Crazy Busy or Just Crazy?

Here is a wonderful letter and answer from my friend Dr. Sylvia LaFair giving advice on how to achieve a healthy balance. Maybe there is an answer there for you too.

Dear Dr. Sylvia,

It’s summer and all the ads show people sipping lovely drinks at a pool or beach. Except me. Now, I shouldn’t complain. Life is good when you are busy? Right?

It’s just that I am over-scheduled, over-committed and overextended.

I am proud that so many people want so much from me. And yet, I am desperate to get some down time.

Now, don’t tell me to just stop and smell the roses. Actually, I have allergies so I would then just sneeze my head off.

What I need from you is a strategy that will go with my busy lifestyle. I need some kind words from you to tell me that life without stopping is normal and really a good thing. I need you to tell my wife and kids to leave me alone, that I am making the money so they can sit by the pool and sip lovely drinks.

I need you to tell me to keep doing what I am doing because it is the right way in business these days.

Can you please reinforce my crazy busy life model as a good one?

Signed,

Pooped

Dear Pooped,

You, sir, are on INTERACTION OVERLOAD. And the signs of this are to be both filled with pride and desperation at the same time.

The only thing I can do to be helpful is to give you the results of research that will prove you are truly crazy by being so busy!

Look, we are built to both spend and then renew our energy. Think of a pitcher full of clear lovely water. It is meant to be used and used up. Then when the pitcher is empty it needs to be refilled to replenish us with what is needed for growth and health.

Here is my BIG QUESTION for you: when you are left alone with your thoughts in a quiet time what do you think about?

For so many crazy, busy individuals there is a mighty fear about reflection and solitude. The fear is that what we will bump up against is the deeper, negative feelings we so often push away with work and food and all the other addictions that abound.

Here’s the bad news, dear pooped. Suppressing negative feelings only gives them more power. Get busier and busier to avoid them. I think that may be what you and millions of others are doing. These feelings are like stuck plumbing (funny you named yourself ‘pooped’) and sooner or later they will build up so much muck they will eventually spill over and create a huge mess.

Better learn to live with yourself, with the solitude, with reflection time, with memories.

Mindfulness to the rescue. Learn to meditate and my dear friend Chade-Meng Tan has written a marvelous book to help you learn to look inside yourself, titled Joy On Demand.

Meng could have become a crazy busy guy, since he was one of the first engineers at Google. Instead he learned about balance and meditation and mindfulness, and he shares his wisdom with all of us.

And here is one more thought. If you are worried about some awful thing happening when you take time to be still, not to worry. Research by Kerri Smith in Nature magazine states that even in a do-nothing state the brain is still active. It is completing the task of integrating and processing your experiences.

So, take a break and let your brain do the work while you relax.

Best,

Sylvia

 

10 Steps To Seize Control of Your Life

Are you feeling that your life is spiralling out of control? Not sure how to get yourself back in control.

Listen to my podcast where I share 10 practical steps to help you get yourself back on track. 

10 Reminders To Live In The Now

1. Remember that habits are changed by practicing new behaviour. By practising new thinking every five minutes, you’ll soon began to master the art of present-moment living.

2. Do an honest assessment of your “problems”.
You’ll very likely discover that almost all your problems are really in your head and not located in reality.

3. Take time to be mindful of everything around you. Begin to look at your entire surroundings in a new light. Observe every detail on every face, every building and every project. If you do this often it will become a habit that will facilitate your being alive in every moment of the year.  

4. Change your attitude. Begin an attitude-redevelopment plan. That means practice enjoying everything you do.

5. Be specific about what you want and take action. Decide on one thing you would like to work on and do it today. Work at it daily, rather than making it a long-range objective.

6. Create a self-improvement agenda for yourself. Put on your agenda whatever activities you’ve always thought about but never had time to do. Do them now.

7. Rid yourself of mundane chores that are not really that important. Spend more time making your life a pleasure.

8. Eliminate procrastination as a lifestyle. Instead of talking to yourself about what you are going to do next week or even tomorrow, use this time to start a new task.

9. Don’t give up control of your life to others. You cannot enjoy the present moment if you are busy trying to make everyone else like you. People respect you more when you operate from a position of strength and self-reliance.

10. Feel good about yourself. You are a magnificent human being. Always feel good about that self that you are always with.

Source: Adapted from Hay House – Dr Wayne Dyer newsletter, 3rd January 2017

What Causes Job Burnout?

According to the Mayo Clinic job burnout can result from various factors, including: 

  • Lack of control. An inability to influence decisions that affect your job – such as your schedule, assignments or workload – could lead to job burnout. So could a lack of the resources you need to do your work.
  • Unclear job expectations. If you’re unclear about the degree of authority you have or what your supervisor or others expect from you, you’re not likely to feel comfortable at work.
  • Dysfunctional workplace dynamics. Perhaps you work with an office bully, you feel undermined by colleagues or your boss micromanages your work. These and related situations can contribute to job stress. 
  • Mismatch in values. If your values differ from the way your employer does business or handles grievances, the mismatch may eventually take a toll.
  • Poor job fit. If your job doesn’t fit your interests and skills, it may become increasingly stressful over time. 
  • Extremes of activity. When a job is always monotonous or chaotic, you need constant energy to remain focused – which can lead to fatigue and job burnout.
  • Lack of social support. If you feel isolated at work and in your personal life, you may feel more stressed. 
  • Work-life imbalance. If your work takes up so much of your time and effort that you don’t have the energy to spend time with your family and friends, you may burn out very quickly.

Can you relate to any of the above? Take action now and seek support before your health and relationships are affected. Remember, you have the power of choice, and it is your choices that will lead you out of situations that lead to burnout.

Job burnout is not to be handled lightly. To help turn things around, I’m offering the opportunity of an initial free 30 minute session where we can identify how to take control of your life and work towards a healthy and positive future.

CLICK HERE NOW!

This one off is only for my subscribers and valid until the 15th April 2017. 

Who Is Your Competition?

This question seems so simple however a company that defines its competitive set too narrolwly can miss disruptive attackers and high potential growth opportunities.  Just take a look at Blockbuster, Nokai and Kodak.  They were all market leaders who fell pray to either disruptive technology or market changes.  How can your company avoid a similar fate?

Let me guide you:

1. Define your target/objective

Far too often, organizations make decisions too quickly and without a strategic context — it is a case of ‘ready, fire, aim’ The internet has not helped this mindset, as the speed to market has become a more critical factor. Understand what you are looking to maximise.

2. Ask the right question or questions

Experience has shown that ‘asking the right question’ is one of the hardest steps for management.  The key here is to understand what your business really wants, and how the insights uncovered will directly relate to a management decision or course of action.

3. Manage information effectively

The next driver for understanding what you have and don’t have within the business needs to come from studying the forces at work on your business’s competitive ability. These forces include competitors, technology, consumers, new entrants, industry trends and so on.  Getting information on these forces is the first step in becoming knowledgeable about your competitive environment.

4. Analyse for insight and intelligence

A strategic plan that doesn’t include insight about the near future is truly next to useless. Yesterday’s information and methods are increasingly ineffective for making today’s decisions — and even less effective for identifying tomorrow’s opportunities, problems and unknown competitors.

The value of insight is early awareness, as it enables you to recognise and monitor the future as it unfolds, thereby reducing risk and minimising mistakes.

Today, managers are faced with many pressures — they may sometimes seek only short-term gains — but costly mistakes from managers making uninformed decisions are no longer an option.

 Today, competing effectively is not just understanding existing competitors and the current business environment.  It is strategically about having a picture of what the future business environment will look like and addressing the following questions:

 

  • What business are you in today?
  • How will new technology affect you and your customers?
  • What new opportunities does the disruption open up?
  • What capabilities do you need to realise these opportunities?
  • What are you doing to protect your business performance when new and sometime unusual competitors are just now a click away?
  • Are you aware of the external changes that are going to take place in your industry and how it will affect the business’s performance?

 

How your business prepares this future will provide you with either a strategic advantage — or the demise of your business. The most critical strategic issue for a business is its competitiveness.

Looking for a mentor in strategy and competition for you business or division?  Give us a call (02) 9411 3900 or have a look at some of the projects we have worked on here.

Understanding Millenials In The Worplace

Do you work with Millenials? This is one of the most insightful video we, at MindShifts,  have seen on this topic. We had to share it with you.

 

INSTEAD OF RESOLUTIONS

Here are 8 thought provoking questions as you start the new year:

1. What am I doing when I feel most beautiful, or when I have been at my best?

2.  What is something you believe that almost nobody agrees with you on? (This is very tough question as originality is deceptively hard).

3. What are your superpowers? (tip – understand your strengths!)

4. What are you willing to try now that is new or different?

5. Say 10-30 years from now and looking back on your career, what do you want to say you have accomplished?

6. What would you include on your list of hoped for achievements?

7. In the next couple of years, what would you have eliminated off your bucket list?

8. What is your sentence?

Adapted from: Berger, W., “Find Your Passion with these 8 Thought-provoking Questions”, www.fastcompany.com, April 14, 2014

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.

Need To Overcome Negative Thoughts?

Here we are rushing to the end of another year – only 5 weeks to Christmas – and you may be questioning where has the year gone and what is going on in the world. So much change, so much to keep up with!

All this may be overwhelming and it may start to drag you down. You could start to feel sorry for yourself, or maybe you are worrying more, or questioning ‘what’s the point?’ On reflection, maybe you didn’t achieve what you wanted to in 2016 and maybe the world news are just putting you in a funk!

Negative thoughts can be toxic, can build up and quickly make us feel depressed, sad, lost and sometimes hopeless.

Here are a number of suggestions to overcome negative thoughts, which might help you move to a more positive frame of mind in readiness for the end of the 2016:

1. In every situation there is a silver lining – Ask yourself what is the one good thing you can identify in this negative situation? What is the one thing you could learn from this?

2. Replace the negativity in your life – What are the 3 top sources of negativity in your life right now? What can you change about these 3 sources? It is OK to take small steps when dealing with this. Alternatively you can keep reminding yourself of tip No 1.

3. Talk to someone – keeping negative thoughts bottled up is not helpful. Find someone you can share or vent with. And then see if you can together find a more positive approach to relieving the negative thoughts to move forward.

4. Are you making a mountain out of a molehill? – think through the negative thought. Are you making the issue bigger than necessary? Think would it matter in 3 or 5 years? What about next month? What would a friend or family member say? When we focus on a problem or issue, it becomes all encompassing and it no longer is in perspective. Asking yourself whether the issue is really in perspective is an important way ot manage negative thinking.

5. Be grateful for what you do have – this is my favourite No. 1 negative squasher! List what you have to be grateful for and remind yourself of these things for a week. Grow the list if you can every day.

6. What about going for some exercise? – Endorphins are a wonderful recharger. When you exercise, you body releases chemicals call endorphins, which interact with the receptors in your brain. These trigger a positive feeling in the body and improved self-esteem, providing a more positive and energized outlook on life.

7. Pay it forward – If you want to feel positive then bring positivity into someone else’s life. Do an act of kindness and/or generosity; give a compliment; help out, etc. By adding positivity to someone else’s life, you too can start to feel better and more optimistic again.

8. Start tomorrow with a positive tone – set yourself a reminder the night before of a positive action you are going to take the following day. Make sure you can see it clearly the moment you wake up. Repeat it to yourself a couple of times during the day if you want.  Savour it!

Each of these will help take those negative thoughts away. Give it a go – what have you got to loose??

Let me know which ones you think help you the most. If you want to talk about it more, give me a call.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

Get Your Free ‘Power of Choice’ Template!

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

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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.

 

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.

What To Do When You have To Work With Someone You Don’t Like

You’re not alone!

Most of us at some point in time have to work or collaborate with someone we can’t stand.  A wonderful article by Peter Bregman was recently published in the Harvard Business Review on this very topic and I really liked the insights he provided to guide anyone on improving working relationship.

  • Accept that you are not going to like everyone.

It’s inevitable you will encounter difficult people who oppose what you think, believe and feel. Conflicts or disagreements are a result of differences in values.

That person you don’t like is not intrinsically a bad human. The reason you don’t get along is because you have different values, and that difference creates judgment. Remember not everyone is like you. If you can accept that not everyone will like you, and you won’t like everyone, then this realisation can take a lot of the heavy emotion out of the situation.

  •  Turn inwards and focus on yourself

It’s important that you learn how to handle your frustration when dealing with someone who annoys you. Instead of thinking about how irritating that person is, focus on why you are reacting the way you are. Sometimes what we don’t like in others is frequently what we can’t stand in ourselves.

Recognise the triggers that might be complicating your feelings. You may then be able to anticipate, soften, or even alter your reaction. Remember: it’s easier to change your perceptions, attitude, and behaviour than to ask someone to be a different kind of person.

  •  Check your own expectations

It’s not uncommon for people to have unrealistic expectations about others. We may expect others to act exactly as we would, or say the things that we might say in a certain situation. However, that’s not realistic. Expecting others to do as you would do is setting yourself up for disappointment and frustration.

If a person causes you to feel exactly the same way every time, check your expectations and adjust appropriately.

  •  Be compassionate with yourself

And remember: “Being compassionate with yourself is the key to being compassionate with others”

When you give yourself unconditional love, compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance, you’re then able to give that to others.

Want to read the full article here

 

 

10 Ways To Have Better Conversation

When your job hinges on how well you talk to people, you learn a lot about how to have good conversations. Celeste Headlee has worked as a radio host for decades, and she knows the ingredients of a great conversation: Honesty, brevity, clarity and a healthy amount of listening. In this insightful talk, she shares 10 useful rules for having better conversations. “Go out, talk to people, listen to people,” she says. “And, most importantly, be prepared to be amazed.” Watch this delightful video below and I hope you have better conversations.

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.

Top 3 Barriers To Growth

When I came across the results of this survey I did not know whether to cry or laugh. Instead I remembered a saying my father used to say: “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” And stay the same they have. These results are similar to survey results I had over 20 years ago. What am I talking about?

Held in conjunction with ‘AccountantsDaily’ earlier this year, My Business surveyed over 647 SMEs across Australia to get their take on what they saw as growth barriers to their businesses. Most (58%) said that they have been operating their businesses for 11+ years. We can say then that these businesses have been around a while.

So what were the top three barriers?

 1. Attracting new Customers – 34.2%

2. Availability of skilled staff or experienced managers – 14.9%

3. Competition – 10.5%

Each of these relates to the market or competitive environment. None of these are internal issues. If nearly 60% of your growth barriers are external why is it that business executives are so internally focused?

What does this say about the quality of strategic planning, marketplace knowledge and competitive thinking? Want to lower your barriers to growth? Then take the time to understand your competitive environment. Or you could give us a call.

 

 

 

Coping With Ambiguity

A wonderful article about Competitive Intelligence by my friend and colleague Ben Gilad & Magnus Hoppe was published recently in the Harvard Business Review. Here is a brief overview of the article.

While mistakes allow individuals to learn and grow, they can also be very costly to any company. You may recall the Maggi’s Noodle Crisis in 2015 in India, which resulted in a loss of $277 million in sales, a five-month ban on Maggi and a cost of $70 million in the recall. The damage to the brand name was even larger – half a billion dollars. Paul Buckle, Nestle’s CEO, was quoted by Fortune as saying, “This is the case where you can be so right and yet so wrong… We live in an ambiguous world. We have to be able to cope with that.”

Nestle was not able to cope with that – but a competitor was.

Baba Ramdev, owner of the fastest growing local consumer goods company in India, took advantage of Nestle’s mistake by launching a product advertised as ‘healthier’ and at a lower price point than Maggi.

The really frustrating thing about the story above, is that so few companies learn from such mistakes.

So what can you do to avoid similar mistakes in the future?

According to Gilad and Hoppe, “we must start to think differently about how business, management, and strategic intelligence works. What companies today need isn’t meticulous plans, but to constantly reassess the business and its markets and competitors.“

How often do you reassess your business environment? How can different areas of management work together on creating insights that have real competitive implications?

Below are four radical changes that will get the ball rolling for you:

 

  1. Manage talent differently – recruit different mindsets. Self-hiring is indeed most dangerous in an ambiguous world.
  2. Use competitive intelligence differently – think of it as a process for organisational thinking to outsmart competitors in an ambiguous world.
  3. Work together – with decision makers for better outcomes
  4. Study personal use of intelligence – understand how intelligence is used to enhance organizational learning

Want to read the full article: https://hbr.org/2016/06/the-right-way-to-use-analytics-isnt-for-planning

How are you coping with ambiguity?

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!

 

The High Costs of Wrong Decisions

We know that companies who place a greater emphasis on information content in their business decisions will be those that face fewer surprises. In fact, getting the right information will be a key success factor for companies in the 21st century.

So why do so many businesses shy away from investing in some research about a new product idea, an acquisition, or business expansion opportunity, but will happily plunge ahead with a scheme and rack up million dollar losses when it turns out to be a dud! Why is it that so many companies keep making costly mistakes?
Read more

Does collecting more data lead to better decision-making?

Competitive, data-savvy companies like Amazon, Google and Netflix have learned that data analysis alone doesn’t always produce optimum results. In this talk, data scientist Sebastian Wernicke breaks down what goes wrong when we make decisions based purely on data — and suggests a brainier way to use it. This wonderful video addresses the difference between successful decision-making and unsuccessful decision-making —  with data. I highly recommend this video.

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?

Simplify Your Strategy

Understanding Strategy

Strategy is the domain of leaders and getting everyone on board is a critical element for strategic success. However for a strategy to influence action, it must be remembered. To be remembered, it must be understood, To be understood a strategy must be simple. This wonderful video addresses how to simply strategy.

Donald Dull from Harvard  poses three questions to break down complex strategies in actionable steps. I highly recommend this video.

Energy Leadership

What is Energy Leadership?

Energy LeadershipEnergy Leadership™is the process that develops a personally effective style of leadership that positively influences and changes not only yourself, but also those with whom you work and interact, as well as your organization as a whole.

As individuals, we view the world through filters (based on our experiences, values, assumptions, etc.). Those filters will either limit what we see or expand what we see. As a result, they impact how we perceive and what we think about our circumstances. Throughout our whole life, we’ve unconsciously developed filters, which may be holding us back from seeing the full potential of ourselves and what our life and career have to offer.

Leadership: EVERYONE is a leader either by choice or default.

Leadership is how you interact with everyone, including yourself. Leaders are quite visible within small and large businesses. We tend to think of them as business owners, CEO’s and managers at all levels. Traditionally, leadership also extends into politics and other global affairs. However, parents, therapists and health care providers, solopreneurs, sports coaches, consultants, mentors, partners in relationship, teachers, authors, and others who interact with people on a regular basis are all leaders.

If we don’t think of yourself as a leader, then you are limited in your thinking. Leading is the way we help move people into action, including us. The question is not whether or not we are leaders, but how well we lead.

Energy – The Two Streams In Life – Which One Do You Swim In? 

A relentlessly damaging stream is flowing through the world. This stream is not created by water, but by fear. It is the Stream of Unconsciousness.

Its constructive counterpart, the Stream of Consciousness, flows through only a few of the world’s homes and organizations and is fed by creative and positive thinking that produces questions like “What’s right,” “What’s the opportunity here,” and “How can we make this work?” In contrast, the Stream of Unconsciousness is based on only one question: “What’s wrong?” This stream is the one most of us have been trained to see, listen to, drink from, and bathe in since birth.

During any typical workday, most people spend a great deal of time focusing on what’s wrong — with their family, their jobs, their projects, their colleagues, their relationships, and their lives. At work, it’s not surprising that studies show that more than 50 per cent of the people in a nation’s workforce would choose, if they could, to quit their jobs.

What will it take to shift the pressure and negativity that surrounds not only our careers but our personal lives and the state of our communities?  What will help employees to be productive, content, and have a positive view of both the organizations they work for and the people they work with?

Catabolic and Anabolic Energy: The Two Forces That Create Your World 

More than a hundred years ago, Albert Einstein addressed the scientific community, passionately presenting the idea that everything we see, hear, taste, touch, and smell is not matter, but energy.  Everything that “matters” is energy.

On an energetic and cellular level, catabolism usually refers to a breakdown of complex molecules, while anabolism is the opposite.  When you hear about a person’s catabolic or anabolic energy, however, it’s a broader statement about destructive and constructive forces in an entire person, who is made up not only of individual cells but also of anabolic and catabolic thoughts and beliefs.

Anabolic and Catabolic energy are predominant in organizations as well as people.  Many organizations experience catabolic energy by constantly reacting to their circumstances with worry, fear, doubt, anger, and guilt.  And thoughts are indeed contagious.  When even a few people in an organization have negative feelings, it can spread like a virus. “Group think” sets in, and their thoughts become group “fact.”  Once that occurs, the company can implode energetically in a swirl of gossip, negativity, conflict and contempt.

Remember that “group think” begins with “leader think”. At its core, an organization strongly reflects how its leader thinks, feels, and acts.

Anabolic leaders have the ability to motivate and inspire themselves and others to do extraordinary things.  They have the ability to make energetic shifts in all levels of the organization.  The most successful organizations are those that are filled with powerful, positive, anabolic leaders, and that means everyone in the organization, not just the “ones at the top.”  No matter how effective or ineffective you currently are in your role, you can transform yourself and others, as well as your organization, into a thriving, inspired, positive, productive, and successful entity. And, thus begins your journey to become the Ideal Leader.

The Energy Leadership Index (E.L.I.) is a unique assessment that enables participants to get a snapshot of their perceptions, attitudes, behaviours, and overall leadership capabilities. The Energy Leadership Index assessment reveals what specific filters you’ve developed and how those filters are influencing the results you’re achieving.

In a way, it’s a snapshot of you, and how you show up in the world. It shows the effects of stress on your performance and targets areas where you can shift your energy to be more successful.

 Key benefits

  • Increase self perception
  • Identify areas for growth
  • Create a roadmap for change
  • Identify and work through blocks to achieve results
  • Understand how to reduce your stress

 Want to learn more, email me at Babette@52.62.165.177 or give me a call on (02) 9411-3900

Article adopted from © IPEC, www.ipeccoaching.com

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. 

How well do you influence?

To influence is an art that has been lost in the volume of information that people are swamped with today. As we are all aware, information is readily available in overwhelming volumes – through the media, the internet and social media networking. One of the biggest hindrances to success is all about persuading the people you wish to influence. Even the best business proposal will not gain traction if you are unable to influence or persuade your target. The important thing is influence and not just inform. Following are five prongs of persuasion:
  • Words: Express yourself with positive, specific and precise words. Don’t use negative, vague words.
  • Rhetoric: Use rhetoric to get your message across, include powerful messaging and use memorable phrasing.
  • Emotion: Draw on emotions to get your message across. Create feelings such as pleasure, fear, safety, acceptance, and prestige. Decisions are based on emotions.
  • Logic: People need to justify their emotional decisions with reason. Help to interpret the facts, information and ideas that are available. Take a point of view. Lead others to draw  conclusions.
  • Trustworthiness: Demonstrate your integrity. People need to trust your personal values and genuineness before they’ll believe what you say.

Information floods the airwaves, the internet, and our in-boxes. And with that influx, influence has become rare. Yet channelled toward a goal, influence – not simply information – drives action and results.

Obsessing About Your Competitors is a Rookie Move

Competition-Fine-Line-Between-Healthy-Interest-And-Obsession-720x340Startups and small businesses are at greater risk for competitive failure than large businesses. They have no “fat” to cushion a competitive threat or to recover from a serious blunder. Entrepreneurs (especially early-stage ones) need to take the competition seriously.

For starters, I am not YFS (Young, Fabulous & Self-Employed). I am OCS (Old, Cranky & Self-employed).

My entrepreneurial venture has been successful for 26 years now. In the world of small business, this is close to an eternity. And being at this juncture, I hate to see entrepreneurs fail simply because they didn’t pay the right type of attention to competition. If I save one business owner from going under because he or she didn’t ask the right questions, it was worth writing this article.

Many entrepreneurs are bad at competitive intelligence
My business is dedicated to teaching managers and executives about competitive intelligence which is the method by which companies unmask opportunities and threats in the market. Through the years I have trained thousands of business people in the world’s most successful companies. I’ve also seen entrepreneurs cherish being first to market with their brilliant idea or product, but forgetting that first move advantage is not enough. It happened to me too. After almost a decade of glorious loneliness at the top, competition entered my space as well. I actually trained my own competitors!

C’est la vie
.

Do I keep a 30,000 feet overview of what’s happening in my competitive space? You bet. Do I follow those competitors closely, analyze traffic on their websites, compare their products, prices, keywords, AdWords, page load time, linking roots domain, changing text, quality of photos, mobile optimization, or zillion other minutia to mine, and obsess over social network chats about them and us?

Not for one minute
.

The pundits’ advice is often bad advice
Go on LinkedIn, and a horde of consultants advise entrepreneurs to keep a close eye on competitors by watching social media like a hawk, tracking competitors’ online moves, analyzing site traffic patterns, and many other magical tricks.

This is simply bad advice.

If you want to stay in business, you can’t obsess about competitors.

Knowing what to look for, what is crucial, and what to ignore as a waste of time and resources. Web intelligence and web analytics are not competitive intelligence. Not by a mile. It’s a toy that makes it easy to “spy” on competitors, right from your desk, compiling tons of useless data.

If you are serious about your company’s long-term success, you don’t want to bring a toy gun to a real gun fight.

The real competitive questions worth asking
Real competitive intelligence answers the following very hard questions:

  • What do I offer that’s unique and who can truly benefit?
  • What are the activities that are crucial to this uniqueness? Which are the strongest links in delivering the offering? Who or what pose the real competitive threat to you?
  • How do I stop competitors from imitating quickly?
  • What are the strategic risks and opportunities opening up for us as the market changes?

The problem with relying heavily on web analytics and other online intelligence tools is that they replace strategic thinking with hyped up statistics or meaningless noise. This is a sure way to lose sight of the competition.

Internet trolling and social media obsession haven’t delivered one iota of better performance to anyone but the vendors supplying the tools.

For professionals like us who’ve been analyzing competition for decades for the Fortune 500, the hype surrounding web intelligence tools borders on the hilarious; its serious consequences, however, can lead to your company’s early demise.

Best advice ever: never follow competitors
Best advice #1: Never follow competitors.

Competitive intelligence is about competing, not chasing the tail of your competition, direct or indirect. Sometime, the best way to compete is actually to ignore competitors. That’s why Harvard Business School never succumbed to the wave of MOOCs free courses and cheap online education. The bankruptcy of now-defunct for-profit education chain Corinthian College is testament to the value of competitive perspective over foolishly following others.

Best advice # 2: A channel is just a channel.

Never forget that your company website is just a channel. What will make you win is what you offer on it and who needs it. If you don’t fill a real need you’d disappear, together with your fast-loading, button-happy, feature-rich mobile site with all the right SEO-grabbing keywords in place, state of the art technology just like everyone else.

Digital marketing is not strategic insight. Continuous alertness to possible market evolution requires the discipline to say “No!”
 That’s where strategic minds win.

Technology, anyone?

There are dozens of companies today offering free or low-cost subscription web intelligence services (e.g., Alexa, Compete, HitWise, Google Trends, SimilarWeb and Tregia are just a small sample). Any of them a clear winner over the others? The same companies that allow you to “spy” on your competitors’ traffic and analyze their data to death can’t even win their own competitive race.

Technology is not a substitute for strategy
Best advice #3: Tech is no substitute for thinking.

This is the the third lesson I teach my high tech startup audience. If you are ready for hard work, it is worth it.

The realm of competitive intelligence is the realm of “standing out.”
 
 Do not obsess over competitors’ minutia. Obsesses over your strategy and its underlying competitive perspective. It is a magnitude harder than collecting web noise, but it will pay off if you get into the habit of answering strategic questions with real competitive intelligence.

Leave web analytics for the kids who get excited with toy guns. Don’t be young, foolish and self-employed.

This article has been edited and condensed.

Benjamin Gilad is the co-founder and president of the FGH-Academy of Competitive Intelligence, the leading institution that pioneered the training and certification of competitive intelligence professionals (CIP™) world-wide. He is a former
 strategy professor at Rutgers University’s School of Management, and author of three books on competitive intelligence’s role in companies’ success.