Too often, we are scared to admit we don't know something - so when asked a question, we bluff and try and give an answer, rather than admit the truth. "I don't know".
Don't bluff. People can spot a bluffer. Instead admit you don't know. Follow it up with "I don't know - but I'll aim to find out for you" or "I don't know - we should do some more work on that". It is honest and doesn't hide ignorance (and nobody can be expected to know everything). More importantly it opens out discussion - and you may get the answer from somebody else who does know. (And in those circumstances, bluffing would quickly expose you as a fool). ... See MoreSee Less
Boost Your Marketing Returns by Improving Email readability buff.ly/2u24sVb I recently mentioned an email I'd received that was packed with buzzwords & jargon. (bit.ly/2tybPQX) It's a shame the author hadn't read this article which gives tips on writing promotional emails that work.
People have a short attention span. They'll spend only seconds skim-reading before deciding on whether or not to delete a promotional email. Clear, concise content is essential if your potential customers are going to act on your emails. Calculating and then improving readability is a skill all marketers need. ... See MoreSee Less
Which social media platform should my business be on?
Social media is part of everyday life – Twitter hacks become major news stories, and video bloggers top the bestseller charts. Despite this, it is still often hard to know how social media can benefit your business. In this guide, take a look at all the major social networks along with examples of how SME businesses are using them to boost their profile. ... See MoreSee Less
"Our 2017 theme will center on Developing & Engaging the Modern Workforce: Thriving in an Increasingly Complex Business Environment. It is mission critical for today’s organization to focus on collaborating with both internal and external communities with strategic and tactical approaches. This is a time of great change and uncertainty in Europe, and a successful model requires critical knowledge of disruptive forces and industry drivers as well as a better understanding of corporate stake holders and objectives. The 2017 European Summit will center on the rise of a community-based intelligence structure that harnesses collaboration in order to enhance efficiency, effectiveness, and impact."
I've removed two words that would make it very easy to guess the organisation - even if you don't them from the phrasing.
The Harvard University Professor, Richard Rumelt, gave a number of ways to identify a bad strategy in his (well-worth-reading) book "Good Strategy / Bad Strategy". One way to recognise a bad strategy is the over-use of fluff - "Sunday" words that have little real meaning.
Rumelt summarised key points in the book in a June 2011 issue of the McKinsey Quarterly saying: "A final hallmark of mediocrity and bad strategy is superficial abstraction—a flurry of fluff—designed to mask the absence of thought. Fluff is a restatement of the obvious, combined with a generous sprinkling of buzzwords that masquerade as expertise."
The quoted paragraph from the email was perhaps the worst example although the email included other nonsense: "very unique opportunity" (and later: "two unique opportunities" - unique means "ONE" so if there are two opportunities, they cannot be unique).
If your strategy can't be quickly understood as the wording lacks clarity, then the chances are the thought processes behind the strategy also lack clarity. That is the reason such strategies tend to be bad. The same applies to writing an email aimed at persuading the recipient to take action and sign up to participate in the 2017 European Summit.
A friend just posted a quotation that was attributed to Mark Twain:
"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so".
Sounds good - and is certainly an apposite quote for competitive intelligence. The problem is that Mark Twain never wrote this.
One lesson in competitive intelligence is to ALWAYS check sources so that you don't make decisions based on false information that looks as if it is true.
One needs an antenna to spot these - as because they look true, people believe them, act on them and so continue spreading false information - hence developing bad strategies that lead to failure. (They then respond: "I acted on the best intelligence available at the time. How was I to know it was wrong?". The reason is you need to check - or if you can't check, build in a contingency plan. This is the reason that the US/UK invaded Iraq. It was based on the "best intelligence" except it was biased from a poor source and nobody checked the source. They just accepted what was said).
In this case the quotation is false. It's easily checked and like so many such quotations, is being spread around until somebody famous who should know better quotes it. Then it's believed as fact as the famous person MUST have checked it and be right. Except often they haven't. The quotation occurs in the film "The Big Short" and also "An Inconvenient Truth" where Al Gore attributes it to Mark Twain.
There are lots more such fake quotes - some turning into costly mistakes. The California Academy of Sciences embedded a fake quote they attributed to Charles Darwin into their entrance floor. ... See MoreSee Less
11 types of company based on strategy approaches and the degree in which companies align their value proposition and distinctive capabilities with their marketplace opportunities through their product / service portfolio.
The 11 types range from companies that are strategically adrift to super-competitors and include unfocused, distracted and constrained type companies, as well as highly successful companies with powerful value propositions and systems that support this and to shape their future.
The General Data Protection Regulation is replacing the EU Data Protection Directive. This guide explain the changesand how it will impact all businesses operating or having dealings with EU countries (currently still including the UK). ... See MoreSee Less
Telling jokes is a way of building rapport with an audience. Unfortunately this isn't always straightforward as what is humourous in one culture may not be amusing in a different one.
Understanding cross-cultural differences is important when doing business cross-borders, presenting or training. The link gives a guide to differences across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas.... bit.ly/2qkqmi5... See MoreSee Less
Hand gestures can mean different things - and using a gesture that is OK in one country can be a real faux-pas in other countries. Knowing what not to use is essential in business, training and international presentations
30 Body language tips for a successful presentation
When you give a presentation or talk in front of an audience, your body language will have a major influence on whether or not your message is received. Body language can affect whether the audience believes you are credible, whether your message is valuable and interesting, and whether they should take stock of what you are saying and get on board with your ideas.
Our body language must be congruent with our message because our words convey only 7% of the meaning, our vocal expression 38% and our body language a whopping 55% of what the audience will remember and believe about you as a speaker.
Even if your content is invaluable, the message your body is delivering will be the deciding factor to whether your audience will engage with you. ... See MoreSee Less
Top languages used today on the Internet - and their growth. (With thanks to @Luis_Madureira)
Originally, the dominant language by far on the Internet was English. That lead has now decreased. A third of all around 3bn+ web users converse in English but just over a quarter (26%) are Chinese speakers and 10% are Spanish speakers. That means 30% of web-users use another language to converse.
This has implications for international business as you can no longer view English as the web's lingua franca. If you want to do business with China, Chinese is the language you should use. The same with Spanish, Arabic, and other top European AND Asian languages. ... See MoreSee Less
Competitive & Marketing intelligence analysis shouldn't only look at what's visible - otherwise you risk "survivorship bias".
Sometimes only survivors make it back. Looking at where the survivor is hurt doesn't tell you about those who don't make it back as their injuries were much greater. Understanding this can tell you where to protect (or attack).
Abraham Wald, in WW2, understood this when decisions were being made about protecting planes from attack. The original idea was to add additional armour to the parts of the planes with the most bullet holes. Wald showed that this approach was wrong - as these planes had returned. Instead you should protect those parts that didn't show damage as these were likely to be on the planes that did not make it home.
The same rule applies when looking at business weaknesses and failures - on both yourself and your competitor. This can tell you where to attack and where to defend. ... See MoreSee Less
A Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting Competitive Analysis
Napoleon Bonaparte apparently said: "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake" But what if it's you who are making the mistake. You'll never know if you don't know what your competitors are doing, how and why.
First: set goals. Then identify competitors. Look to see what they are doing and how usable they are e.g. by analysis of their website. Then consider their value proposition - what are they offering. Speak to competitor customers. Measure how they are doing..... and more. ... See MoreSee Less
Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle had Sherlock Holmes state "If you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth" This is an example of Occam's Razor - which can also be summarised as "Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected"
In competitive intelligence analyses, and in strategy this principle is worth thinking about. A strategy that is overly complex and not clearly stated or understandable is going to be a bad strategy. Occam's Razor is a way of looking at strategy, scientific theory, theology and more and is a useful mental approach for looking at complex issues. buff.ly/2qnnkvW... See MoreSee Less
Top 10 self-liming beliefs... that silently sabotage us in life - and how to address them.
1. I’m too old 2. I’m not smart enough 3. I am not educated enough 4. I’m afraid of trying and failing 5. You have to have money to make money 6. I’ve already tried everything 7. I can’t do that 8. I don’t feel I really deserve it 9. I’ll never be able to do that 10. All the good ones are taken
In fact, you are never too old to set new goals or dreams, you are good enough and intelligent enough to succeed.... and if you don't try then of course you'll fail, but if you do try or try again you may succeed. There is no such thing as failure - it's just feedback you can use to learn from so the next attempt takes you towards success. Each self-limiting belief can be overcome by rethinking how you view things. buff.ly/2qnwgSG... See MoreSee Less
Leadership is making sure that the whole group is with you - not that you are above them but that they and you are all in this together and if the weakest fail then it's a fault in your leadership.
"A group of wolves:
The 3 in front are old & sick, they walk in front to set the pace of the running group lest they get left behind.
The next 5 are the strongest & best, they are tasked to protect the front side if there is an attack.
The pack in the middle are always protected from any attack.
The 5 behind them are also among the strongest & best; they are tasked to protect the back side if there is an attack.
The last one is the LEADER. He ensures that no one is left behind. He keeps the pack unified and on the same path. He is always ready to run in any direction to protect & serves as the 'bodyguard' to the entire group."
Assisted, augmented and autonomous intelligence will all play roles in future corporate/organisational strategies. Companies need to make decisions today so they are prepared for future #AI requirements to keep them ahead.
There's always a conflict between ethics and profit. Profit often comes first - explaining why so many companies behave unethically. When caught out, they lose - as long-term it is ethics that build brand and customer loyalty that lead to profits. However too often the profit motive is ingrained in a company culture, over and above ethical behaviour.
Dilbert cartoons over the last week have been looking at corporate culture and today's cartoon shows why ethical approaches lose out to the profit motive. ... See MoreSee Less
5 Industries That Are Prime Targets for Disruption
During the Industrial Age the course of history was changed as new technology disrupted everything from production to transportation. Today we're in the midst of similar upheaval as digital technologies spread. Change will impact most industries but these 5 are ripe for further #disruption: Furniture: Ikea is only the first step Retail: Going beyond Amazon Healthcare: Wearable devices promise major change Education: E-learning Real Estate: LA-based startup Open Listings shows you can bypass the real-estate agent… ... See MoreSee Less
When service is designed well and delivered expertly, it is because there is alignment among your strategic goals, your customer’s wants and needs, and what actually happens between the two of you. That alignment is a function of 10 key elements. Once you understand these and can assess how successful your company is at delivering them, you can begin to take the action needed to transform.
Notice the first five elements emphasize the customer’s side of the relationship while the second five are mostly about you, the provider.
• Empathy: Developing products, services, and experiences from the customer’s point of view; taking full account of how your customers interact with you
• Expectation: Ensuring that customers know what to expect from their interaction with you
• Emotion: Knowing the emotions your customer brings to your relationship, and guiding customers to a satisfied feeling about working with you
• Elegance: Providing offerings that are clean, simple, easy to work with, and complete — nothing superfluous, nothing omitted
• Engagement: Communicating with customers — and allowing them to communicate with you — at every point of contact, to understand their experience and how to improve it
• Execution: Reliably meeting all the expectations you have set
• Engineering: Possessing technical excellence (compared to your peers, but also to general business standards) and eliminating waste of materials, time, and effort, so that no extraneous effort is necessary on the part of you or your customer
• Economics: Pricing your services appropriately, so the customer gets value for his or her money and you make the profit you expect
• Experimentation: Building processes for improvement and innovation into the daily work of your business; developing capabilities to create and roll out new offerings
• Equivalence: Managing the customer, your team, and partner organizations so that you, the service provider, are satisfied too
These 10 elements can be used to create a service design and delivery report card that helps you measure how successful your company, department, or function is in creating a superior experience with and for your customers. Once you carefully and fully assess how well your service is delivered to your customers, you can use that assessment to set priorities for improvement.”
I just read an interesting blog post from Fuld & Co. (insights.fuld.com/blog/competitive-chess-with-cheese). The post discusses how one cheese brand (Boar's Head) had tied up a channel in the local area supermarkets, freezing out the other brand (Land O'Lakes). The story itself is an interesting example of competitive strategy and channel marketing. However what concerns me is the conclusion. The author implies that the frozen brand has lost out and that this is permanent, and that the consumer loses. I disagree! Please comment if you think my analysis is wrong.
The author concludes "There are large implications of this kind of direct competitive brand war. Primarily, it’s the consumer who loses. While retailers are enjoying whatever perks and profits reaped from selling promotion and shelf space to brands, consumers suffer from less choice and limited options. Less choice leads to higher prices as controlling brands leverage their newfound market freedom.... Staying ahead of a competitor’s strategy, including the innovative approaches competitors may take to win in the marketplace, is integral to a company’s success. And time is a driving factor: twenty years of doing the same thing is not a recipe for success, in fact it’s quite the opposite. The deli counter was ripe for disruption. Had Land O’Lakes better controlled the distribution channel, it could have forestalled or at least diminished Boar’s Head’s competitive strike. When the distribution of your product rests in a sales channel outside of your control, it’s crucial to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with that channel. Even beloved branded staples like Land O’Lakes American cheese aren’t immune to innovative competitive tactics."
Apart from this not being a classic product disruption in that there is no innovation as such and in fact nothing new in grabbing a channel in this way, I see this as a classic "prisoners dilemma" scenario.
Boar's Head has made a move - presumably by offering the supermarkets a better deal to take its brand over the competitor. Land O'Lakes now has a choice. It can sit back, losing share, and ultimately profits, OR it can go to the supermarkets and offer an alternative (better) deal so it can be stocked also. It may make less money doing this than was the situation previously BUT it is better than doing nothing. Meanwhile Boar's Head will have lost its monopoly and, having accepted a lower-price deal will make less money. Essentially both brands should be available but at a lower price to the supermarket than before Boar's Head tried to steal the channel. It means that the winner is the supermarket who pays less to the cheese suppliers OR the consumer if the savings are passed on (i.e. the opposite of the Fuld blogger).
If Boar's Head has put in provisions to guarantee exclusivity in some stores, then Land O'Lakes can do that in others and so divide the market up. Again both suppliers lose and the supermarkets gain. Consumers lose in having less choice in this case however.
The only scenario where Boar's Head can win is if Land O'Lakes cannot match Boar's Head's offer at all - anywhere. If that is the case it means that ultimately Land O'Lakes will disappear or become a niche supplier - and so the Fuld analysis would be correct. However as both cheese suppliers seem to be major brands, this is the least likely scenario. ... See MoreSee Less
India is building an "industrial corridor" of "Smart Cities" linking the capital, Delhi, with the business centre, Mumbai. Costing upwards of $100bn, they will include state-of-the-art technology including transportation and infrastructure and be built to be environmentally friendly. China is spending over $1.2 trillion on infrastructure to link it commercially and financially to 65 countries, while Malaysia is in the middle of an initiative aimed at creating a world-class economic region in its North-West states by 2025.
Essentially these (and other) emerging markets are industrialising and building foundations for growth. To succeed they need to include human development and high living standards, institutional infrastructure and opportunities for growth in terms of transport, communications, finance, energy, etc. If they succeed they will be the power-houses for the future in not only these markets but globally. buff.ly/2q1CCqZ... See MoreSee Less