I just read an article in CBInsights regarding a post mortem of more than 200 companies that failed. It made me think if there is a way to prevent failure or provide insight into potential failures and errors that could be prevented and corrected a priori.
To that end, we have developed a series of 20 tools that can be used by the StreetSavvy Business Executive that can help diagnose problems and provide data upon which better decisions can be made. Over the next several weeks, I will share 5 tools per week for our readers’ use.
Let me reiterate the definition of a StreetSavvy Business Executive. It is a person in charge, normally in the executive suite, that has responsibility for a program or function or department, and who doesn’t follow the crowd. Their goal is to find opportunities- call them blue ocean or impulse events- which prevent their business entity from regressing to the mean of mediocrity. Following the crowd is not in their DNA. They want to create their own path to success and by so doing, distance themselves from the crowd.
There are many tools, constructs, and paradigms we, at C-Level Partners, use to find solutions to complex problems. We are glad to share those with our readers in our blogs, seminars and other media. To that end, we put together this collection of tools and a brief description that we use to help companies. Here are the first five tools. Feel free to provide comments and “like” them and share with whomever you believe can use them. And feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 949 439-4503.
This is C-Level Partners basic way we analyze problems. It is like a super gap and it is a very disciplined approach to solving complex problems. This methodology is applicable in any situation where value creation is inhibited.
Problem definition (description of) the current state and why it is insufficient
Root cause identification (what is causing the problem or constraint to achieving the goal)
Analysis of the desired future state (what it will look like when a problem is fixed or constraint lifted)
Steps needed to develop specific prescriptions and priorities to get from “here” to “there” (people, process, technology and governance)
Engage in an action plan based on priorities, organization, delegation, and follow up to achieve your goal state)
Market research comes in many forms, shapes and sizes. There is one tool that can be utilized more in market research and that is the side by side matrix. This enables the business executive to collect data on two or more dimensions to get a broader view of attributes important to a constituent. Not all survey vehicles offer this type of system yet Survey Monkey to a degree and QuestionPro offer very good templates and tools for use in conducting this research. When coupled with the Quad Maps (because they visually depict answers in two dimensions, the results can be very powerful. From Question Pro (www.questionpro.com ) here’s the construct of the side-by-side matrix.
While these questions may be easy to frame, think about categorizing questions. For example, we categorized questions as customer service and support, retail experience, web experience, product breadth, sales reps, and other categories. Within each category we subdivided the questions to get some more granularity.
Using this tool and plotting it on a “quad map” is ideal to visual what you can leverage and what strategic initiatives need to be put into place.
For one wireless company using this research, the company was able to realign its strategy and marketing budget. The results showed the company what was important and for those activities that they performed well, the marketing plan was able to leverage those positive attributes. For other activities that the customer deemed not important, the company reduced expenditures. And for those activities that the customers said were important but where the company fell short, initiatives and corrective actions were put in place. The system worked well and the implementation of the results helped put the company on a new path to growth and propel the company to market leader position.
A quad map is a simple tool to determine what to leverage, where to focus, what to watch and what to ignore or spend fewer dollars on. We normally couple the Quad Maps with information attained through the side-by-side market research.
Business executives can break down questions into functional areas such as customer service, product breadth, store design, pricing and other categories. Customers, suppliers and even company employees can answer the questions of importance and performance using the side-by-side matrix mentioned above.
Those areas that are important and for which performance is poor can be thought of as potential strategic imperatives that the company or entity needs to undertake to correct. Those attributes that are important and for which the entity performs well should be leveraged and emphasized. Those items that are not important for which companies perform well.
Another simple yet powerful tool for use in positioning and competitive analysis is called the Spider diagram, because when you look at the graphical plot it looks like a spider web.
Attributes are indicated on the spokes and the length of the spoke reflects the scale e.g. from 0-10 (highest)A critical assessment of your brand, in this case, vs. the competitive brands can provide information on where to focus because your brand is better and where you might need improvement.
It was interesting to see this system used in the 2016 NFL draft as positional players were compared by using spider diagrams.
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. A SWOT analysis is a tool that can be used to help the business person make better strategic decisions and develop plans that will be effective against the competition. It can be used as a complement to Spider Diagrams.
Normally Strengths and Weaknesses focus on internal attributes of the company e.g. competencies, resources, reputation, brand, customer service and similar items. Opportunities and Threats normally focus on the external world although many companies can conceivably find both threats and opportunities internally. Threats include competition, regulation, and social changes, changing workforces, governmental policies and similar items. Opportunities are noted where the company can make inroads e.g. a new market, or where new competencies, alliances and technologies can be obtained to provide an advantage in the current markets, expand product lines or increase sales.
Most SWOT analyses are broken down into a two-by-two matrix, with one box for each of the four components but can be extended to include a SWOT comparison for multiple competitors.
Here are two templates that can be used. This first one is for the company itself and the second one is for a company relative to its competition.Note that competition should be considered as existing competition i.e. direct competitors as well as indirect competitors and potential competitors.
We hope these five tools are good additions to your toolkit and will help you get data upon which to make decisions and to make the complex problems a little easier to dissect and address.