|Strategic Planning Information|
Benefiting from Strategic Thinking
I recently took an organizational behavior class where my professor conducted a strategic thinking exercise in which groups of students were to be a part of a scholarship committee. The purpose of our committee was to use strategic thinking on allocating a scholarship budget to reward several incoming freshmen to our university. I, along with some classmates represented freshmen candidates who would receive the scholarship.
These candidates all had different strengths that would live up to the standards and reputation of the university. For example, my candidate was a high school senior who would not be able to attend college without a scholarship. Her strength was found through music and should she receive a scholarship to the university, she would contribute to the school's music program. Another candidate was a gifted athlete who would be an asset to the school's basketball team. A third candidate was an intellect who would thrive in the academic realm. Moreover, my argument on why my candidate deserved the scholarship was among competing arguments from classmates who wanted the same for their candidates.
We had a few options to consider:
After hearing each representative make their case about the needs of their candidate, a few classmates pulled out of the debate because they felt their student did not need the money as much as others. One classmate stated that his student came from a financially stable household and that the lack of funds would not keep him from going to college. Another classmate mentioned that her student had the time to get a part-time job and would be okay without scholarship money. With strategic thinking among the committee members, we were able to figure out how everyone would benefit from the situation. Our committee's final consensus left two students without scholarship money, but benefited three recipients with a part of the scholarship money, based on their needs and accomplishments.
Strategic thinking involved a group effort of brainstorming ideas, initiating change, and finding solutions to our dilemma. With our strategic thinking process, we were able to effectively factor in the highest priorities of our candidates.
If you would like to learn more about CMOE's Applied Strategic Thinking Workshop, contact one of their Regional Managers at (801) 569-3444.
TQM Total Quality Management, the book
Every decade we seem to come up with a buzz-word to describe the things we should be doing right all the time. Forever we have heard our parents or grandparents use little phrases to get our attention. "If it is worth doing, it is worth doing right? Or "Never enough time to do it right, but always making time to do it over." Quick quotes like these and there must be a hundreds of different ones which all lead to the same thing. In the 1980's and early 1990's it was TQM or Total Quality Management. Deming and Peters harped on this like there was no tomorrow. Then later on we had the Six Sigma by GE and the Jack Welsh crowd of executives and remember the ISO 9000 series of quality and perfection. Now then let's get back to; TQM Total Quality Management, the book. If you have not read it, then you should because you can buy it at any garage sale for $1.00 or at a used book store for $4-5 dollars. Amazon has tons of used ones for sale as well. Make sure you buy the right book, as there must be 100 or more books on that subject:
Abstract thought on Business Strategy and Nature
Here is an abstract thought on studying nature and the natural order of things; things which work to help you better understand and strategize in business, war, sports or military operations. Let's compare the methods of distribution of organic viruses to all other more obvious distribution methods.
Planning For The Slow Season Of Your Business To Increase Sales
Every business experiences slower periods. For some, they sell more during the Christmas season while others move at a snail pace. Some sell more during the summer and others less. The key is being aware of your seasons and alternatives available to solve the challenge and change the results.
Elite Positioning Brings Higher Profits
Imagine spending the same amount of money on marketing and performing the same amount of work to deliver your products or services, but earning more money and keeping more after your expenses. That's what happens when you institute elite positioning for your business.
How Copying the HBO Schedule Can Boost Your Business
I'm not talking about posting the HBO schedule on your website or sending a Xeroxed copy around to all your customers. When HBO came onto the scene they were innovative, fresh, and willing to do things other people were not.
Mastermind Your Way to Success
What do Mark Victor Hansen, Robert Allen, Anthony Robbins, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Ben Franklin have in common?
Business Plan Descriptions of Computer System
Entrepreneurs often give little if any consideration to their computer system needs in their original business plans. It is a necessity to have mention of your computer system as bankers and/or investors will want to know how you will keep track of your future endeavor. You need to carefully spell out your needs and their costs to insure you are asking for the right amount of money for your new project and to insure that you know what you need in advance. All too often entrepreneurs are not completely sure of what is needed and then when they see what is available they want it, this adds costs. Then comes the customization and feature creep as high paid programmers design the modifications.
How to Develop a Successful Board of Advisors (...and Why You Should!)
In today's rapidly changing and highly competitive markets, many privately held companies are creating outside advisory boards to give owners and CEOs fresh, knowledgeable advice. Even for small businesses, setting up an advisory board can give you a significant advantage over competitors that are relying solely on internal talent. An experienced and well-connected board of advisors can help your business grow and prosper in ways you've never imagined. What is a Board of Advisors? An advisory board is an outside group that is informally organized to provide business owners and corporate leaders with support, advice and assistance. While formal boards of directors have legally defined responsibilities and fiduciary duties, advisory boards have no formal power or binding legal authority. They serve at the pleasure of the business owner or CEO. Benefits of an Advisory Board There are several advantages that companies with advisory boards have over their competition. A board offers your business: An unbiased outside perspective. Increased corporate accountability and discipline. Enhanced CEO and management effectiveness. Greater credibility with investors, vendors and customers. Help in avoiding costly mistakes. Rounding out skills and expertise lacking in current management team. A sounding board for evaluating new business ideas and opportunities. Enhanced community and public relations. Improved marketing results and effectiveness. Strategic planning assistance and input. Centers of influence for networking introductions. Crisis and transition leadership in the event of the death or resignation of the CEO. Help anticipating market changes and trends. Steps to Creating an Effective Board of Advisors: Analyze the strength and weaknesses of your current management team. Look for critical areas of expertise and knowledge that your company could use help with such as marketing, legal, finance, eCommerce, and research and development or information technology. If your company is planning on going public within the next few years, seek out advisors who have successfully taken companies down that path. Set clear, written goals and objectives for your board of advisors. Getting maximum value from a board of advisors begins with clear objectives and goals. Board members must know why they have been asked to serve and what is expected of them. Before establishing the board, the CEO and senior managers should sit down and ask some of the following questions: 1. What are the main areas we need advice and guidance in? 2. What specifically do we need the board members to do for us? 3. Who are a few potential candidates for board membership? 4. How do we avoid giving away too much control to outsiders? 5. What will be the powers and limitations of the board? 6. What will setting up the board cost initially? Annually? Will it be worth the cost? Determine the size and structure of your board. Advisory boards range in size from two members to over thirty. The right size depends on many factors, such as your company's size, complexity, stage of development and individual skills needed. My experience and research has found that for most small to mid-sized, growing companies or start-ups, a 5 to 7 member advisory board is an ideal size. Smaller firms can start with just one or two members and add new members as they grow. Recruiting Candidates Determining whom you invite to join your board is one of the most critical decisions in setting up a board of advisors. Often a business owner's first instinct is to ask friends, family members or professional advisors to sit on their board. This is usually a mistake. Unless your friend or family member is a recognized authority in an area of expertise lacking by your management team or a highly successful entrepreneur, they are probably not the wisest choice. Another reason to avoid asking family or friends to join your board is lack of objectivity. Often advice from a friend, family member or management insider is sugar coated to protect relationships. An outside advisor can give you a much more objective and honest assessment of the situation. Using professional advisors such as your lawyer, banker or accountant as board members has it's own pitfalls. These advisors are already working for you and may not be as objective as you need, due to having an interest in generating future business from your company. Some critical action steps for recruiting a dynamite board of advisors are: Develop a candidate profile. After you have determined the areas of expertise your company is in need of, create a profile of candidates that successfully fit these needs. Take care to address knowledge and skills that your company will need to meet projected growth and future challenges. Seek out experts. Search online and offline for experts and proven leaders that meet your candidate profiles. Contact them and begin discussions about possible board membership. Ask for recommendations. Solicit recommendations from the experts you speak with that cannot serve on your board, of collogues of theirs that they feel would be a good fit for your needs. Begin networking with your attorney, accountant and other professional advisors. Once you have successfully recruited an advisor, he or she can often lead you to another good candidate. Find your candidates motivation. Most of your candidates are not going to be motivated by money alone. In fact, if money is their primary reason for joining your board, they may not be what you are looking for. The most effective board members are motivated by the challenge and intellectual stimulation of building successful companies. They serve because they are already high achievers and enjoy the challenge. Have variety in your board. Try to include experts and successful entrepreneurs from several different disciplines. Often board members who are successful marketers, CEOs and business owners from different industries can bring a fresh perspective to your business. These individuals can often help you incorporate best practices from other industries, into your own industry, creating revolutionary changes and opportunities. Look for a proven track record. Find the leaders in their field. The best board candidates are successful CEOs, business owners, professionals, university professors and consultants who have achieved success in their own businesses and careers. Clearly communicate your goals and objectives. Invest time in talking to and meeting with potential members. Communicate to them what your goals and objectives are. Let them know that you are not looking for "yes men" and that you want advisors who will challenge you and hold you accountable for your businesses growth. Board Compensation Board members expect and deserve to be compensated for their time, efforts and advice. Typical advisory board compensation includes a stipend from $5,000 to $25,000 per member, per year. Some companies pay their board members per meeting, with payment ranging from $500 to $3,000 per meeting, with a monthly retainer of $500 to $2,500. Companies should also cover transportation, meals and lodging for members when attending meetings. Most successful boards also give or require members to buy stock or some form of equity in the company. This gives the board members equity participation and a vested interest in the growth of the company. Pitfalls to Avoid Some potential problem areas to avoid when setting up or working with your advisory board are: Members missing meetings. Because board members are usually running successful businesses of their own, they may not always be available for every meeting. However, board members should be made aware that attendance of board meetings is important and expected. If a member is chronically absent, the value of their membership on the board should be reviewed. Insecurity of senior managers. Some company insiders may feel intimidated or threatened by the involvement of outsiders. The CEO or owner must make every effort to communicate to his staff the benefits and importance of having a board of advisors. Incompatible personalities. This is a challenging situation, because most members of your board will be strong willed, achiever types, who have gotten where they are by taking charge. Many will have strong convictions about their opinions and may find it hard to defer the leadership of the meetings to the CEO. You must determine when a member's personality is "too strong" and becoming disruptive. Excessive number of board members. Because of their strong personalities, if you have too many members on your board, the more assertive members often dominate the debates, depriving you of the contributions the quieter members may have made. Lack of CEO communication. Withholding company information or not regularly communicating with the members of your board of advisors destroys trust and effectiveness. Regular communication between meetings is essential to maintaining an effective board. Inadequate compensation. As I mentioned, you do not want compensation to be the determining factor in a candidates membership on your advisory board, however successful individuals of the caliber you seek expect to be fairly compensated for their time and knowledge. Keys to Board Effectiveness If you build it, use it. Owners and CEOs who invest the time and money in creating a board should be committed to soliciting and using its advice on important issues and decisions. Value their input, even when they disagree with what you want to do. Sometimes a board is at it's most valuable when it recommends against a course of action the CEO wants to take. If you recruit a good board, often they have already been down the path you are on, and their experience (and past failures) can help you to avoid costly mistakes. Communicate with your advisors. Keep the members of your board informed about what is happening in your company and industry. Counsel with individual members on the phone at least monthly and send them information well in advance of your meetings, to help them prepare and keep the meetings productive. Hold regular meetings. Most boards meet once per quarter. However, boards should meet more often during times of rapid growth or if company needs merit additional oversight and guidance. Have an objective for each meeting. Your board members are busy people and their time is valuable. Make the most out of your meetings with them, by having a clear agenda and objectives for each meeting. Make sure to cover the most important items of business first, in case the discussions take longer than planned or some members have to leave early. Annual assessment of board performance. Periodically assessing the board's effectiveness is a critical factor in ensuring a good return on investment. Each year the board should set performance goals and define their criteria for success. At the end of the year the CEO and the board should assess it's performance, compared to its goals and criteria for success. Over 80 percent of all private companies are operating without a board of advisors or board of directors. Odds are your competitors do not have one. Because of this, developing a board of advisors can give your company a distinct advantage over your competition. This is particularly true for start-ups and family run businesses. There is tremendous value in receiving objective, knowledgeable advice from a board of advisors who share in the financial and equity growth of your business. I encourage you to begin recruiting your advisory board today!
10 Critical Facts to Put On the Cover of Your Business Plan...
In most business plans, no matter how striking the idea, the covers are critically important. The majority of investors may flip to the executive summary, if they get past the cover, when deciding whether or not they are interested. Exactly like the front page of a daily newspaper, a business plan cover puts the important highlights of the proposal upfront for potential investors to read.
Who is Responsible?
While writing an article recently on effective ways to bridge the IT/Management communication gap, I realized that few of us are eager to take responsibility in our business lives to make something different happen and be part of the solution.
Strategy Without Tactics is Futile
From time to time there seems to be a flurry of studies and surveys on effective communication in the workplace. As a communication specialist, I'm always eager to read these studies, but am often disappointed with what I see. That's because they all seem to be about communication strategy.
Communication Strategy During A Time Of Strategic Planning
"Rubbish!" shouted the large, aggressive man in the red-striped shirt (we had to pay attention to him because he owned the company).
Making a Decision to Outsource: Strategic Constraints
Many companies are reluctant to dive into outsourcing ocean because of various reasons of strategic nature. As far as strategic goals are touched upon, managers are concerned with the following issues:
What is a Shared Vision?
So what makes a vision successful? Everyday companies try to create a vision that will lead them into the future but seldom does that vision ever impact the organization. The reason for this is that the vision is created by a few and never becomes a 'shared vision' of the entire organization.
Planning for Success
Business planning is widely acknowledged as one of the keys to business success. Yet there is still a great reluctance by small business owners in this area. This is despite the fact that it can be shown that fewer business fail if they have prepared a business plan.
Microsoft Great Plains in Aerospace & Defense industries ? implementation & customization highlights
Microsoft Great Plains fits horizontal markets clientele and in case of Aerospace and Defense industry we'll talk about contractors ? parts and subsystems for government contracts. We do not necessarily talk about large corporation, however models described could be implemented for large publicly traded company. As a rule ? market is represented by established companies with long history, including long history of its ERP and Computer Business System. It is difficult to stake on the computer operating systems future, however you may try to give high level of trust to the ERP coming from Microsoft Business Solutions, especially considering the fact of acquisition of such market leaders as Great Plains Software and Navision Software.
Family and Friends Referrals Make the Best Franchisees
As a franchisor it is imperative that you seek, find and recruit the best franchisees to maintain a strong franchise system. Your current Franchisees are your very best sales people, sometimes without even knowing it. As a franchisee starts making more money, it will show. Soon they will be moving out of their apartment or home into a nicer area. They will be driving a nicer car. They will be frequenting nicer eating establishments. A female franchisee's husband will tell the guys at work in a bragging way how great his wife is doing and that he plans on quitting his job to help her. A male franchisee's wife will brag to her friends that she is planning a vacation of that they bought a new indoor four-person Jacuzzi. Her friends will entice their husbands and boyfriends to look into the franchise, franchise companies should encourage this scenario and spend more time and money on referrals than straight sales. Sure mass marketing works, but throwing spaghetti at the refrigerator until something sticks is not very becoming of a star rated franchise system. Many times people at the franchisee's old job will start talking, "Hey, did you hear about Skip?, He's really doing well with that new franchise thing he doing." "Yah! Have you seen his new Corvette."
Insurance Requirements in Franchised Companies
Franchised companies often require what some believe to be excessive insurance requirements. This is because so often if a franchise is sued for any reason that the Lawyers go after the big money of the franchisors and name them in the lawsuit. It is amazing that a lawyer can write garbage in a lawsuit and file it in court and if you do not hire another lawyer to fight them, you could lose your entire life's work and company. But our legal system as most entrepreneurs agree is a complete joke and more closely represents the extortion tactics of the mob than any legitimate sense of fairness or truth. This is why franchisors must require huge limits of liability insurance and additional insured certificates as part of the franchise agreement.
19 Questions to Supercharge Your Business Plan
Whether you are seeking capital for your company or are optimizing your business strategy, the most important element - particularly for outside investors - may be your written business plan. You can tune-up and supercharge your plan using this 19-step checklist. When your written plan firmly answers yes to each of these 19 questions, your market/product strategy is in terrific shape plus you increase the odds of attracting investment capital.
What is Your MSP?
For many consumers and producers, MSP is an acronym for Manufacturer's Suggested Price. Today, I would like you to consider a different definition for these commonly used letters ?Marketing, Sales and Profitability.
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