Category: Monday Motivation

07 Aug 2017

Outperforming Competitors

Most organizations today are not structured or organized properly to make good decisions that will help them outperform their competition in the marketplace.

 The benefits gained by successfully anticipating a competitor’s future plans and strategies are generally self-evident. The consequences of making decisions based on information that is incomplete, inaccurate, or late are as severe.

Today’s managers face an abundance of information in their decision-making contexts, and sometimes this information abundance causes them to be paralyzed. Much information arriving to top managers is biased, distorted, subjective, filtered, and/or late.

Modern Competitive Intelligence (CI) practitioners are stimulated by using their unique set of skills, knowledge, abilities, and instincts to uncover relationships that enable their organizations to compete more effectively. Most CI practice includes a heavy dose of analytical capabilities.

CI can be described as the process by which organizations gather information about competitors and the competitive environment and, ideally, apply it to their planning processes and decision-making in order to improve their enterprise’s performance.

CI links signals, events, perceptions, and data into discernible patterns and trends concerning the business and competitive environment. CI can be simple scanning, such as analyzing a company’s annual report and other public documents, or elaborate, such as performing a fully digitized, multi-day war -gaming exercise.

 Decision makers are charged with answering a small number of very powerful questions about their organization, including the following:

  1. What is our current status or situation?
  2. What are our options?
  3. In which direction (-s) do we want to go?
  4. Which direction can and should we go?
  5. How can we effectively get to where we have decided we are going?
  6. How will we know that we have reached our desired goal (-s)?

 

 Answering these questions is the foundation for a competitive intelligence practice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

03 Jul 2017

What Is Your Fear?

Are you pursing the goals that matter most to you?

Are you satisfied with your level of success?

Are you glad to be where you are in life?

Are you playing YOUR own game or are you playing someone else’s game?

Everything seems hard. We are all busy and we are all tired. We all don’t have enough money. We all know someone who says we can’t or that we would never make it. And then we are worried with what comes next. Are these excuses familiar to you?

What about these –

  • Fear of change
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of not being good enough
  • Waiting for something to happen
  • Perfectionism
  • Being overwhelmed with all that you have to do
  • Not knowing how

 

Well guess what – there is a battle going on….. and it is between your ears!!

Don’t surrender!

While your fears may be real they are not good enough reasons for inaction. Your biggest work is in front of you.

One of the most powerful, definitely frightening, and certainly most challenging actions we can take is to be fully responsible for who we are, how we behave and how we want to live our life.

It’s so much easier to blame others when things go wrong, when you get angry, upset or fearful when nothing seems to go right. When your boss avoids you, your partner abuses you or your family puts you down. But how would it be if you could take control – and turn this around? Powerful? – yes, and it’s all in your hands.

So here are some tips to help you overcome your excuses.  They are not in any particular order. Some are quick solutions and others take work –

 

  • Identify your goal and embrace it. Use this question as a start. What do you want the change to look like? How will that give your life meaning? Think about it – even go for a walk to reflect on it.

 

  • Create the space – even a small space (or time) to make a change.

 

  • Be accountable to someone while surrounding yourself with others making similar changes themselves.

 

  • Get help and insight to uncover and understand the core of the fear that is holding you back.

 

  • Take small steps that will move you forward. Movement begets movement. Now take another small step…… and change is created.

 

I find that most of my clients have difficulty addressing their fears because, in the end, it might show how vulnerable they really feel. However if we don’t understand what is holding us back how can we then create the lives we truly desire.

You know by letting any of your worries (also known as fears) out into the light and talking about it with someone who understands, it becomes a whole lot easier to see the situation or issue for what it really is.

Just venting can make a huge difference to your perspective.

If you don’t have anyone to talk to at the moment write it out. It means you get your issue out of your head, clarify your thoughts and find clarity in the small steps available to you to move forward.

Choose to no longer go along with the ride. It is your turn to drive. Choose your own route and own what comes of it.

It is really time to decide what you intend to do next and what the next few years will mean to you. Self leadership is all about leading the life you want, while energised for success!

 

About the Author

For over 25 years Babette Bensoussan has served as an advisor to organisations and business leaders around the world. A recognised global authority on Competitive Intelligence, and one of the most published authors and well-regarded speakers in her field, Babette brings valuable insights to entrepreneurs, business leaders and senior executives.

If you want some support to overcome your fear or just want to touch base, email me today!

01 Jun 2017

The Survival Manager’s Guide to Competitive Insights

For years companies have been establishing competitive intelligence (CI) capability to watch their external environment and provide early warning of threats and opportunities.  While establishing such units is more relevant than ever in these times of rapid change, many units are being eliminated while others aren’t providing the value that had originally been hoped for.   The unfortunate result is that companies have stopped watching their external environment at a time when their businesses could most benefit from the insights and early warning that true CI can provide.

Why CI endeavours may fail

The reason that many of these so-called CI units fail is because they were never intelligence units to begin with; they were data collecting teams.  Almost anyone in an organisation can collect data.  Intelligence, on the other hand, is forward-looking and decision-relevant.  It provides early analysis of emerging trends so that management can begin to act before events force them to.

With good intelligence capability, executives can begin to anticipate, rather than react to, the events that are taking place in the external environment.  Companies with effective intelligence capabilities say their CI units have generated millions of dollars in increased revenues or cost savings – easily offsetting the costs of running these units.

The difference between the teams that succeed and those that do not, is the ability to establish an ongoing dialogue with top management about upcoming decisions.  Those CI teams who fail to establish this dialogue, often guess the decisions management is facing and deliver information that is not relevant or useful.  Further, if a CI unit is buried deep within an organisation, it will never establish this type of strategic dialogue with its users – unfortunately, this is where the majority of intelligence efforts begin.

Can You Survive?

If your company has a CI unit, and if you are part of this unit, ask yourself the following:

  • Does the unit delivery unique insights that can’t easily be found elsewhere?
  • Does the unit deliver forward-looking analysis that directly supports management decisions?
  • How often does the unit deliver information that has already been published on a website or other medium?
  • If the unit were eliminated tomorrow, how easily could the organisation adjust?

If your CI unit doesn’t fare well against these criteria, the odds are against its long-term survival.  Both management and the CI team should start taking steps to keep it alive.

Survival Tips

To survive, keep the following rules in mind:

  • Ask yourself what future decisions will the CI unit support – not what kinds of information it should collect. Decision-relevance is critical to the unit’s survival.
  • Place the unit where it can have ready access to the decision makers that it will support.
  • Staff the unit with experienced professionals who can function on a peer level with users of intelligence.
  • Don’t task the unit with collecting only published information or other data that can easily be found elsewhere.

Those who follow these few rules will go a long way to ensuring that their competitive intelligence unit will survive and provide tangible value and return on investment.  Those who do not will be fighting the odds against the unit’s long-term survival.

 

 

 

05 Dec 2016

Are You Making Better Decisions?

It is the end of the year so we thought we should point out three of the most common yet most harmful practices in decision-making in business that you should keep in mind – especially if you are looking to make plans for 2017 over the coming months.


1. Casual Benchmarking:
People tend to copy the most visible, and obvious business practices of a competitive organisation without understanding the underlying purpose behind it. Few companies undertake the research and analysis to have a thorough understanding of the reasoning behind a strategy  – is it the best strategy to improve your organisation’s performance? What would the possible downsides be? And how could you do it more effectively?

2. Doing what has worked in the past: Be careful to understand exactly why a strategy was successful previously. Is it relevant to the issue at hand, and is this strategy the best practice to resolve the current situation? Be aware not to confuse success in spite of an action as opposed to success because of an action.

3. Following deeply held but unproven beliefs: This happens when management believes something will work or that it matches some assumptions that are held about what makes organisations successful. These assumptions or beliefs will resist change and affect judgements and choices, regardless of whether or not they are true. Check whether your decisions are relying on intuition, personal or group beliefs or influencers who may have other agendas in play.

Avoiding these pitfalls can lead to competitive advantage and clear direction setting in the most difficult of times.

08 Nov 2016

How Well Do You Choose?

The Power of Choice 

Every day we are faced with a myriad of personal or professional choices (some small ones – like what to have for lunch to important ones – such as should I quit my job and start my own business).  For each of these decisions or choices, we generally try to reflect on our options in a factual way and there are plenty of methods and tools out there to help with making choices – from throwing a coin to completing lists of pros and cons to undertaking heavy duty future projection analysis.

In this article though I want to talk to you about the emotional choices we have and the power we have in choosing our emotional response.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said “No one can make your feel inferior without your consent”.  The key words here are “your consent”.  That is right, we choose how we interpret what other people say or do, we choose how we want to interpret events.  We may reject what someone says or we may take it to heart – it depends on how we view the situation and the person saying it.

How we view a situation and the people involved is of course dependent on the filters we have developed since birth – the language we grew up with at home, the support we received in school, our social interactions, to name a few.  These filters will either limit or expand what we see and thus impact how we perceive and what we think about our circumstances. However how we wish to continue to experience any situation is really dependent upon our choices.

How can we change our choices or make different ones to those we have made in the past?

The first step is understanding the power of our thoughts, feelings and actions – in other words how we really show up in all the various aspects of our life.

There is no one magic formula that works for everyone every time, however if we acknowledge that our behaviour is based on previous learnings and experience, and that we are also constantly changing beings, each of us can look at the choices we make and be open to new learnings, new understandings and to developing a new story of our life!

So right now how can you lead a more conscious life?  What are the barriers to your success?  How can you remove these barriers and filters?  How can you make different choices?

To get you started download the free ‘Power of Choice’ template, click here! It provides some questions and strategies you might want to consider and reflect on.

If you want some support to better understand your filters or just want to touch base around the power of your choices, email me today!

 

18 Oct 2016

How To Develop Your Strategy in 4 easy Steps

I’m regularly astounded by the lack of process of many businesses when evaluating and developing good strategy.

I see businesses focusing their attention on the inside of their business, on their goals, leaving them little time to focus on the outside world, and their strategy.

This month I’ve reflected on the importance of looking outside, at your stakeholders – identifying who they are, understanding what you want from them, and knowing what they want from you.

Graham Kenny, my friend and colleague, wrote an article for The Harvard Business Review some years ago, which provided a simple step-by-step process to ensure you build a smart strategy aimed at achieving your business goals, and a competitive advantage.

A List of Goals is Not a Strategy

How many times have you sat with your management team or employees to develop your company, or department strategy only to find that you end up with a great list of generalised goals or objectives that include such things as:

  • % sales growth,
  • % profitability increase,
  • Become more competitive in existing markets,
  • Expand into new markets and regions.

There is nothing wrong with the list itself, in fact it’s a great list of what you might call goals, or key performance indicators (KPI’s) – however it’s certainly not a strategy, and won’t help you to ensure the long-term survival or prosperity of your organisation.

Rather than focusing on a narrow set of KPI’s and developing solutions that feed those metrics, stand back and take a broader, more holistic view of the competitive arena and organisational situation.

1. Identify which stakeholders you depend on for success.

Set time aside to identify the stakeholders (customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders etc) who are key to the long-term survival and success of your company. Without them, you have no organisation. So ensuring you satisfy them is crucial to your continued success.

2. Recognise what you want from your stakeholders.

Rather than launching straight into what you need to do for stakeholders such as customers, employees, suppliers etc, it’s important to stop and consider first what you want from these stakeholders. Remember as an executive, board member or CEO, your obligation is to act in the best interests of your company.

By understanding what you want, you will be able to identify more easily your objectives. Ie if you’re looking for sales and revenue growth, then that is going to come from your customers, where as productivity and innovation, or customer service will come from your employees etc.

This process will allow you to design meaningful strategies to get what you need from each stakeholder group.

3. Recognise what your stakeholders want from you. 

 When managers and their teams go too quickly into problem solving mode, they make assumptions about what their stakeholders want. As a result they end up with products and services that don’t sell.

If you want to achieve a competitive advantage, you must understand those things that your stakeholders want from you – and excel at them. Which leads me to the final point.

 4. Deliver the things that your stakeholders want – differently.

 In order to create a competitive advantage, you will need to excel at delivering what your stakeholders want from you, AND do so in a way that is different from your competitors. Once you know what you will do differently, and why it is of value to your stakeholder you can clearly define your strategy and build your brand around it.

Some ways to determine your point of difference:

  • Evaluate your competition and rate yourself and your direct competitors based on operational efficiency (price), product leadership and customer intimacy.
  • Identify areas where your competition is vulnerable and determine whether you can focus on those vulnerable areas.
  • Identify your key strengths and how they can be enhanced.
  • Evaluate what you want to be ‘known for’ in the future and design a long-term strategy to achieve it.

 

Reference: A List of Goals is Not a Strategy by Graham Kenny, published in the Harvard Business Review, November 19, 2014.

 

04 Oct 2016

Trivial Changes Produce Trivial Results

Recently I’ve been running a number of War Games with some interesting outcomes. I thought you would enjoy learning more about this powerful business tool!

For your information, while the military hones its strategies with role-playing simulations, a War Game is a fabulous way to understand business competitors.

What Is a Business War Game?

War gaming is a role-playing simulation of a competitive marketplace used either for general management training and team building or as a tool to explore and test competitive strategies for a specific firm to discover any weaknesses in a plan and to identify possible consequences of adopting such a plan.

Teams of players take roles and simulate the dynamics of a marketplace over a period of time. The idea is for participants to gain a perspective of the marketplace from outside their own firm.

Why You Need To Play War Games

If you want to gain genuine competitive advantage, you’ve got to do important things better than your competitors. War Games help you build competitive advantage in the highest-leverage function of all: thinking better than your competitors. War Games are about anticipating competitive moves before your rivals make them.

A War Game is a structured strategic exercise.

War Games allow you to understand unexplored or unforeseen strategic options. Most important, a war game will demonstrate to you the implications of your decisions months or years ahead.

Business War Games are an unconventional management tool. We draw on a wide range of business disciplines, including marketing, competitive strategy, competitive intelligence, and market research. We also draw from non-traditional disciplines such as social psychology, creativity, and innovation. A War Game identifies shortcomings in conventional management thinking, and provides real alternatives that work.

Two types of war games can be run for a business

The first uses a generic business scenario to educate managers generally in the process of strategic decision-making. It will put the participants in a safe environment in which they can experiment with radical thinking and gain confidence in their own decision-making capacity. The experience will also promote team building among the participants.

The second type of war game is tailored to the needs of a particular firm, mirroring its competitive environment in the war game setup. This type of war game is used to facilitate the firm’s strategic planning process. It may be run early in the planning process to indicate strategic directions or, alternatively, it may be run after the strategic plan has been formulated to test it for weaknesses and check what affect it is likely to have on the marketplace. Participants in this type of war game will also gain experience, which will build their confidence in decision making, same as with the generic war game. Similarly, a firm-specific war game will act as a team-building exercise.

You should consider a War Game when you are faced with:

  • A threat from current competitors
  • Imminent entry of new rivals
  • Industry consolidation
  • Change in the external environment
  • A threat from a new technology or a similar discontinuity

 

Would you like to improve your strategies and outmaneuvre the competition? Please email me today with any questions or concerns. I am always happy to help.

05 Sep 2016

5 Work And Personal Habits To Start Now!

Every day you make choices. Those choices create your actions. Your actions become your habits. And your habits define your life.

Below are some wonderful suggestions to get you started in developing good habits in your daily life, and to kick start positive change. You can always start any day, any time, a new habit. After all each moment in your life is new.

Work

  • Turn off your phone after hours – or one day per week. Let the important people know what you are doing, and ways to contact you in an emergency.
  • Check your emails only twice daily and let people know this in your email signature. This is what I do!
  • Have a clear agenda for all meetings, and set a time frame, both of which you communicate to the other participants. Practice this, until it works for you.
  • Have all participants turn off their mobiles so the focus stays on the meeting.
  • Start having “walking meetings”, especially when discussing a difficult topic – you’d be surprised how much easier it is to walk and talk, and the effect it can have on your relationships.
  • Do not email first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Make first thing in the morning your productive time, and switch off at night for a better sleep. Plan your emails taking this into account.

Personal

  • Turn off your mobile phone when out with friends – and get your friends to do the same. The focus should be on your time together.
  • Say “no” when something doesn’t suit or you don’t have the time to commit. Do it thoughtfully and offer alternatives.
  • Spend 30 minutes a day doing something for you – walking, reading a book, listening to music, whatever makes you feel good. Let everyone else know this is your time and you are not to be disturbed.
  • Start a gratitude journal – and write three things per day that you are grateful for.
  • De-clutter your life: select one task a week and do it! Do a before and after review to be clear in your mind what you have achieved.

Do you have difficulty creating new habits and sticking with your goals? Click here to get a complimentary one-on-one coaching session. This is limited to the first 5 people who book.

01 Aug 2016

Win/Loss Analysis: A Powerful Tool to Drive Strategic Growth

Why did we lose?

It’s the first question you ask when business goes to a competitor. So… Are you really focused on improving your business, or do you simply move on and try again with the same sales approach and techniques?

Conducting win/loss analysis is one of the best ways of generating the insights you need to increase revenue and grow your business. So why aren’t you doing it?

Win/Loss Analysis (WLA) is a cost-effective, insightful, and ethical method for gathering and analyzing information about your market, customers, and competitors. WLA identifies your customer’s perceptions of specific sales situations and how you compare to your competitors. It provides a window as to why a customer is buying or not buying your products and/or services. The analysis provides information about the performance of both your firm and your competitors. The insights can then be actively used to focus sales staff more effectively in the marketplace and also to inform research and development of products.

The Benefits of WLA:

  • Understand why you win and lose business
  • Learn which clients are or are not good prospect
  • Focus on product features customers value most
  • Improve implementation, training and services
  • Improve quality of customer testimonials
  • Improve sales professionalism

 

TOP 7 QUESTIONS TO GET YOU STARTED

Answering these questions is the foundation to get the process moving in a fruitful direction.

1. What were the reasons we won/lost the last sales competition for… (a big client)?

2. Was our RFP response as effective as it could have been?

3. Are our prices truly non-competitive with our rivals? Or are other factors impacting client retention decisions?

4. How/ why can a rival keep beating us on bids for regional clients?

5. Are there opportunities to gain clients that we are not capitalizing on?

6. What operational changes do we need to make to better satisfy existing clients?

7. What changes can we make that will best empower our sales force in their daily efforts to win customers out in the field?

I have been involved with WLA since the mid 1990’s and have written about the subject since 2006. To this day, I do not understand why more companies aren’t conducting win/loss interviews, analyzing results and implementing lessons learned.

When WLA is done properly, companies gain valuable insights and are able to implement initiatives that helps them increase revenue and grow their business. It really is a win-win all around.

Interested in learning how to implement this tool, please give me a call or read this just released book by my dear friend Ellen Naylor dedicated to WLA. Check it out!

 

06 Jun 2016
Competitor Analysis

Understanding Your Competitors

In my experience, most companies and organisations tend to track what their competitors are currently doing. However you can’t really make a sound business decision about the future intentions of a competitor based on what has occurred in the past or on what they are currently doing. We all know that the way we operate today is not the same as how we operated a year ago – so why should a competitor be any different?

We need to uncover where they plan to go in the future.  Will you be taking sales from them or will they be taking sales from you – next quarter, next year or even two years from now?

To get a good grasp on your competitors’ real intentions, you need to delve a little more deeply.

SO HERE ARE SEVEN TIPS TO HELP YOU MONITOR YOUR COMPETITORS:

1. BUY THEIR PRODUCT
Always buy your competitor’s product, if possible, to determine their sales process and get on their mailing list to see future promotions. The relatively small price you pay for their product will pay for itself many times over in the knowledge you gain by finding out what they are doing and how they are doing it.

2. AUDIT THEIR WEBSITE
Drop by your competitors’ websites and compare their sites to your own. To go the extra mile, select Tools from the Microsoft Internet Explorer toolbar (if you are using Microsoft) and then “Show Related Links”. Here, you may uncover other companies, doing the same thing or in the same business. Changes to a website can also say a lot about a company. TimelyWeb, by EldoS (www.eldos.org), has several ways of notifying you when page changes occur, including via e-mail.

3. GET THEIR GOSSIP FROM YOUR SALES PEOPLE, DISCUSSION GROUPS, ETC.
Numerous discussion groups are the bars and pubs of the internet, where individuals meet online by sending emails to like-minded people. One of the popular ways to hunt through newsgroups is with Google Groups. Simply type in the subject you are interested in to sort through the web’s 20,000 Usenet discussion groups.  LinkedIn is also pretty good.  And remember to speak to your sales people, customers, distributors, suppliers, industry consultants, industry associations, journalists – to just name a few.

4. CHECK OUT THE CLASSIFIEDS
Is your competitor expanding? Is he or she going in a new direction? You might get a clue through help-wanted advertising. These listings can tell you more about what your competitor is planning.

5. READ UP ON PLANS AND FINANCES
Drop by your industry association’s Internet site. You may find additional information about a member who is your competitor. Perhaps they were interviewed for the association’s website or publication. If your competitor is a large publicly listed organisation, it is required under Australian law to file quarterly and annual financial reports and announce any activities that are likely to be of investor interest (that is have an influence on the share price).

6. ENGAGE A MONITORING SERVICE
By paying for an online monitoring service, such as eWatch, you can outsource the hassle of monitoring domain names, URLs, newsgroups, and websites for activity by your competitors. However, it will cost. Most online companies offer free trials so you can compare them before you commit. Clipping services, such as Media Monitors, provide a daily fax-stream of articles on chosen companies (or search terms).

7. HIRE A ‘BIG GUN’
With so much information available, competitive intelligence consultancies can help a company define what information will genuinely assist their business objectives. They can provide strategies to help a company collect, monitor and, most importantly, analyse information to deliver the necessary insights/intelligence.

Understanding what your competitors intend to do in your market is not hard.  It may cost you time, effort and budget in the first instance…….or you could compare that cost to potential market share loss, sales lost and customer shrinkage.  Can you afford not to understand your competitors?

03 May 2016
But And

Yes… AND?

But AndI came across a wonderful suggestion recently from my friend and colleague Leanne Buttrose. I asked her to write a little note about this.

Thought you would enjoy it as our Monthly Monday Motivation for May.

“How to change your energy and everyone around you by changing one little word!

In the year 2000 I was introduced to a simple and yet incredibly powerful change in my life.  I removed the word “BUT” from my vocabulary. At the time when I learned this, I didn’t realise what this change would mean to me, and literally hundreds of people I have shared this concept with.

The greatest challenge was to not replace it with a “but” in disguise.  We know these words as – however, although, nonetheless –  just to begin with.  You would know many others I’m sure.

“But” simply means; everything I said before this word is null and void. For example, the party was great but the food could have been better.  So was the party great or not?

I found I became very conscious of my sentences and that “but” was my way to buy time and think.  It was what I used instead of a pause or full stop in a conversation or when presenting.

The most profound discovery was in my written words.  I used “but” in emails, documents and papers and it gave them a negative overtone when that was not my intention. I used it in sales pitches and PowerPoint presentations when trying to make a point. I was a “but-aholic”!

So how did I change this?  I replaced the word “but” with “and”. While at first it felt grammatically incorrect, it forced me to stop and think about why I even wanted to say the word.

I found in conversations I started to pause, think and then continue without using the word.  In written communication, it forced me to rethink the whole sentence because when you remove the use of ‘but’ you often have to phrase the entire sentence very differently.

Here’s an example” I’m sorry I didn’t finish the report, but I received your email too late.”

Instead you might say: “I’m sorry I didn’t finish the report. I received your email too late, and I will do my best to finalise it by the end of this week.”

Leaders that I have shared this with now write their messages to their customers and staff coming from the “Yes… and” perspective. They have found it easier to create a more positive energy through their communications.”

WOW! To think removing just three little letters from our vocabulary can hold that much wonderful power.

A great way to make sure you’re following “Yes… and” is to exercise self-awareness.  Self-awareness is the secret weapon for lasting habit change.