Geoffrey Allison, the SIX STRING cpaTM , reached out on Twitter recently about guest posting on strategy and planning. His tweet led to an in-person lunch where I learned more about Geoffrey’s career and his combination of finance and music.
With over 17 years of business experience, Geoffrey holds two undergraduate degrees, Business Administration and Accounting, as well as an MBA. The title of one of his first compositions was “The Six String CPA”, and he now thoughtfully merges his love of both rock guitar and finance in his consulting work via his trademark SIX STRING cpaTM. When Geoff is not busy working on various ideas and ventures he is building up a new charity, Building a Bookshelf, that he started with his wife.
I’m always a huge fan of whole-brain finance people (especially those similar to long-time reader Cory Christensen who combine the mathematical underpinnings of music and finance), so it was great to get to know Geoffrey better and share his take on strategic planning with you:
Strategy Development: A New Take
Spend any time in the business world and you will quickly learn building a successful business is as much art as science. And one can approach the building of their business similarly to creating a musical composition. Put the pieces together in a manner so that you create a business that is a unique expression of what you need and want to accomplish. More importantly, creating a unique business establishes a competitive advantage that is harder for competitors to mimic and may create increasing value.
Phrasing is a very powerful technique in the musical world. A portion of the Wikipedia definition for Musical Phrasing says : “Phrasing refers to an expressive shaping of music, and relates to this shaping of notes in time. Phrasing relates to the manner of playing the individual notes of a particular group of consecutive notes; and the way they are weighted and shaped relative to one another…” For example, if I am developing a rock riff for electric guitar, I can end the riff by playing an “A” note located on the fifth fret of the low “E” string or by playing the open fifth “A” string. Numerous other combinations and permutations exist too. The result of phrasing is very interesting. Not only does the riff sound slightly different but changing the phrasing of the riff allows the composer to plan ahead and setup the next phrase.
Phrasing in a musical context adds uniqueness, expression, flair, originality and makes it more memorable. In the world of popular music, being memorable means a much higher chance of commercial success. So to me, it only makes sense that we start to think of strategy creation and business planning in a similar context, and I use the term Business Component Phrasing™. There are so many components to every business endeavor: capital, labor, materials, creativity (entrepreneurship), marketing programs, customer service, training and development, manufacturing processes; etc. It is enough to make even the smartest, most well intentioned business owner go cock-eyed. Organization is clearly needed! Organization is so important that that is represented by the letter “O” in the R.O.CK. Star Business Method™ that I created.
An overarching strategy clearly defining an organization’s vision, mission and purpose guides the decisions on how to develop, fund and execute against all of these various business components. Many business owners never take the time to employ any type of strategy development whatsoever, knowing intuitively that an organized approach through strategy development will make their business more successful. So why isn’t strategy development done regularly? Because strategy development is boring – Snoozeville? As someone who spent years in strategy development roles I can say that it can be. But it does not need to be if some methodology is employed that allows strategy development to generate from a creative and fun perspective.
Business Component Phrasing™ is a way to inject some creativity into business planning and strategy development by reminding the business owner to think about what “NOTES” they want to emphasize in their business. Determine how you want your business to be different and ORGANIZE it in a manner that drives the business in that direction, building competitive advantage(s) along the way. Think of the Organization of your business endeavor as your unique musical composition and think of strategy development as nothing more than the phrasing of various business components (like the notes in a song). You will be much more likely to be energized when engaged in the process. Get out there and proactively build a unique enterprise; make it memorable; and make it your own! – Geoffrey Allison, the SIX STRING cpaTM