“A SEAL (Navy Seal) is Always Prepared”:”finding Certainty in Uncertain Situations”| New-age Leadership| by: Jeff Boss | Entrepreneur

With today’s competitive landscape changing about as fast as you can say, “Competitive Landscape,”.. Leaders need to be able to adapt, face the unknown and act with certainty in uncertain situations. Whether it’s the battlefield or the boardroom, leaders must make decisions quickly to stay relevant and avoid becoming obsolete.

That said, it also takes awareness to know when the best time is to be the right leader in the right setting..

We had a saying in the SEAL Teams whenever we were on target, “Let the situation dictate”…Allowing circumstances to unfold without employing any pre-conceived biases allowed us to both adapt to the enemy threat in real time and contain chaos rather than create more.. 

How do people maintain a presence of mind and think clearly when the odds say otherwise ??

Here are FOUR Tips for “Leaders” to find certainty in uncertain situations :

1. Identify your Purpose – When bullets or insults are flying back and forth, remember the purpose that brought you here. Purpose provides focus. It offers direction and guides decision making. A leader’s purpose is the underlying belief for being and thus answers the why the hell am I doing this” question that seems to arise at the most inopportune times. If your purpose runs askew or falls into that gray between justice and injustice, right and wrong, then so do your values and—as well as those you lead.

2. Accept and Assess – If you can’t change, influence, or repeat the factors that produced your current situation, then the only option left is to accept it. Acceptance offers closure and with closure comes conviction and opportunity. The first time I got shot (yes, you read that correctly) there wasn’t much I could do about it except learn from any mistakes. Of course, I probably didn’t do a good of it since I got shot again a couple deployments later.

The point is that when situations are obscure or lack clarity, don’t panic, just accept the circumstance for what it is and assess ways to overcome it. Consider this : If you’re a leader and your brand is getting bombarded by the competition, incoming mortar rounds, or both, then it really doesn’t matter what direction you move in, just so long as you move.

3. Have a Back-up Plan – Always have a “go to” in your back pocket when things go awry—a second, third, and fourth course of action to call upon when an audible is needed. This way, you’re always ready to adapt. Doing so allows you to keep momentum and focus on the “next state” along which learning opportunities exist, rather than accept a sub-par “end state” where opportunities surrender.

Of course, there’s a balance here. Too much of any one thing is just that—too much. Over planning can stifle decision-making and lead stakeholders to the point of analysis paralysis, where they “nuke” an idea to the extent that it would actually be easier to forego the plan altogether—or just go play in traffic. Find the inflection point where the fear of facing conflict and the fear of not facing it converge (and stay out of traffic).

4. Re-define Uncertainty – Just because things get a little chaotic doesn’t mean the zombie apocalypse has arrived. Believe it or not, uncertainty is healthy. It reminds leaders of their purpose and passion for why they lead; it injects abnormality into an otherwise normal routine and prevents leaders from falling into Einstein’s definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

The one thing that doubt, indecision, risk aversion, or any myriad momentum stoppers have in common is that they all serve as cruxes of choice. They are either a reason to revert back to what one knows and reclaim assurance, OR a cause to test oneself, grow, and become better. Make the right choice.

“Organization that Renews itself “: “Lasting value from Lean-Management”| by: David Jacquemont |McKinsey

” Applying Lean-Principles to “Management”, rather than just “Operations”, can help large organizations re-imagine how they work and unlock value through continuous improvement”…

Executives at a financial institution wondered how to fight complacency as they watched competitors start to catch up to their most important product—one whose success the institution never quite matched…!! 

A logistics company faced diminishing returns from years of cost cutting. Managing vendors now consumed many of the gains from outsourcing. Fixing talent and quality issues meant that “ Low cost ” locations were no longer so low cost. And just keeping pace with the latest IT developments meant constant budgetary struggles. How could it get more out of the cost-cutting investments it had already made ?? 

How often do you hear of these types of issues in your organization ? How often do you confront them yourself ??

Of course, questions that challenge how well large, modern organizations work are almost as old as management itself. But if it seems that questions are coming up more often, or more forcefully, there are good reasons.

The first is a rising sense of urgency, with large organizations recognizing that the pressures they face are unlikely to abate much in the short term, regardless of location or sector.

In mature markets, slower growth, lingering debt burdens, and aging work-forces are the chief concerns; in fast-growing countries, rapid expansion and urbanization are outpacing the ability of local infrastructure and talent pools to keep up. Everywhere, mismatches between worker skills and available jobs are growing, even as unemployment reaches new highs, especially among the young—while those managers and workers who do find employment report high stress and low engagement.

To respond to these forces, organizations need new capacity and energy, but instead they find both are in short supply, having been absorbed by internal complexity..

Thus, while the specific issues may differ, the broader themes are the same. Large organizations realize they must re-imagine how they work so that their scale once again becomes an asset rather than a liability. And they must do so from within, because external conditions—the rising economic tides that formerly lifted so many boats, regardless of how well or badly they rowed—are not likely to make a lasting return any time soon.

The second reason for questions is, if anything, even more important. Leaders know that some organizations are transforming themselves, finding new value while becoming more resilient, effective, and efficient in ways that keep reinforcing themselves over time. These organizations, both in heavy industry and in service sectors as diverse as banking, telecommunications, and government, attain a state that is as valuable as it is rare: continuous improvement. Their performance increases both in the immediate term and over the long run, as the techniques people learn form a new culture centered on finding ways to do things better.

However, leaders also know that imitating an admired organization’s best practices is hardly a reliable way to imitate its success. It takes more than a borrowed checklist. What is it that makes these exceptional organizations so exceptional—and keeps them that way ?

Lean Management’s FOUR disciplines: 

In working with large organizations, we have found that those that renew themselves all seek to execute four essential management disciplines exceptionally well. Every organization already follows these disciplines in one form or another. Accordingly, they are not a formula; they do not represent the whole universe of “good management.” But when leaders design systems that enforce these disciplines effectively—and when they ensure they’re followed every day, at every level of the organization—the disciplines reinforce one another to create what lean has long envisioned: an adaptive organization that consistently generates the most value possible for all stakeholders from all of the resources it can bring to bear.

Even more important, the disciplines correlate to tangible skills and ways of working that people and organizations can learn—which, over time, constitute culture—how people behave and think. The more the organization learns regarding each of the four disciplines, the more it can achieve and the faster it gets at learning and improving itself.

1. Delivering value efficiently to the customer – The organization must start by understanding what customers truly value—and where, when, how, and why as well. It must then configure how it works so that it can deliver exactly that value, no more and no less, with the fewest resources possible, improving coordination, eliminating redundancy, and building quality into every process. The cycle of listening and responding never ends, as the customer’s evolving needs reveal new opportunities to attack waste, create new worth, and build competitive advantage.

2. Enabling people to lead and contribute to their fullest potential – The organizations that get the most from their people provide them with support mechanisms so that they can truly master their work, whether at the front line or in the boardroom. Revamped physical space fosters collaboration, visual-management techniques let everyone see what needs to be done, targeted coaching builds capabilities, and simple “job aids” reinforce standards. These and other changes enable employees to own their own development, without leaving them to figure it out by themselves.

3. Discovering better ways of working – As customers, competitors, and the broader economic and social context change, the whole enterprise must continually think about how today’s ways of working and managing could improve. To guide the inquiry, people will need a clear sense of what “better” means—the ideal that the organization is reaching toward—as well as an unvarnished view of current conditions and the ability to work with others to close gaps without fear of reprisal. Problem identification and resolution must become a part of everyone’s job description, supported by structures to ensure that problems flow to the people best able to solve them.

4. Connecting Strategy, Goals & Meaningful Purpose – Organizations that endure operate from a clear direction—a vision of what the organization is for, which in turn shapes their strategy and objectives in ways that give meaning to daily work. At every level, starting with the CEO, leaders articulate the strategy and objectives in ways that their people can understand and support. The final step aligns individual goals to the strategy and vision, with the result that people fully understand their role in the organization and why it matters.

The FOUR build on one another. For example, to create new products that deliver better value to customers, the financial-data company cited at the beginning will need to convince its employees that their ideas matter, encourage them to find new ways to respond to customers, and clarify the company’s purpose. To help its people manage the surge in inflow, the government agency will need to evaluate what matters to constituents, reassess how work gets done, and make sure that its strategy is consistent with its mission. Thus, while an organization’s focus may naturally emphasize different disciplines at different times, it will need all four to keep renewing itself. Together, they form the lean-management system..

As the organization’s experience with the system deepens, its capabilities will naturally strengthen. At the same time, lean management fosters a culture that encourages continual reassessment. Gradually, that drive will come to apply to the system as well—the organization will seek to improve its application of lean management, to see how it could push the ideas (and its performance) further.

Accordingly, the most committed organizations regularly conduct well-structured assessments of their maturity in lean management, giving them feedback on their progress in all four disciplines while identifying opportunities to reflect and improve.

“Democratisation of Luxury” : “Branded Luxury in India” | ET Retail

Branded luxury is not new to Elite India…There was a time in the 1920’s, when 20% of Rolls Royce’s global sales were from Elite India. In 1926, the Maharaja of Patiala gave Cartier its largest commission till date the re-modelling of his crown jewels, which included the 234.69 carat De Beers diamond. The result was the Patiala necklace weighing  962.25 carats with 2930 diamonds.

In 1928, the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir placed 30 orders in six months for trunks from luggage maker Louis Vuitton. Not to mention that a certain Nizam had procured 50 Harley Davidsons for his postmen to deliver his messages.

The term Elite India is to capture the Aristocrats and the Blue Bloods. Luxury was contained exclusively within this elite coterie for generations.

The democratisation process started happening in the West first, where wealthy businessmen got the taste of luxury and the rest is history. Luxury was no longer only for the select few, it was for anyone and everyone who can afford, irrespective of the colour of their blood.

In India, in the past decade we saw a rapid rise of the new Maharajas. Industrialists, entrepreneurs, professionals, and the rural rich started blatantly adoring all things luxurious.

Today, even the luxury of Royalty is available for a price. How does it matter if you are not born in a Jaipur palace, today Royal Weddings have become commonplace. Perhaps the opening up of palaces for hotels is the biggest step towards democratisation of exclusivity of royalty. You will be treated like a king, if you have the moolah. Life is just that simple.

Now let us look at the rise of the so-called masses. These new customers — luxury-rich but asset — poor are both an opportunity and a threat to the traditional luxury-goods producers.

As consumers, they are more demanding, more selective, and show less brand loyalty than the high net worth individuals who were the archetypal consumers of the old luxury. They are willing to pay high prices, but they expect commensurate quality; old luxury was never so fussed.

And they want the hottest, trendiest designs, which increasingly have to be marketed in creative (and expensive) ways including product placements on TV sitcoms.

Economist claims that this democratisation of luxury is eating into the profits of the luxury-goods manufacturers. To maintain quality and to withstand the tightening of their margins that it implies, they must have the capacity and resources to change designs frequently and to get new products into the shops rapidly. That means money, discipline and clout. Design and creativity are the bedrock of any luxury brand. But the access to financial resources and thorough execution that are part of any professional management really come into their own when times are tough. The vulnerability of small trophy companies becomes more obvious during a downturn.

Lets now consider the more interesting segment of the masses. To explain this first let me introduce a term: masstige. The word is a portmanteau of the words mass and prestige and has been described as “prestige for the masses.”The term was popularized by Michael Silverstein and Neil Fiske in their book Trading Up and Harvard Business Review article “Luxury for the Masses.” Masstige products are defined as “premium but attainable,” and there are two key tenets: (1) They are considered luxury or premium products and 2. They have price points that fill the gap between mid-market and super premium.

Lets take the example of Speedy 30. In Korea, Louis Vuitton’s Speedy 30 handbag has been nicknamed the 3 second bag because it feels like you see one every 3 seconds. Its just one of many entry level products that have been developed to deliver value for money on a smaller, yet perhaps equally indulgent, taste of the brand narrative. So, this is a segment that aims at the entry level products of the luxury brands. The targets: accessories, belts, scarfs, wallets, small purses, and so on. They just need to flaunt the label.

Luxury brands extend downwards with these low-hanging seemingly affordable fruits to capture the masses and to whet their appetite.

So, from the Maharaja to the Praja, both now flaunt the same labels. That’s democratisation of luxury. Yes, it has taken decades, but we have made it..

“The Enabled Enterprise”: How to Build “Capabilities for Sustainable Success” | B C G

CEOs are facing an extraordinary test. Enduring competitive advantage is hard to achieve in a time of great uncertainty and volatility : sector-leaders are no longer sure to stay at the top for very long, and new challengers—often state-owned or family-owned companies that are unburdened by legacy business models—are attacking the profit heartlands.

CEOs know, nevertheless, that they have an obligation to make their companies stronger in a sustainable way. If they can’t….they will be seen to have failed. In the end, it is not what you achieve in the short term that matters, it is what you leave behind for the long term..!! 

How can CEOs guarantee success ? The answer is clear : they need the “Right People with Right Skills” supported by the “Right Organizational Structure”, “Processes & Tools”. If they have all this, they stand the best chance of outpacing their rivals in a fast-changing world.

Some companies already possess the necessary portfolio of capabilities to win. We call them ” Enabled Enterprises”.

The Fitness Factor : How Companies Can Become “Enabled ” ? 

“Only the fittest survive” is a mantra of business. In a fast-changing world, the fitness factor is doubly important. So CEOs need to build or strengthen their capabilities to win, and they must do so in an enduring way.

In our view, the best approach is to follow what we call an “Enablement Program”—a carefully planned portfolio of projects run by a company’s current and future leaders. This provides general managers with an appropriate mix of technical, managerial, and leadership skills as well as a strong business platform to maximize their effectiveness. The program can be designed for a whole enterprise, for a business unit, or even just for a function. 

Such a program is challenging to implement. It takes time and dedicated attention over several months, even years. But for the CEO of a company undertaking this task, the prize for all the effort is huge : a permanent uplift in the capabilities of the company—a game-changing transformation.

To be successful, it is necessary to hone the right capabilities while tackling a serious current challenge—for instance, managing through cycles of repeated change, repricing a suite of products OR services, OR applying Lean Techniques to manufacturing operations. Another success factor is to provide ongoing evidence of progress, typically in the form of financial or other tangible benefits. Such evidence helps to justify the sustained investment needed to fund the journey.

How to Conduct an “Enablement Program”: A Step-by-Step Guide : 

An enablement program has THREE Steps : 

  • The First focuses on the capabilities required to win. 
  • The Second and Third focus on implementing the Twin – Pillars of an Enabled Enterprise : Management and the Business Platform 

Step ONE : The Capabilities to Win – For an enterprise or business unit, a portfolio of strategic capabilities might include leadership, change management, lean or efficient manufacturing, pricing, procurement, sales force effectiveness, or talent management. For a function, the capabilities will be more specific; within pricing, for instance, they might include price setting, renegotiation, and discounting. 

To identify the capabilities, we recommend conducting a capability maturity assessment—a kind of corporate health check designed to determine what the company needs to do in order to build or strengthen the skills and systems required to lift the enterprise, business unit, or specific function to the next level. For instance, are sufficient time and resources dedicated to the right capabilities? Usually such an assessment is comparative, allowing a company to benchmark itself against its competitors.

Step TWO : Better Managers – It is essential for a company’s employees to have the right technical, management, and leadership skills to run the business. Therefore, the company should undertake an employee assessment of different cohorts of people: leaders, high performers, and middle managers, as well as those working in the corporate function, the front office, and the back office. With the information gleaned from this process, the company can begin the all-important task of investing in a coordinated initiative to improve skills—to drive up the quality of the average. At the same time, the company must take the opportunity to remove under-performers and recruit people who are better qualified.

A key feature of this initiative is to customize curricula for specific cohorts and individuals. For instance, a lean curriculum could have 24 modules arranged along five themes: lean principles, business requirements, operational improvement, performance governance, and people management. Different people are then selected to complete varying numbers of modules.

Step THREE : Next-Level Business Platforms – The best people need the best organizational structure, processes, and tools—the components of a business platform—to maximize their impact and effectiveness. Properly developed, a business platform fosters the free flow of information around the company and helps improve the decision-making process. 

Upgrading the operational tools that form the backbone of IT—the databases, computer systems, and other technical apparatus—should be a high priority. Next, a company must streamline the business processes—the collection of rules and regulations that ensure, among other things, the smooth supply of raw materials, the delivery of products to warehouses or customers, and the timely payment of bills.

When redesigning the organizational structure, a company must address the clarity and layering of roles, together with the alignment of key employees to the overall corporate strategy, through incentives and appropriate accountability. The company should also tackle the decision-making tools for customer relationship management, human resources management, and enterprise resource planning.

How an “Enablement Program” Works ? : TWO Case Studies – 

The only way to fully appreciate the power of an enablement program is to see it in action. Here, we describe two stories of enablement—one about a pest control company, the other about an energy company.

Case 1 : “Pricing” – The top executives at a company we’ll call PestControl were concerned about the company’s struggle to grow its customer base. After conducting a capability assessment, they came to the conclusion that a chaotic, decentralized system of pricing—which permitted account managers to offer their own discounts without reference to companywide guidelines—was to blame: managers were selling their products far too cheaply and doing little to retain key customers. What was to be done ?

The executives decided to launch an Enablement Program to transform the company’s pricing capability—and profitability—and to do so in a way that ensured that the improvements could be maintained over the long term. One of the new processes involved creating a “pricing council,” composed of a cross-functional group of executives tasked with making pricing decisions for strategic accounts. This helped to ensure that valuable customers were retained..

Case 2 : “Change Management” – A few years ago, a company we’ll call EnergyCo discovered a giant oilfield in deep water. But to extract this black gold, the company needed to fund a multibillion-dollar investment. To help pay for it, the company resolved to control its costs across a range of activities by launching a change-management enablement program to improve productivity.

The complexity was staggering: more than 500 cost-cutting initiatives were unveiled, and more than 1,000 people were charged with delivering them. This is why it was necessary to create a dedicated “Program/Project-Management Office (PMO)”, in few corporations this function is reffered as “Office of Strategy Management (OSM)”.

The enablement program, which is still ongoing, focuses on helping those people acquire the right practical skills. Some skills—such as developing a road-map, monitoring key performance indicators, handling automated data and facilitating effective meetings—are intended for individuals. Others are intended to foster collaborative supportive behavior and teamwork, such as proactively reaching out to stakeholders, refusing to “shoot the messenger,” and being open and transparent.

The Critical Role of the CEO as “Chief Enablement Officer” – 

A key success factor for any Enablement Program is the active participation of a company’s leadership. To a significant degree, the CEO must also function as a chief enablement officer. 

A successful Enablement Program delivers immediate benefits to the bottom-line…But what makes a program truly enabling is the extent to which the capabilities developed to deliver those benefits are woven into the business and cultural fabric of the company. What companies should get from an Enablement Program is not just a new set of skills and tools but also a new way of working.

In other words, the next time the CEO has a problem to fix, the company shouldn’t have to embark on a broad capability-building program. The legacy of an Enablement Program should be a long-lasting approach to solving problems together with a tangible infrastructure for embedding the solutions in the company.

Only the CEO, who has the high authority to take a holistic view, can drive the changes that need to be made across a company. But it is not just the CEO’s power that makes an enablement program a task for the top executive. In the end, it is the obligation of the CEO to create a stronger, fitter, more “Enabled” company…

Defining the “Office of Strategy Management (OSM)”: a CEO-office component | by: Joe Evans | Method Frameworks

Many organizations do an adequate job of strategic planning, only to see the effort go to waste as execution languishes – sometimes due to poor project management, lack of initiative ownership / accountability and political turf wars occurring within the business… 

Strategy governance is the secret weapon to combat such obstacles, but even then the approach taken with strategic plan oversight distinguishes the outcomes a great deal. Governance disconnected from business operations usually results in a powerless reporting function that does not help improve upon strategy execution. For a strategy governance organization to produce better than average results in execution, it requires the function to be well-integrated within the business and exist in a culture of accountability. It must offer process sophistication, planning maturity and have the authority to act.

The best practice for closing that gap between strategy and execution is the establishment of a corporate-level Office of Strategy Management (OSM) – responsible for overseeing all strategy-related activities ranging from formulation to execution. 

What is an Office of Strategy Management (OSM)? : 

An Office of Strategy Management is usually organized at the corporate level to facilitate corporate strategic plan development and oversee implementation. We use the term “oversee” because execution of strategy must be accomplished in an integrated fashion throughout an organization and the OSM is not intended to do all of the work. The OSM’s role is not just strategy development, but also to be the major player in corporate strategic program coordination. 

The term Project Management Office (PMO) is related to an OSM in many ways, yet the OSM’s function must be (by definition) significantly broader than managing programs and projects. A PMO is generally a group or department within an enterprise that defines and maintains standards for project management across the organization, seeking to standardize and introduce economies of repetition in the execution of projects. PMOs are generally the source of documentation, guidance and metrics on the practice of project management and execution. In that regard, a PMO’s standards might well serve the OSM – where managing programs and projects is part of the function the OSM provides, but not the primary purpose. Likewise, an OSM should be the source of documentation, guidance and metrics on the practice of strategic and operational planning practices. If PMO standards for project management exist already within the organization, an OSM should be leveraging those assets. If not, it most likely will step up to fill that gap. Perhaps the most important similarity between PMOs and an OSM relates to the form of PMO implementation where governing groups of related projects is part of that function’s scope. In this regard, a PMO’s program governance role is closely related to the OSM’s primary purpose and overlap might exist between the two.

To conclude this point, the OSM performs a strategy governance function for strategic plan development and implementation. Central to governance are the concepts of leadership, authority, accountability, transparency and stewardship. Additional to this is the concept that the OSM serves as a “delivery arm” to ensure the efficient, effective and equitable allocation of funding is directed to strategy-aligned initiatives.

How can an OSM be established and when does it become a requirement ? :

So how does an OSM become a reality and when is one needed? The answer to the second question is the easiest to address. An OSM, whether it begins with a single individual or a small team, adds value to the CEO and executive team as soon as the organization begins to formally perform strategic planning. That’s because the executive team cannot be expected to manage the day-to-day execution details of strategy. Someone or some organizational function must do that.

The answer to how an OSM is normally established varies, but typically may evolve from the initial appointment of a Chief Strategy Officer and grow organically as more resources are needed to keep up with the scope of the office. The strategy officer defines the job and sets the tone for what the OSM might someday be.

A strategy officer is typically responsible for driving strategic planning and interacting with business units and functions during that process. A strategy officer should also provide support in operational planning by ensuring that business units have the knowledge they need and the tools required to develop tactical plans that support alignment with the corporate strategy.

The strategy officer also normally serves as the glue that helps disparate business functions work better together. Through involvement in the corporate strategy development and then later involvement in operational planning, budgeting is attenuated with strategy and more importantly with fiscal operational plans.

How ? Enterprise, division, line-of-business and departmental budgets determine the resources that can be invested towards a strategy goal achievement. Goal time-frames may not be accomplishable if financial resources are too limited or, worse yet, do not exist in key areas of the enterprise ecosystem. During operational planning, financial constraints will begin to emerge and must be resolved.

The strategy officer can work with the organization’s CFO to help in this regard. Sometimes that means that plans must be scaled back or adjusted to reflect the limits of capacity to meet goal objectives in certain areas of the organization without additional investment by the enterprise.  In any case, finalized budget allocations allow the detailed aspects of the plan to be developed fully and be realistic with organizational capacity.

Summary :

The Office of Strategy Management can be a very effective corporate function to help close that gap between strategy and execution. An OSM is usually responsible for overseeing all strategy-related activities ranging from formulation to execution. Whether an OSM begins as a single individual or is established initially as a small team, CEOs and executive teams can benefit by realizing improvements in strategy implementation. A such, an OSM can be initiated as soon as the organization begins to formally perform strategic planning.

“Concocting the Right Business-Strategy”: Organizational Value-Quadrants (OVQ) | by: Joe Evans | Executive Street


A cornerstone of ” Corporate-Strategy ” is knowing your organization’s True Value-Proposition and using that knowledge to innovate the business-model so that existing customers can be better served and share of markets can be extended. Developing effective strategy requires business leaders to examine their value statements and to learn how to utilize and navigate the Organizational Value Quadrant (OVQ) model. 

The FOUR Quadrants of organizational value define distinct operating models that relate the company’s positioning relative to the markets served by the business. Knowing which quadrant your business lives in and understanding how to navigate within the OVQ form the backbone of every strategic plan. This article explains the organizational value quadrants, and what they mean to a business in terms of strategy and investment.

” Value Proposition”; how well do you know it and live it ? :

For any business, understanding the company’s value proposition is the first step in strategy formulation and must be addressed as a key input to the OVQ discussion.A value proposition can be thought of a business or marketing statement that summarizes why a consumer should buy a product or use a service. In essence, this statement should help the firm connect with a potential target market in a way that differentiates a particular product or service as to how it will add more value or solve a problem better than other similar offerings.

The purest THREE Elements of a value proposition are – 

  1. The connection – What is it that makes the product or service inspirational and innovative? The connection must compel the customer to want the product and say, “I need this”.
  2. The differentiation – What is it that makes the product or service indispensable? The differentiation should help eliminate the thought of substitutes in the mind of the buyer.
  3. The substantiation – What facts can you state about the product or service to help create credibility and trust? The substantiation should help the potential buyer to believe in the product or service and take action. 

Organizational Value Quadrants

Organizational Value Quadrants (OVQ) : 

Businesses operate on models designed for value creation that are in alignment with their stated value propositions for each class of products and services. While the value proposition helps communicate the marketing and sales message, the business model must deliver the value promised. That leads to the discussion of value quadrants.

Strategists should always be thinking in terms of value quadrants when considering their firm’s competitive positioning. Method Frameworks focuses on four primary quadrants to classify the business model a company is following.

Each quadrant represents the focus of a company or business unit and can be thought of as the strategy and business model generally being followed. Below is a synopsis of each Quadrant: 

The Customer Intimacy & Synergy Quadrant – Companies operating in the Customer Intimacy & Synergy Quadrant focus on the customization and tailoring of products / services. Their missions are geared toward know their customers well, delivering what specific customers want and “personalizing” the experience.

Customers of businesses in this quadrant have the expectation of a close relationship that is solution-based for their needs. In return, they are willing to accept a higher cost for the goods or services they are purchasing.

The Operational & Organizational Excellence Quadrant – Companies operating in the Operational & Organizational Excellence Quadrant focus operational efficiencies, supply-chain optimization, maintaining low overhead and accomplishing more with lean structures. Their missions are focused on creating predictability in delivering quality, low price, no-hassle purchase experiences and ease of use.

Customers of businesses in this quadrant have the expectation of low cost and best pricing. In return, they are willing to accept less in the areas of service and relationship intimacy.

The Customer Enrichment & Fulfillment Quadrant – Companies operating in the Customer Enrichment & Fulfillment Quadrant focus on helping their customers reaching and fulfilling their potential. Their mission themes relate to creating better lives for their customers and the opportunity for self-actualization.

Customers of businesses in this quadrant have the expectation of enjoying an experience and learning through exploration and discovery. In return, they are willing to accept a higher cost for the goods or services they are purchasing.

The Product / Service Superiority & Innovation Quadrant – Companies operating in the Product / Service Superiority & Innovation Quadrant focus on creating superior or unique “One-of-a-Kind” value-add services or products. Their missions are geared towards innovation and creating the best products and services available in their class.

Customers of businesses in this quadrant have the expectation of receiving high quality and benefiting from innovation in the products or services being purchased. In return, they are willing to accept a higher cost for the goods or services they are purchasing.

Utilizing The Quadrants In Strategic Planning :

Each quadrant groups companies relative to their value propositions and respective customer expectations. Most companies standardize on a business model and force a fit of that model to all their customers. Although it may seem illogical to combine a strategy of individual service (custom-tailored and expensive) with a model of operational excellence (where cost-minimization requires a high degree of process standardization), it can and has been done successfully. A business does not have to be entirely committed to an exclusive relationship with only one category and can use strategy to navigate and position themselves in different quadrants of the OVQ.

Sales organizations have developed impressive sophistication in analyzing their customers and segmenting them appropriately. Likewise, CFOs are highly tuned into profit analysis and many have developed the equivalent of “heat maps” for profitability. Together, they have analyzed their sales and profit data and have developed a clear understanding of which customers are providing them with high sustained profitability. With this combined insight, customer segmentation can then be applied to strategically approach these profit areas with segment sub-strategies. Segment strategy can be applied to invest resources in securing and growing key customer relationships through integration of the company’s operations with those of the key customer’s in a tailored  and effective approach. When this approach is followed, the investments can result in lowering key customer’s cost while increasing the profits of the supplier business.

Customer integration within a value quadrant can be accomplished by tuning customer inventories, smoothing order patterns and even deploying substitute products in carefully-selected situations. The key is to partner with key customers and shift the focus of supply chain efficiency initiatives from optimization solely within the organization’s supply-chain ecosystem to an optimization of the joint vendor-customer supply chain domain. This shift creates enormous new efficiencies for both organizations and helps increase the cost of switching vendors for the customer in the future.

The example above illustrates how an organization can straddle both the operational excellence and the customer intimacy quadrants. With strategic positioning companies can begin to dominate in other quadrants through the creation of other differentiated serving models for important customer segments. Through careful strategic planning and follow-though in execution, a business can actually implement and sustain multiple parallel service models to operate successfully across quadrants.


Business leaders must begin with a clear and realistic understanding of their value proposition, the first step in strategy formulation that must be addressed as a key input to the Organizational Value Quadrant analysis. A value proposition can be thought of a business or marketing statement that summarizes why a consumer should buy a product or use a service.

The purest THREE Elements of a value proposition are the connection, the differentiation and the substantiation. While the value proposition helps communicate the marketing and sales message, the business model (represented by quadrants of the OVQ model) must deliver the value promised. Each quadrant represents the focus of a company or business unit and can be thought of as the strategy and business model generally being followed.

The FOUR primary quadrants to classify the business model a company are : 

  1. Operational & Organizational Excellence
  2. Product / Service Superiority & Innovation
  3. Customer Enrichment & Fulfillment
  4. Customer Intimacy & Synergy 

Most importantly, a business does not have to be entirely committed to an exclusive relationship with only one category and can use strategy to navigate and position themselves in different quadrants of the OVQ…


“Get Personal” to “Acquire & Retain Top Talent” : Talent Management |by: Linda Finkle | Incedo Group


Acquiring top talent is tough. Once they are on board you don’t want to lose them. And you want to be sure they perform well in your organization. How do you make this happen? It’s more than luck, crossing your fingers and assuming it will all be ok…

You Must Get Personal :

To retain your top talent you must get personal. I’m not necessarily talking about finding out about their kids or what they do when they aren’t working, though this can be important also. When I talk about getting personal I mean getting to really know them. This includes their skills, their career aspirations, what’s important to them in their professional life and how that meshes with their personal life.

What would you do differently if you knew that one of your key players wanted to expand their skills? Or they were interested in management opportunities? Or they had the desire to move into a C-level position? Would it change how you mentored and coached them? Is it possible that you would watch them more closely and be their corporate champion? I’m betting the answer is yes.

Getting Personal, Really Personal :

Statistics show that people stay at organizations because they feel connected to their manager. Connection comes when employees feel that their manager has their best interest in mind. It also comes when people feel they are important to their manager.

How does a manager demonstrate to others that they are important? Recently I conducted a survey for a client on this topic and several common themes came to the surface.

  • Employees want a manager that will help them develop new skills and expertise 
  • Knowing their managers have their back 
  • Feeling like their managers know and remember personal things about them 

Little things really mattered. When employees felt like their manager asked about their kid’s sports tournament or their spouse’s new job or their parent who was ill…all those pieces that are part of our lives, it made them feel connected to their manager.

The message here is take the time to learn about what is going on in the personal life of your employees, and then remember to ask. It matters.

Mentor, Coach, Advise and Share :

If you want top performing employees you have mentor, coach and advise. This is especially true for your retaining your top talent.

The most talented people on your team want to get ahead. They want to know where they are brilliant, and where they need to improve. This means you have to take the time to mentor them, coach them and tell them what they need to acquire in terms of skills or experience to get to the next step. It’s about getting personal really taking the time to share with them what you are observing about them so you can help them achieve their goals.

Getting personal with your employees improves their performance and has a huge impact on your retention. Zig Zigler had a famous quote I use often. “You can have everything in life you want, if you just help enough other people get what they want.”

You can’t help them get what they want unless you spend time getting to know them…

“Scaling-Up” is a “Problem of Both More & Less”:Getting to More without settling for Less | by: Robert I. Sutton | H B R

Huggy Rao and I like to refer to scaling challenges as the “Problem of More” because they always involve getting some existing seed of excellence to take root in more people and more places.

The language of “more” pervades discussions of the topic. Ask any group of executives or nonprofit leaders about scaling, run a web search on “scaling” or “taking to scale,” pore over articles, cases, or research on the topic, you’ll find the dominant words and phrases have to do with addition and multiplication: grow, expand, propagate, replicate, amplify, amass, clone, copy, enlarge, magnify, incubate, accelerate, multiply, roll it out to the masses, and so on.

Venture capitalist Ben Horowitz of Andreessen Horowitz kicks off an inspired post on scaling by quoting the rapper Dorrough, who tells anyone with “a dollar in your pocket, a twenty in your wallet” to focus on one thing: “Get big. Get big. Get big. Get big”…

Yet scaling is also a problem of less. A hallmark of skilled leaders and teams is that, as their organizations grow larger and older, as the footprint of a change program expands, they keep looking for signs of once useful but now unnecessary roles, rules, traditions, processes, products, strategies, and services. To borrow a phrase from author Marshall Goldsmith, they remain vigilant about “what got us here, but won’t get us there.”

A simple example is the all-hands meeting. When an organization is small enough that each member can have a personal relationship with every other, or at least recognize their faces and names, gathering everyone for regular meetings strengthens social bonds and bolsters the feeling that “we are one company.” But an intimate gathering with, say, 500 of your best friends isn’t feasible. My colleague Andy Hargadon noted this when he did an ethnography of the renowned innovation firm IDEO in the 1990s. When the company had 60 or 70 people working at its Palo Alto headquarters, founder and then CEO David Kelley (now Chairman) did a masterful job of orchestrating the “Monday morning,” a weekly 9:00 am gathering. After a brief opening with perhaps some news about the company, a self-deprecating story about himself, or a bit of indiscreet but juicy gossip, Kelley, a skilled facilitator, spent the rest of the meeting calling on people to describe new projects, introducing newcomers, recognizing birthdays, and asking if anyone had seen a good movie or discovered a new technology. Week after week, the field notes revealed that nearly every person in the room contributed at least one comment or joke during these 60-minute gatherings. But once IDEO grew to hundreds of Palo Alto employees, even Kelley couldn’t sustain the intimacy. The Monday all-hands meeting became a vestige of the past and was replaced with smaller gatherings organized around studios and design practices.

As an organization or project grows, and as its challenges change, it not only needs to recognize new priorities, it needs to delete or de-emphasize old ones. Scaling becomes a problem of less because humans and human organizations can only handle so much cognitive load. In other words, successful scaling means finding ways to limit the number of things that people are expected to focus on and execute.

A company that Huggy and I have been studying in recent months called BuildDirect uses an intriguing approach to help its people do this. BuildDirect was founded in 1999 by CEO Jeff Booth with his good friend Rob Banks. Booth and Banks each invested $20,000 to start a company that could ship heavy home-improvement products more efficiently. The company has adopted an Amazon-esque strategy; it now owns and operates twelve large warehouses well located to deliver loads of flooring, roofing, and other heavyweight building materials to do-it-yourself homeowners and contractors. The average order size is 1,500 pounds. Early on, BuildDirect had its setbacks and near-death experiences, but in each of the last four years growth has accelerated. Sales doubled in 2013. And after withering down to 40 employees during the 2008 housing crisis, the company now has 175 employees. Just a couple of weeks ago, BuildDirect received $30 million in additional financing led by Venture Capital firm Mohr Davidow. It intends to open two more warehouses and add 300 more employees in 2014.

My conversation with CEO Jeff Booth, and especially, interviews conducted at company headquarters in Vancouver by Stanford graduate student Rebecca Hinds, revealed that BuildDirect uses a dynamic approach to setting priorities. It was inspired by author Steven Covey’s “five rocks” lesson: If you have a fishbowl, five large rocks, sand, and some pebbles, the only way to fit everything in the bowl is to place the five large rocks in first. If you try to fill the bowl with pebbles first, the larger rocks won’t fit on top.

BuildDirect actually displays its “fishbowl” in a central location, so everyone in the organization can be reminded what its five rocks, or key areas of focus, are. These are revisited every two months, and when a new set of rocks is announced, any employee, regardless of the division they are part of, is able to recite the five priorities that should be guiding their thoughts and actions. As Booth explained to Hinds, “Once we make the decision for the five rocks, right or wrong, we’re going to live them for the next 60 days.” (Until 2013, the rocks were reevaluated every 90 days. But BuildDirect’s rapid growth forced a change to that because “90 days was an eternity for us.”)

Each 60-day stretch is followed by a short period of “white space,” including an offsite meeting where employees think strategically and propose new rocks. BuildDirect encourages its people to propose imaginative, off-the-wall, and even downright weird ideas. After all, the company would never have survived the housing crisis if it had been afraid to change its accustomed ways of doing things. Recently, a “white space” brainstorm yielded a clever new idea for marketing, to cobble together a system that could combine customer-behavior insights gained through email, social media, pay-per-click marketing, and other sources. Implementing the model would cost only $100,000 – so the project was quickly declared one of BuildDirect’s five rocks. Based on better customer retention alone, management estimates this innovation has boosted annual revenues by $10 to $20 million.

But obviously, to create space for any new rock, BuildDirect must remove an old rock. In 2013, after people there identified an inefficiency in the order fulfillment process, a plan to automate part of the process was formulated. But the team later determined that implementing the solution would place such a great burden on the small company that it couldn’t be a top priority at that juncture. Without denying that the inefficiency was a problem, BuildDirect decided to take that rock, at least temporarily, out of the fishbowl.

To help more people go about scaling in the way IDEO and BuildDirect have, Huggy and I have created something we call “the subtraction game.” When we do scaling speeches or workshops, we ask people to think (first individually, then in duos or groups) about a few questions: What was once useful but is now in the way? What is adding needless friction? What is scattering your attention? Then we ask them to pick one or two targets that are ripe for subtraction.

We’ve played the subtraction game with groups as small as 16 and as large as 250. These include “high potentials” from a large retail chain, hospital administrators from Norway, and groups of managers and administrators at Stanford University. And while this is just a quick 10- to 15-minute game, we’ve already heard back from teams that followed through. For example, a Fortune 500 company decided to continue it for a month (with the group of 50 executives we initially worked with sending their ideas to the CEO). As a result, many meetings were eliminated and shortened, payment processes were streamlined, redundant work was driven out. On the chance you might try this yourself, I should probably reveal the added motivation, which might have mattered more in a huge company than it would in an entrepreneurial setting. Right before the brainstorming began, the CEO announced that each executive had $5,000 of bonus money riding on what it produced.

Evidently it was worth it to him to put a lot of twenties in their wallets to get big. Get big! Get big! Get big !!

“Family CEOs Spend Less Time at Work”: Family vs Professional CEOs | by: Carmen Nobel | HBS WK

” CEOs who are related to the owners of family-owned firms work significantly fewer hours than non-family CEOs, according to a new study by Raffaella Sadun and colleagues. This is in light of the fact that longer working hours are associated with higher productivity, growth, and profitability”. 

Two years ago, the World Management Survey on Organizational Leadership reported that firms led by family CEOs (managers related to the family owning the business) are often managed badly, particularly those where a first-born son has inherited the role of CEO from the previous leader.

Now comes additional research showing that on average, family CEOs also work significantly fewer hours per week than other (non-family affiliated) CEOs. It’s an important finding because longer working hours are associated with higher firm productivity and growth, says Raffaella Sadun, an assistant professor in the Strategy unit at Harvard Business School who studies the curious relationship between managerial incentives and motivation.


“Family CEOs are a very interesting group,” says Sadun, co-author of the paper Managing the Family Firm : Evidence from CEOs at Work, with Oriana Bandiera of the London School of Economics and Andrea Prat of Columbia University. “On the one hand, it stands to reason that they should be super-motivated to work hard because whatever they do for the company adds to the wealth of their whole family,” Sadun says. “On the other hand, a CEO’s incentive to perform is in large part tied to what happens when he or she does not perform—a risk of getting ousted. But aligning a board to say we’re going to start looking for someone else is a lot more complicated when the board is made up of family members who are related to the CEO.”

Primarily interested in incentives for growth in developing countries, the researchers began their study in India, where a large portion of businesses are family-owned. But they ended up finding similar results with follow-up studies in Brazil, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In short, their study shows that family CEOs on average work fewer hours relative to nonfamily-affiliated managers in all the countries they studied.


To launch the study, the researchers hired 15 students in Mumbai to cold-call executives at more than 1,400 Indian manufacturing firms, asking whether they would be willing to take part in a study of how CEOs spend their time. Some 356 CEOs agreed to participate.

Of the sample, two-thirds of the CEOs were members of the family that owned the firm; they were labeled “family CEOs” in the study. The remaining third, not related to the owners, were labeled “professional CEOs.” (It’s important to note the difference between family CEO and CEO of a family-owned company, Sadun says. Indeed, not all family-owned businesses employ a family member as the CEO. Sam Walton founded and the Walton family still owns Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., for example, and the founder’s son Rob Walton is chairman of the board, but the company’s president and CEO, Mike Duke, is not a family member.)

For three months, the researchers collected time-use information through daily phone calls with each CEO’s personal assistant (PA) or with the CEO himself (99 percent of the sample consisted of male CEOs). On the first day of the week, a researcher would call the PA or the CEO in the morning, to collect data on the executive’s planned activities for the day. In the evening, and for the week’s subsequent evenings, the PA or the CEO would report the activities that had actually happened that day—along with the planned agenda for the next day. At the end of the three-month study period, the researchers conducted a short interview with each CEO to ensure that the daily reports matched with the executive’s recollection and were representative of his usual work routine.

Analyzing the data, the researchers looked separately at founder-CEOs (those who founded their family firm) and second-plus generation CEOs (those who inherited the role). They found that founder-CEOs and next-generation CEOs of family-owned firms logged 8 percent and 6.6 percent fewer hours than professional CEOs, respectively. Further analysis showed that a 1 percent increase in weekly hours worked by the CEO was associated with a 1.04 percent increase in firm productivity annually and a .1 percent increase in sales growth over a five-year window.

And while the study considered the possibility that some CEOs might work more efficiently than others, “we didn’t find any evidence that family CEOs were planning their time more effectively to maximize their time in the office,” Sadun says.


The researchers also took care to look for outside events that might affect the CEO’s cost of exerting work effort within the survey week, testing whether family CEOs were especially responsive to these “exogenous shocks.” They focused on two potential shocks: bad weather and big sporting events. “We were lucky,” Sadun says. “We happened to collect the data during monsoon season. At the same time, during the study period, India hosted the Indian Premier League. It’s an important event in the game of cricket. Superstars from all over the world come to play in this tournament.”

To gauge the effect of monsoons, the researchers looked at a sample week in which 192 CEOs in the study (118 family CEOs and 74 professional CEOs) experienced at least one day of extreme rain and one day of light rain. “What happens in India, especially in urban areas, is that when the monsoons hit, water fills the streets, leading to a lot of congestion,” Sadun explains. “Traffic becomes a nightmare. It’s like dealing with the worst snowstorm in Boston.”

According to the results of the sample week, family CEOs reduced their working hours by an average of 5.4 percent on days with extreme rain. Meanwhile, professional CEOs showed a positive (but not significant) 3.8 percent increase in hours worked.

The effect of the cricket tournament was a different story. The researchers looked specifically at the effect of playoffs, semifinals and finals, which all happened in the evening, starting around 8:00 p.m. (Indian Premier League games are different from standard cricket games in that they are condensed to just about three hours of play.) “On the day of the cricket match, they’d all leave the office by early afternoon,” Sadun says. “Regardless of whether they were professional or family CEOs, they’d all leave early, and according to our interpretations, they were all leaving to watch the game.”

However, the data showed that the professional CEOs on average planned their schedules accordingly on cricket match days—compensating for the early departure by increasing the hours worked earlier in the day. Family CEOs, on the other hand, worked fewer hours throughout the day.


Considering the finding that more CEO-hours worked yields more productivity and profit, the researchers wondered whether the CEOs in their sample simply couldn’t afford to delegate key duties to professionals who would be willing to work longer hours—and thus generate better results—than the CEOs themselves. Delegation is prohibitively expensive in India due to poor contract enforcement, the researchers explain in the paper. “If delegation costs entirely explain why family CEOs stay at the helm of their firms, we should observe no difference in the time use of family and professional CEOs in richer countries,” they write.

To that end, the researchers conducted a similar study among a large sample of some 800 manufacturing firm CEOs in Brazil, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The results were similar across the board. The difference between family and professional CEOs in terms of hours worked turned out to be about 11 percent in Brazil and 8 percent in the higher income countries.

There are certainly plenty of examples of high-profile family-owned firms like Walmart that employ non-family CEOs. For example, Christopher McCormick (HBS AMP 158, 2000) took the helm at L.L. Bean in 2001, the first non-family member to take on the title of President and CEO since the company’s founding in 1912. But overall, under 15 percent of US family firms are managed by non-family executives, according to the Family Firm Institute.

Sadun’s team plans to apply the findings of the family firm research in other studies on motivation…

“If you find family CEOs who are still controlling their firms and working less, even in a country like the United States, I think this is telling us that there is some fundamental, non-monetary benefit that they get from running their companies,” she says.

“It’s clearly not just about maximizing profits. It’s not just about how much they’re paid. And we just need to understand what’s going on, what the motivation is. Because we know that if we could target these groups of firms and improve their performance, there would be very important implications for business research and, most importantly, the economy.”

There is No…”One-Size-Fits-All strategy” in E-Commerce | Nielsen

As futuristic as it may once have sounded, having drones fly through the sky and deliver packaged groceries and other items to consumers’ doorsteps isn’t too far off in the future. Amazon.com is already hard at work on making this a reality, investing heavily in this technology to make same-day delivery a reality for its millions of customers. Flying drones aren’t landing tomorrow, but companies, brands and retailers are steadily devising digital strategies to meet evolving consumer needs and demands.

When it comes to U.S. consumer packaged goods (CPG), e-commerce is still in its infancy, accounting for roughly 4 percent of total CPG sales. The upshot, however, is that it’s growing at an unparalleled rate of more than 20 percent compounded annually. As companies like Amazon.com work to eliminate one of the key barriers to online shopping—having to wait for your purchase—the digital channel will capture a much larger share of sales in the future.

With increasing media fragmentation, changes in the retailing landscape and rapid growth in tablet and smartphone ownership, Nielsen expects purchase patterns to change significantly in the next 10 years. And that’s why retailers and manufacturers need to be strategic as they develop their digital platforms. In fact, believing that all digital shoppers are the same—and devising a one dimensional e-commerce strategy as a result—would be a mistake.



Despite the momentous growth of e-commerce in the U.S., only 30 percent of people shop for CPG digitally. And only half of these shoppers buy consumer products online. The rest use digital methods for information, research and price comparing. Ultimately, this group largely still makes its purchases offline. Understanding a shopper’s needs both on-and-offline is critical to strengthening a business across channels.

To better understand the breadth of shopper needs, Nielsen has identified seven digital segments, each with its own unique set of attitudes and purchase behavior. The segments range from technology-averse shoppers, who only shop digitally out of necessity, to digital advocates, who believe there are more advantages to shopping and buying digitally than in an offline environment.

For instance, the “non-planners” segment—those who often dash into a store and decide what to buy once they are there—currently spend 11 percent more in drug and mass channels and 25 percent more in convenience. “non-planners” don’t yet see digital as more convenient than brick-and-mortar, but do trust the online buying process and often feel there is better assortment and more value online. As the online market continues to evolve, retailers should keep a pulse on this segment : 

”Non-planners” are open to the idea of buying digitally (they make up 15% of total digital CPG shoppers) and they could shift their perceptions and shopping patterns if convenience for online retailers can meet what they are currently getting from brick-and-mortar (e.g., same-day delivery, ease of finding and paying for products, shopping list for ease of ordering etc.).

“Non-planners” spend about the same per trip when they shop online ($30 per trip) as when they shop in brick-and-mortar locations ($33 per trip). If a retailer can appeal to this shopper segment digitally, it’s less likely that they will lose these high-value trips to an online competitor.

Since this group tends to have larger families, there might be incremental revenue potential through larger basket-sizes online…

For good reason, the digital channel is capturing the attention of consumers, manufacturers and retailers alike. It’s a channel ripe for innovation and future growth. Today, only one-fourth of online shoppers think prices are better online; one-third think product assortment is better online; and one-fourth feel shopping for CPG is more convenient online than in store.

Right now, everyone (88%) is resistant to paying for delivery. But attitudes will evolve and, with that, so will online shopping and buying behavior. Companies can position themselves for success in this evolving digital shopping world by understanding the different types of digital shoppers, knowing how they interact with their categories, brands and channels and most importantly, understanding their motivations for engaging—or not engaging—in the CPG shopping world.

This in-depth understanding of the digital shopper will allow companies to optimize their digital strategies and position themselves for future success…