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COMMUNICATION WITHOUT PURPOSE
What is communication without strategic purpose?
It is like a cymbal being beaten incessantly without rhyme or reason.
It is the spam you don't want to receive.
It is the advertising in the television that you want to skip when it's on.
It is your company newsletter that is telling all the good news but not taking time to consider what bad news needs to be communicated too!
It is the talking without the regard for the needs of listeners.
It is empowering to talk and communicate in itself without the higher purpose of fulfilling one's life mission or organizational mandate.
Stop wasting your resources on one-way communication. It is good to build skills on communication but without alignment to the strategic objectives, it becomes a self-development crusade. It is just 'good-to-have.
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Remember, the film 'Dead Poets Society', where the teacher played by Robin Williams told the students to stand on their desks and ask them what they can see. This is where the famous line was quoted, Carpe Diem.
What do you see when things are upside down? Can you create something out of the vantage point?
I bet you can.
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THE ROAD TO VALUE
The road to value is paved with good intentions but a lot fall short of the actual desired outcomes.
For the performance-driven, short-term minded-organizations where quarterly performance is greatly prized and rewarded, the tendency is to have a tunnel vision, sort of blinders that tend to decrease the ability of management to think strategically, out of the comfort zone.
The value proposition is central to all high-performing organizations where resources are scare, the competition is tight, and the regulations/standards are getting higher and higher, both from internal as well as external sources.
Creating and maintaining the outstanding value provided to customers, consumers, target groups, clients, or stakeholder is a lofty but also an imperative to have. This what separate healthy and successful organizations from the pretenders and apathetic ones.
Executives and managers should ask themselves, what ever I am doing, will this add, expand, and increase value for the organization or not?
If you can trace your work to the overall organizational goals and objectives, the organization has equipped such alignment to happen. This alignment does not come by accident or any of the good coincidences. It is intentionally designed to focus all the resources to its desired outcomes.
Value leads to more excellence, efficiency, and effectiveness. Without clear, compelling, and solid value for the organization, for society, and for its target audience, the organization has lost 'its touch with reality' might be just cruising along, waiting for obsolescence.
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When people I met asked, are you concentrating on business growth strategy? I always say, not necessarily.
See, a lot of people confuse business strategy with business growth. Well, there is no way but advancing and moving up, right? But there are many complex questions around growth and strategy that need to be unpacked. It is not a simple proposition at all.
For now, the concept of business strategy is fundamental to any well-functioning organization, whether you are nonbusiness or a business entity. But it does not mean that it is about growth.
What is growth by the way? It is a fundamental question that the organization needs to ask. Where are you growing from? What does growth mean to you? It is bigger, better, more revenues, customers, worldwide distribution, becoming a business empire with acquisitions, etc. What does 'growth' mean to your stakeholders-shareholder, partners, customers, staff/employees? From where do you have to grow from? Where- is a good question to ask.
A colleague of mine who sits with me in a nonprofit advisory committee told her husband that they don't need to buy five more cows in order to grow. They run a cow/milk businesses as a family and that they founded it from the bottom up. Having five more cows do not constitute growth, to her it is just more work.
Correctly put, having more, bigger, better do not constitute growth at all. What are you actually sacrificing in order to get 'bigger, better, having more'? It is definitely a zer0-sum game because there is a question of scarce resources, time, energies, and attention.
What kind of growth are you pursuing? There is a myth that you have to grow superfast, big, and outdo all the competition at the same time. Peter Drucker, the best management strategist of all time, said that a growth policy has to distinguish between healthy growth, fat, and cancer. They are all growth but the last two are negative, deleterious growth.
Being obese as an organization is a temptation to have but not sustainable in the long run. More organizations are being 'fat' that actually not having real growth experience in their midst. The fat has to be trimmed off to pursue real growth objectives.
What economies, cities, and organizations need is sustainable long-term growth strategy, that consider the changes in the environment, their unique strengths, and the growth opportunity present in those areas.
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THE RELENTLESS MARKETER
For marketing your products and services, there are a few words for you, brave souls.
To be relentless in your belief that your product/service has a great value to offer. You have to believe it wholeheartedly in order that the buyer will not only know that you are truthful but you take great pride in what you do and the products that you market.
To be relentless that in our everyday work, you believe that there are many people that can benefit from your products/services that will improve their lives, whether professional, personal, economic, healthy, spiritual, or a combination of these.
If you don't believe in your own products and services, no one else will be convinced of its benefits, potency, relevancy, utility, and ease of use (other features!).
To be relentless is to provide outstanding customer service, before the sale, into the sale, and after-sales, building relationship so that the customer's needs are addressed and that they know they can count on you for help any time, whether they decide to buy from you or not.
For the best doctor, dentist, foot massage therapist, baker, lawyer, accountants- we go by the word-of-mouth and referrals from people we trust-our families, friends, and co-workers.
Referrals come from delighted clients and customers who are eager to spread the word because they were helped, their problems solved/alleviated, and their needs met. In other words, delighting the customer in your everyday work (not just when you are out there and banging the pavement) is paramount.
Whether you are on the phone, meeting new people, writing an email, in the subway or bus, queuing for that coffee, these are opportunities to market your products/services in a positive way- by telling them exactly why you love your own products/services.
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This is not about the legal profession or how the justice works in this country.
The reason for this metaphor is that some organizations refuse to become more accountable by having structures and systems in place that will permit more accountability, shared responsibility, greater transparency, thus creating a better managed entity. This is good for the shareholders, stakeholders, partners, clients, customers, staff, suppliers, contractors, donors, funders, collaborators, and other constituencies outside the inner circle of influence. This is good for reputation, image, credibility, integrity, and being trusted is always the best compliment.
There is the ideal checks and balance approach to ensuring that those who are in positions of power share the burden of decision-making, risks management, financial management, oversight with a committee duly elected/nominated to carry the responsibilities. There is a balance of power in a sense that no one person or group holds enough sway that could tip the organization to undesirable direction.
There are powerful clichés within organizations that tend to overrule the rest who are the 'silent majority.' Sometimes, they are the ruling minority and with that being said, can create move havoc than anticipated. For clichés to proliferate, there is an ideal environment for it. Sounds familiar?
When there are no clear accountabilities, lines of responsibility, agreed-upon performance evaluation, sound rewards and demerits, shared power structure, things can go sideways any time.
When one person becomes the proverbial judge, jury, and executioner, don't expect much from the organization that's only intention is to survive any coup d'etats or hostile takeovers. Or even yet, wait until the founder dies.
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The President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte had to use some very explicit strong statements to convey that the Canadian trash should be removed in the Philippine soil immediately.
Where on earth is this country going?
I came from the Philippines and decided to move to Canada on the basis that Canada is a better country over-all.
Yet, the current political, economic, and moral situation in this country leaves me thinking if this is the right decision.
Canada, a developed country cannot find the solution to this crisis in the swiftest, most diplomatic, apologetically way in a sign of weakness in governance, political will, and moral ascendancy.
If a contractor has failed on its responsibilities to deliver its services in international setting, that contractor has to be black-listed, its license revoked, and be publicly chastised, before there is considerable improvement in its work. With all the bureaucracy in the government, they cannot find who is responsible, accountable, and have the oversight on these issues. The government cannot say, 'this is not us, it is a private contractor's work."
Where is your oversight, excuse me? Washing your hands like Caesar only proves that you don't really care and instead of being truly sorry, you started finger-pointing.
The government of Canada is duty-bound to be a friendly and honorable member of the international community as the UN Charter imposes. Any thing that represents Canada to another country is either, a source of concern and pride, hopefully not a lot of the former. It is not a surprise, that with all the problems it is creating in the world, it is not safe to fly Canadian flags in another country any more or a sticker in a vehicle.
Who cares whether it was an act of government or a private contractor? When a crisis happens, correct the problem immediately, take the microphone and admit there is a problem and restore friendly relations back.
There is no time to do the blame-game and pretend the problem doesn't exist.
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CUSTOMERS KNOW THE STRATEGY
I was on a phone call last week talking to a major trade association staff. I inquired about the program I thought was still running and getting a lot of engagement from their membership based from the website page I viewed.
It turned out that that program did not exist anymore. It was terminated in 2015 after a few years running it due to many reasons. I inquired about other programs that they may have.
The staff, very knowledgeable about their association told me that based on their strategy, they would like to provide thought leadership through resources, information, knowledge products they produced on a regular basis. Because of this, they cannot be doing something else that might distract them or be contrary to this organizational goal.
Very well said.
I wish that a lot of organizations have effectively articulated and communicated where their organization is going and how to get there to all the vital organs of the organization, including the staff, volunteers, and key clients/customers.
As I was told, then I become more aware of their work and the kind of business strategies they have to operate effectively in this challenging environment.
The best strategies do not stay on the shelf, gathering dust. It is lived and experienced and harnessed by all the people and stakeholders that take time to develop and nurture them to shepherd its successful implementation.
I am a customer that is now more informed.