cheaper and with a better adoption for convincing employees to the whole strategy: “a good strategy must be obvious and has not to be explained”.

Coherence calls for coherence because when you practice it, you may identify more easily the misfunctions of process and behaviors. A virtual circle, with a stairway move to grow value, service and relevance for your customers’ delivering…

 

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Loyalty is in the end a very important part of the value of any relation. Build a trusty system means years of taming and needs lots of efforts and demonstration on how you can deliver promises, and keep them alive in a long term. This concept stands with any part of modern communication and relation and rise with it. We can quote “loyalty calls loyalty”, when we see that the most loyals subjects do, because they like and spread it. While we’re facing a big shift in the way brands speak to targeted customers and drive their whole relation, customer could be considered as less “loyal”. Because of his mobility, he becomes less “catchable”, I mean in advertising terms, underlining the new technologies that keep him alive “on” with the brand: mobile devices. The way we look at customers intentions and try to catch his “brain awareness” changes. In fact, could mobile be an awesome opportunity to enhance loyalty or a silent threat to lose audience?

The mobile facts: some figures worth more than long talks…(source: ITU)

  • more than 5 billion mobile subscribers in the world
  • nearly 1 billion has access to 3G services
  • mobile networks access: more than 90% of global population and 80% in rural zones
  • already thinking of 4G networks, increasing speed and services
  • web access will overtake PC and domestic devices (wired), within 5 next years
  • 450 millions users on web mobile, end of 2009 (IDC)

This “jack-in-the-box cumulated figures” means that any people on earth (nearly…) can receive a simple message from any brand that wants to catch him…got it? Hate or like? Chance or fear? I think everybody will (have to) find rules and own behavior and reaction with this new environment…

The Loyalty goodness

Loyalty seems to be an actual goal for everyone: brands, couples, retail, habits…Why? Because it costs far less to nurture and care an “established situation” with uses and automatic behaviors, than draw, seduce and attract new ones. True for customers, new comers, new process…and new husband/wife. Now living in a always wired era drives us to more “online” behaviors, acquired to lots of any information. These new habits mean that we’re more demanding about brand communication and customer care, even if we’re not customer yet. This eco-system, self-feeding situations seems to find a regulation with user generating content, added by any citizen, in mobile situation. The more we are touched by mobile communication, the more we’re in fact, tied softly to brands, increasing our silent loyalty and attachment to companies. Loyalty is key for long term forecasts and ongoing business models, that can improve portfolios for brands.

What we see is a necessary change on how you target customers: awareness is not captured like any other situation and needs accuracy, what I see: bad moment for a SMS is a dead-born message…Life duration of a SMS and our ability to use it is in fact, few seconds…snatch for catch is the real art and skill of mobile communication. Even with PDA spreading everywhere, majority is often limited in size, shape and kind of message your mobile device can manage. Intrusion is as bad as choose a bad moment to send your message: as mobile is personal, you can’t be wrong with your target. Any disruption between the message and the profile of the targeted customer and you will have a storm against you: the action will give you the exact upset situation for the brand…So be careful. Last but not least, “personal” means directly linked to the individual and you can pledge for mistake or misunderstanding, or hide behind bulk message: you are supposed to engage conversation and give arguments, if the customers speaks to you…as an individual people.

Virality is a perfect territory of expression to spread loyalty. But no pain, no gain. Spread loyalty in fact means no more but no less than spread trust, through your customers…So they engage them in a risk they were not obviously prepared to assume, and will shame you if you betray and show them, they were wrong to do so…Absolutely disappointed. For a long time. All your efforts blowed in a single SMS…? That worths to think twice before act…Mobile tagging (stickybits, u snap, shop savvy…), geolocalization (foursquare, plyce, gowallah, tellmewhere, waze…) are so cute ways to follow you (without being too intrusive first…) and hold the link and relation between a brand and a customer. A personal and mobile one.

The independance riot

Lots of things, reactions and strange behaviors told us in history to care about machines control…This holy link for brands can quickly become a nightmare for customers, because being in mobility means sometimes a moment of serenity and  is particularly “my moment”. Do I like to be disturbed? It may transform our attitude in a sharp reaction, the “action-reaction” of throwing away all our good intentions and thoughts about the so called “friend” brand. Do we want “independance” or do we like to be plugged “all-wired” entity? Are we supposed to be en “engaged consumer” at all prices and times, where does our engagement start and end, as any sign of further involvement means we do accept, assume (like?) the ongoing phenomenia of being followed with our cute device, as a personal spy, shouting more and more commercials…

This schizophrenic question and dilemma may drive to bunch of protestants fence, leading to a community riot, boycotting brands and company, products and attitude. By doing this, “Lots lost lots”, underlines the surgerical need to be very careful about the final goals and uses of mobile opportunities. Remember independance drove people to blogs, forums and parallel sources of information, where trust can be refound. And I think it’s dangerous to lose with impulsive actions, trust you spent months to build. Moreover when it’s for sales matters and start to be boring with the mobile target, that just wanted to go apart from the “promotion noise”…

Human is anything else than an independant and rarely wants to be linked, promised, as he never asked for. But being opti§n doesn’t mean everything is allowed though: like the butterfly effect, a small SMS can raise a viral revolution…

Drawing the necessary conclusions

Nothing is really grave or irreversible in fact. We have what we ask for, when we see such passion for mobile devices, it must be important for us not cut the link with anything…And remember there’s a switch off that can resolve conflicts and harassment. Use it anytime it’s necessary…Brands too, sometimes switch off, when you have some claims on the way…

 

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Jim Collins’s best seller “Good to Great” never finished to bring us all the details necessary to a perfect evolution of a modern company. Understanding that good is in fact, not so good at all, and finally a disadvantage, time has come to raise the level of competitivity of a corporation. Good is not good enough and need to enhance the conscious, but can be enough for lots of people, avoiding them to ask for excellence and greatness. That’s why Jim Collins drove a long years study, discovering and confronting “good” and “great” companies, to understand behaviors and differences of strategies, leading to change. I’d like to share a quick report of the principles keys, shaping the framework of results given by many interviews, meetings and talks with several executives and CEO. Interesting to see how structure, understanding and method can change the way we lead the business dance after digesting these different results.

1) Right people: any adventure you start, you have to play with good guys, right guys in fact; having right resources means not spending lots of money in motivations tools or process, by having DNA motivated guys to follow you, anytime you want.

2) Level 5 leaders: those who you want to follow by heavy weather too, in any situation against all transformations. Charism, good sense and ethic and far beyond basic business goals. Respectable, humble and close to executive, strong and straight decisions and last but not least: consistent. A kind of CEO you don’t forget, to pilot the business bus.

3) Brutal facts: they are for sure, and hide your face in the sand doesn’t make any sense. The best option is to face the reality with structure, skills and imagination. The more you consider it, the more you know your environment and know how to cope with it. a great and fantastic ability, buried into level 5 leaders core competencies, needed to right understanding of what’s going on…

4) Culture of Discipline: when you stare any modern and dynamic entity or try to explain the efficiency of a large corporation, there’s anything but discipline. If you have right people on the bus (see 1), you’ll get essence of discipline and motivation inside. Discipline includes organization, report, know all about your own responsability toward each other, a main competency for working in teams and large projects human groups. Army, as a comparison, can show a perfect model of efficiency of discipline when you have to cope with thousands of people on a whole operation to succeed. And if anyone knows his role in the larger project, the bus drives fast, surely and to achievement of initial goals.

5) the everlasting fashion dreams of “techs”: driven by IT, web 2.0 and web invasion, we think IT drives the world on its own. But none of it. IT makes things possible, but doesn’t create things, ideas, process and management. It forces us to change, revisit our old concepts, and shows us new possibilities. Web bubble increased the idea of “everything is possible”, without any improvement on HOW…we shall do it. If tech makes us dreaming, it seems “only” an accelerator and requires to have clear mind and strategy about how drive the company to success: business keys and positions to take. Techs are definitely not magic wand…

6) Faith? Everything in life needs faith. Faith for what you do, try, want, dream. If you stop having faith for what you believe, do or breathe, you won’t be excellent…You’ll miss the essential core of masterpieces. Spiritural side of your projects is important too, to feel the sheer face of problems, solutions and leadership. Any leader (religious, prophet, economic, politic…) has his own hidden side of unknown. But having faith always-on aside makes them more powerful and insightful for future.

7) the ongoing process of turning wheel (sometimes it even flies…!): when putting so much efforts and energy to get all those elements together, you don’t want to stop the movement. Getting part and involved in a whole shift for change, your old side is over. You nurtured a complex global machine, with each part in a single function, delivering value to the whole process. The inertia that has been generated can’t (must not) be stopped without throwing away all the efforts made so far. Too many changes in business navigation and you’re gonna lose teams and direction…You only make one good impression: the one you are, when you’re driving the change with leadership, success, method and charism.

This is the way for sure, to raise a “build-to-last” company, those one resist to crisis, transformation or turnover threats. Those who  will face competition with serenity

I made my mind forever with this book. I agree with these simple concepts because for one time they are fully real and concrete. Company lead seems complicated because we make (and keep) it complicated, to build barriers for our own interest and not for collective and social improvement. And as I started, talking about Jim Collins’ thoughts, “companies can’t find the way to greatness because they are good. And they consider them as good enough, not to change anything…”. A human mistake, because we’re only human, with egos and limits…

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