Tuesday, 2 February 2021

USEFUL TOOLS TO STRUCTURE YOUR BUSINESS, YOUR LIFE OR YOUR THINKING



USEFUL TOOLS TO STRUCTURE YOUR BUSINESS, YOUR LIFE OR YOUR THINKING

As a consultant, coach and mentor I support people or organisations achieve their goals. These may be business strategy, projects or objectives or more personal and individual pursuits at home, at work or in life. I have often found that some tools, if used loosely and flexibly can be valuable as a trigger for conversation, reflection and action. I say loosely because life should not be formulaic, but should be explored. Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men [Harry Day, the Royal Flying Corps First World War fighter ace]. In a modern context we might rephrase: Models should not restrict thinking but reveal possibilities, and it is the exploration of these that can bring opportunity and growth. In this article I will journey from business mission and vision to personal fulfilment travelling through the some useful models that may help us understand the components and formulate strategies to improve the process and outcome for either, and ideally both.

LEAN CANVAS

Lean Canvas is a great tool when working with customers to help them summarise their business mission, vision, dream or ambition. The real value for a Consultant, Coach or Mentor is that this offers a framework for discussion and some rigour in terms of coverage, yet at the same time is not too prescriptive. Below are two worked examples.
Here is a quick explainer of each Lean Canvas block (and in the order to go through them): 1. Problem Each customer segment (CS) you are thinking to work with will have a set of problems that they need solving. In this box try listing the one to three high priority problems that you CS has. Without a problem to solve, you don’t have a product/service to offer. 2. Customer Segments The problem and Customer Segments can be viewed as intrinsically connected — without a CS in mind you can’t think of their problems, and visa-versa. 3. Unique Value Proposition In the middle of the canvas is the UVP. A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered. It’s the primary reason a prospect should buy from you. A way to get your head around this is to think why are you different and why should your CS buy/invest time in you — further reading: Useful Value Proposition Examples (and How to Create a Good One) 4. Solution Finding a solution to the problem is the golden egg! You’re not going to get this right off the first bat — it’s OK, as that’s what Lean is all about. What you need to do is Get Out The Building — a phrase coined by the godfather of Lean Startup, Steve Blanks. And what Blank’s here is that the solution is not in your office, it’s out there in the streets. So go interview your customer segment, ask them questions, and take those learnings. Remember the Lean Startup is validated learning through a continual Build — Measure — Learn cycle. 5. Channels Channels are ways for you to reach your CS. And remember that in the initial stages it’s important not to think about scale but to focus on learning. With that in mind try to think which channels will give you enough access to your CS at the same time give you enough learning. Channels can be email, social, CPC ads, blogs, articles, trade shows, radio & TV, webinars etc. and BTW you don’t have to be on all of them, just where your CS are. 6. Revenue Streams How you price your business will depend on the type of model it is, however, it’s quite common for startups to lower their cost, even offer it for free to gain traction, however, this can pose a few problems. The key being it actually delays/avoids validation. Getting people to sign up for something for free is a lot different than asking them to pay. There is also the idea of perceived value. Further reading: Simple pricing strategies for your products or services, the lean way! 7. Cost Structure Here you should list all the operational costs for taking this business to market. How much will it cost to build / landing page? What is your burn rate — your total monthly running costs? How much will it cost to interview your customer segment? How much do market research papers cost? etc. You can then use these costs and potential revenue streams to calculate a rough break-even point. 8. Key Metrics Every business, no matter what industry or size, will have some key metrics that are used to monitor performance. The best way to help with this is to visualize a funnel top down that flows from the large open top, through multiple stages to the narrow end. A good model to help with this is Dave McClure’s ARRRR (aka Pirate Metrics) — further reading: Startup Metrics for Pirates 9. Unfair Advantage This is the most difficult to block to answer. However, do try to think about this as having an unfair advantage can help when it comes seeking partners & investors. Here is a great definition of unfair advantage: “The only real competitive advantage is that which cannot be copied and cannot be bought.” — Jason Cohen. Unfair advantage can be insider information, a dream team, getting expert endorsements, existing customers etc. So rather than think about adding something like “commitment and passion” as an unfair advantage (because it is not), think about what you have that no one else can buy.

BUSINESS PROPOSITION

Problem we are solving Solution

Key Metrics

Unique value Unfair Advantage

Channels

Customer Segments
Cost Revenue

7 S MODEL

The 7s model can be used when organizational design and effectiveness are at question. It can help all stakeholders to work towards agreement when there are differing opinions about how the seven elements should be aligned. It can be used as a good diagnostic took when looking at the mechanics of an organisation and asking systematically: What do we need to do here? At a push you could use a tool like this to structure your life. If you think of yourself as the captain of your ship or the leader of your household you might start to think about the people, property and process of your life like they were a business to be managed. Whilst this may seem incongruous or possibly manipulative to think of family, friends and fundamentals as something to be managed the counter-argument is that these things are too important to be left to chance and good stewardship is essential in life as it is in business.
  • Structure - Structure is the way in which a company is organized – chain of command and accountability relationships that form its organizational chart.
  • Strategy - Strategy refers to a well-curated business plan that allows the company to formulate a plan of action to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage, reinforced by the company’s mission and values.
  • Systems - Systems entail the business and technical infrastructure of the company that establishes workflows and the chain of decision-making.
  • Skills - Skills form the capabilities and competencies of a company that enables its employees to achieve its objectives.
  • Style - The attitude of senior employees in a company establishes a code of conduct through their ways of interactions and symbolic decision-making, which forms the management style of its leaders.
  • Staff - Staff involves talent management and all human resources related to company decisions, such as training, recruiting, and rewards systems
  • Shared Values - The mission, objectives, and values form the foundation of every organization and play an important role in aligning all key elements to maintain an effective organizational design.

The focus of the McKinsey 7s Model lies in the interconnectedness of the elements that are categorized by “Soft Ss” and “Hard Ss” – implying that a domino effect exists when changing one element in order to maintain an effective balance. Placing “Shared Values” as the “center” reflects the crucial nature of the impact of changes in founder values on all other elements.

The interdependency of this strategy development framework means that if one element changes, you will have to address the other six elements to analyze how the change affects them and to determine how each may need to change to keep organizational goals aligned.

Business uses of the McKinsey framework include:
  • Determining how your business will achieve targets and goals
  • Boosting productivity and performance
  • Putting a proposed strategy into effect
  • Facilitating the complexities of aligning departments and processes during mergers or acquisitions
  • Examining the effects of organizational changes within the company
  • Implementing policies to improve employee skills and competency

CULTURAL WEB

The Cultural Web is a tool used to map the culture of an organisation and is a way of seeing and understating the different influences that affect organisational. culture. It can be used to map existing culture and it can also used to map future. This, just like the 7S model above, could be applied to you personal life. Again it may seem incongruous or possibly manipulative to think of family, friends and fundamentals as something to be managed but it is all about relationships and behaviour whether that is in the business or home context.
  • Stories and Myths
    • What form of company reputation is communicated between customers and stakeholders?
    • What stories do people tell new employees about the company?
    • What do people know about the history of the organisation?
    • What do these stories say about the culture of the business?
  • Rituals and Routines
    • What do employees expect when they arrive each day?
    • What experience do customers expect from the organisation?
    • What would be obvious if it were removed from routines?
    • What do these rituals and routines say about organisational beliefs?
  • Symbols
    • What kind of image is associated with the company from the outside?
    • How do employees and managers view the organisation?
    • Are there any company-specific designs or jargon used?
    • How does the organisation advertise itself?
  • Control Systems
    • Which processes are strongly and weakly controlled?
    • In general, is the company loosely or tightly controlled?
    • Are employees rewarded or punished for performance?
    • What reports and processes are used to keep control of finance, etc?
  • Organisation Structures
    • How hierarchical is the organisation?
    • Is responsibility and influence distributed in a formal or informal way?
    • Where are the official lines of authority?
    • Are there any unofficial lines of authority?
  • Power Structures
    • Who holds the power within the organisation?
    • Who makes decisions on behalf of the company?
    • What are the beliefs and culture of those as the top of the business?
    • How is power used within the organisation?

LIFE WHEEL

In some aspects the Life Wheel combines much of what was in the 7S model and the Cultural Web and so it is logical to conclude our journey with this model. We have travelled from business mission and vision to personal fulfilment travelling through the some useful models that may help us understand the components and formulate strategies to improve the process and outcome for either, and ideally both.
This tool was created by The Coaches Training Institute (CTI) in San Rafael, CA. I have found it to be a very useful tool for assessing where coaching may be of benefit to you. To complete the assessment, print this page and follow the directions. Rate each area of your life on the wheel from a 1 (not at all satisfied) to 10 (completely satisfied/could not be improved on) by drawing a line across the corresponding number in that section of the pie and then shading below it. When you are done, you will be left with a jagged wheel that should effectively illustrate areas for growth. This is where coaching starts. What happens next is up to you. Tim HJ Rogers MBA CITP PROJECTS, PROGRAMMES and CHANGE / CONSULTANT MENTOR COACH Adapt Consulting Company Consult CoCreate Deliver Mob +447797762051 Tim@AdaptConsultingCompany.com Tim Rogers is an experienced Project and Change Leader. He is founder of ciChange.org and curator for TEDxStHelier.Com . Roles have included Programme Manager for the incorporation of Ports and Jersey, and Jersey Post, as well as Operations Change and Sales Support for RBSI/NatWest. He is also Commonwealth Triathlete and World Championships Rower. He has a passion for learning and has been a Tutor/Mentor for the Chartered Management Institute. He is a Chartered Member of the British Computer Society, has an MBA (Management Consultancy) and is both a PRINCE2 and Change Management Practitioner. USEFUL LINKS An Introduction to Lean Canvas https://medium.com/@steve_mullen/an-introduction-to-lean-canvas-5c17c469d3e0 Change Models http://www.timhjrogers.com/blog/compendium%20change%20management%20models.html#A8 The Wheel of Life: a great personal assessment tool https://strategic-solutions-coaching.com/wheel-of-life/

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