Strategic Planning | The Brainzooming Group - Part 32 – page 32
0

A loyal reader pointed out that the Brainzooming blog has grown so large that it’s more challenging to find specific posts. One possibility is using the search function on each page to search for particular topics directly in Brainzooming articles.

Another alternative is doing compilations on frequently addressed topics. Here’s a short list of strategic planning content directly applicable if you’re under the gun to get strategic planning completed for next year.

A Foundation on Strategic Planning and Strategic Thinking

Creating Focus in Your Strategic Planning

Contingency Planning

Updating Your Current Strategic Plan

Implementing Specific Strategic Planning Actions

Wrapping Up with a Smile on Your Face

There are certainly other Brainzooming articles touching on these planning topics, but ideally this short list will get you jump started for current planning efforts you have to complete. – Mike Brown

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

If you’re struggling to lead a viable strategic planning effort, The Brainzooming Group can be the strategic catalyst you need. We will apply our strategic thinking, innovation, and implementation tools on to help you create greater organizational success. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call  816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you figure out how to work around planning and implementation challenges.


Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

0

Keith Prather is Managing Director of Armada Corporate Intelligence, a corporate business intelligence firm that functions as outsourced members of corporate strategy groups and consults with companies of all sizes on strategy and implementation. Armada is sponsoring this week of posts on getting ready for 2010 planning.

I’ve known Keith for nearly a decade and have worked with him closely on a variety of strategic and market planning efforts. Today, I’m excited he’s sharing his professional perspectives on getting a better understanding of your external environment during this period of dramatic global change in business and consumer markets:

A critical component of a successful strategic plan is a well-established strategy foundation – a compilation of information and intelligence covering your industry, global markets, customers, and the environment. Particularly relevant this year is the need to produce an accurate economic forecast with meaning and relevance for the business. And given the uncertainty surrounding the global economy, this can be a daunting task.

Following the most basic tenets, forecasters need to identify the supply and demand drivers for an industry, and capture meaningful data describing the condition and outlook for them. Sometimes though the most impactful elements on a business are not what we think. Going to the expense side of the income statement and understanding the biggest cost items in your business will help determine the real key elements of supply – those you rely on.

For instance, one client believed steel (which was one of the company’s top expenses) was the primary input for its business, with countless hours spent monitoring, forecasting, and negotiating steel prices. Energy costs, on the other hand, were not considered to have a material impact, and were lumped into utility and overhead costs. In 2008, however, consumption of oil-based resources drove prices up significantly. As a result, oil costs had to be factored much more directly into forecasting models to improve their accuracy. By not anticipating this significant change to the company’s business mix, however, it was caught flat footed.

On the demand side, the challenge is more complex. While providing future economic insights for clients, several fundamental items seem to be driving things developments. First, everything ultimately circles back to consumers. You and I, spending money, drives more than 70% of the nation’s $13 trillion in GDP. Watching consumer spending, consumer confidence, housing, and several other metrics tracking consumer activity are useful in helping gauge future activity. One great aggregator site for basic economic information is the US Census Bureau’s Economic Indicator page.

There are some other great free aggregator sites providing solid current economic news and explanations of some of the items driving current activity. One of my favorites is the RTTNews Daily Market Analysis. We also pay a lot of attention to the Financial Times, CNBC, Wall Street Journal, and Global Insight for forecasting information.

For manufacturing, the Institute for Supply Management publishes one of the most accurate gauges of manufacturing activity, the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), on a monthly basis. You can read about the PMI in simple, easy to follow prose at the ISM website.

Calculating risk is also an important component to a well-done strategy foundation. With a wave of new legislation floating around in Congress, it is important for companies to use scenario planning in considering impacts of various regulatory actions on the company. From health care to energy legislation, companies will be hit with direct and indirect risks as a result. Using a system such as the Lockwood Analytical Method for Prediction (LAMP) can help in gauging which scenarios provide the greatest risk – and the greatest likelihood of occurring.

It can’t be said enough, a solid strategy foundation is the underpinning to a successful strategic plan. Woodrow Wilson once said: “We should not only use all the brains we have, but all the brains we can borrow.” If you can’t build the strategy foundation in-house, it’s worth getting help to make sure that the business landscape is being accurately portrayed. Otherwise, you might be building a ship when what you really need is a bicycle. – Keith Prather

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

0

My, how times change!

In the old days, I’d get twitchy if our planning group’s attention hadn’t turned to readying for the next year’s planning by April with completion targeted for early September. Amid a changing business environment, however, those dates got progressively later until the prospect of nearly coincident planning left us unphased.

At the Frost & Sullivan event I participated in during the first week in November, attendees were asked who was still working on 2010 plans. Based on the large percentage of hands raised, it looked like many companies have pushed back planning efforts much later.

As a result, Brainzooming is focused on 2010 planning, providing tips and ideas to prepare your plan for what your marketplace holds next year. Here’s what’s coming this week:

If you’re feeling really under the gun for getting your 2010 plan done on time with the level of rigor to help your business be more successful in 2010, get in touch with Armada today for help with an Idea Generation Session, a Plan Audit, or a Fast-Track plan building session. – Mike Brown

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

1

I first connected with Sage Bray when she was nice enough to do a tweet pointing her Twitter followers to Brainzooming as a great blog for creative inspiration. Her Twitter name (@aSageInRealLife) and profile were both tremendously intriguing. Sage is involved in a very cool blend of freelance writing, art, and consulting with small businesses and solopreneurs. Her published work has appeared with Inc. Magazine, The Poor Chef, Examiner.com, and a myriad of other online periodicals. She blogs about making a living from creative endeavors on aSageInRealLife.com.

In today’s guest blog, Sage shares her perspectives on the benefits of placing creative thinking at the heart of planning:

Creativity isn’t really about random inspiration although it does seem that way sometimes. What it is really about is exploring options. Instead of falling into the “It’s done that way because that’s always how it’s been done” mode of thinking, you step outside the box, break new ground, push the limits, or get radical. Those are acts of true creativity – an essential, but often overlooked, component for a growing, vibrant business.

Even if you ask for innovative thinking from your employees or yourself, it can still be a fairly rare occurrence. That’s because it’s too easy to jump at the first viable idea that comes along. I have a rule: I must come up with an absolute minimum of three solutions to any business problem—although I try for at least 10. This means lots of wacky, crazy ideas which are fun and do result in some really interesting ideas. But it’s having choices that forces me to compare the pros and cons and really analyze what is possible.

For instance, if you want to get the word out about, say, your new casino style gaming site, you may think it’s innovative to start a campaign on Facebook, get fans, and start networking on gaming forums. And you could, and probably should. But what else could you do? There is traditional print advertising, which is becoming the rare thing to do these days. Under certain circumstances though, that could be the best choice to direct your funds, especially if you have a very targeted market. How about getting someone to dress up as Elvis and pass out coupons for free trials at local festivals? Or offer free life-long subscriptions to a couple big entertainment bloggers? Are these viable solutions for your marketing? You may laugh at the idea of some guy dressed up as Elvis promoting your business, but I know several businesses that do exactly that and they have seen significant measurable increases from this kind of promotion. No solution is too crazy – not if it works.

However, being creative and innovative does not mean just doing it differently. It means doing it well, in the best way possible, using the ingenuity you draw from others and from your experiences. Keep up your reservoir of ideas by reading plenty of blogs and newsletters, attending trade shows and local meet-up groups, and brainstorming with colleagues.

Don’t limit your exposure to things related to your specific industry either. You can glean fantastic ideas from both related and unrelated industries by simply asking yourself how their innovative ideas can relate to what you do.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel (although that sometimes happens) to keep your business growing and flexible. But you do have to be prepared to do things differently and look for creative solutions to even the most common problems. Keep in mind, the objective is to do whatever you do well. Sometimes the answer you need will be something completely ordinary and what you’ve been doing all along. The thing is, you won’t know if it’s the best solution without thinking creatively about it. – Sage Bray

TweetIt from HubSpot

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

0
Today’s guest post is from Kai Rostcheck, an Idea Guy who problem solves and discovers opportunities for small businesses that believe in the triple bottom line of economic benefit, social impact, and environmental sustainability. Kai has an “Idea of the Day” that you can sign up for at his website: http://www.kairostchek.com.

In this post, he shares his perspective on the criticality of developing a business, revenue, and profit model that works:

A company I know in Boston is close to closing its doors. This is disappointing, because it’s a truly unique venture that captures the remarkable stories hidden inside of every day people; things you’d usually miss if there weren’t someone clever enough to go looking and tell you what’s really there.

We’re trying to find a revenue model that will allow them to shift gears and have come up with some great short-term ideas. But their long-term viability is still a question mark. Unfortunately, this occurs all the time. People with great convictions start businesses and invest lots of time and money before figuring out how to make a profit.

I heard the same kind of story from another consultant friend recently. After that, I met a young entrepreneur at a Web Innovator’s conference who is struggling to find funding, and still needs to figure out her revenue model.

It’s happening all over the place.

Personally, I work for more than the bottom line and encourage all companies to consider social impact and environmental responsibility as part of their core strategies. But the reality is that we can’t stay in business for long if we’re not profitable. It’s not ok just to build it in the hope that customers will come, unless you are just playing around with a concept and don’t feel attached to a successful outcome.

You wouldn’t make roast beef without the roast. You don’t make pancakes without eggs. You can’t wash your car without water (well, I suppose you can at a waterless carwash. There’s always an exception). If you are an entrepreneur, you can’t succeed without a viable and flexible revenue strategy. No marketing program can make up for this fundamental truth.

One of the instructors at Boston University’s graduate entrepreneurship course requires his students to submit business plans with two alternative business models, to prepare them for the reality their core focus could fail or get pushed back. This is the equivalent of a well-stocked kitchen that allows you to improvise and adapt in case you run out of something.

We are entering the age of lean, when young, flexible companies are driving innovation. That’s a good thing. If you count yourself among that crowd, just be sure to stock the cabinets with your main ingredients before you start cooking up your next business idea. Those ingredients must include a solid financial plan and a great network.

In my area, there are lots of support groups offering free consultations. The folks from DartBoston are a good example. I know of others that focus on social entrepreneurship, pre-VC stage strategy, etc. I bet there are some in your area too. My advice is to look around and see who’s willing to give you advice before you get in too deep. Good luck! – Kai Rostcheck

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

0

Before and after the recent National Association of Women Business Owners session on DIY Strategic Thinking, I had the great opportunity to appear on radio programs on Kansas City’s KCTE Hot Talk 1510 AM. Strategic Thinking and Hot Talk – what a combination! Since both programs are available for listening online, you can be the judge.

In late May, I appeared with good friend Jay Liebenguth on his Thursday afternoon show, Live with Jay. Jay has been a great supporter, and beyond putting the radio show online, he wrote an incredibly kind post on his blog.

We covered a variety of strategic thinking topics, many of which have been highlighted here. Take a listen to the show, and for your quick reference, here are links to topics we covered.

After the NAWBO program, I met Kelly Scanlon, publisher of “Kansas City Small Business Monthly,” appearing on her June 20 Friday morning program. This Thursday there will be a link to that show and the innovation topics we covered.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

0

Here’s a quick check for generating a simple, solid strategy. Is your strategy?

  • Understandable – Will employees be able to read it and comprehend your direction, even if someone isn’t there to explain it?
  • Implementable – Will something be able to be done with the strategy to create positive business results?
  • Aligning – Will following the strategy create a natural inclination for employees to work in a cooperative fashion toward a common goal?

Solid (and simple) strategies should generate three “Yes” answers to these questions. So how does your strategy stack up? Ideally it displays the appropriate level of simplicity.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading