Just Seven Things

Exploring why and how we do what we do, and how we can do it better

Archive for the category “Management”

Elevator Pitch Methodology

A brilliant methodology for a good elevator pitch is described by Mike Southon in his FT Column. He first describes how in sales there is the concept of “golden nuggets”. He identifies that customers have very short attention spans and can only remember three things about your product whereas the average marketing team tries to cram 50 amazing features into your literature:

‘The problem is…. that as soon as you mention the fourth golden nugget, the first, and probably the most important one, drops out of their memory.’ The simple methodology for a good elevator pitch ‘centres around five ‘P’s: Read more…

How Rework Works: Review and Observations

A hooky bag of snippets. A simple collage of truths. Or a sophisticated framework for success communicated well?

Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson’s Rework – Change the Way You Work Forever, has left me with the above thoughts since starting. It has more momentum and flow than similar books that stick together ideas in short 2-page essays.

Some more direct quotes:

It’s the stuff you leave out that matters. So constantly look for things to remove, simplify and streamline. Be a curator. Stick to what’s truly essential. Pare things down until you’re left with only the most important stuff. Then do it again. You can always add stuff back in later if you need it.

Throw less at the problem. When things aren’t working… The right way to go is the opposite reaction: cut back. You’ll be forced to make tough calls and sort out why truly matters.

The core of your business should be built around things that won’t change. Things that people are going to want today and ten years from now. Those are the things you should invest in.

Sell your by-products. When you make something, you always make something else. Observant and creative businesses spot these by-products an see opportunities.

If you had to launch your business in two weeks, what would you cut out? The best way to get there is through iterations. Stop imagining what’s going to work. Find out for real.

Do everything you can to remove layers of abstraction. Get to something real right away. Reports, diagrams and specs take forever to make but only seconds to forget. They create illusions of agreement: a hundred people can read the same words, but in their heads, they’re imagining a hundred different things. When you get to something real right away…. That’s when you get true understanding. Get the chisel out and start making something real. Anything else is just a distraction.

Strategy as Stress Survival

Nearly thirty years ago the Thomsons sold out of print newspapers, selling The Times and The Sunday Times to Murdoch. In 2007 they sold their college textbooks arm for a $2bn premium, making an offer for Reuters with the proceeds in the same month Murdoch increased its newspapers exposure with its bid for Dow Jones.

The FT’s article (30/12/09, Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson) exploring family businesses and long-term strategic decision-making also highlights the importance of paranoia and values in business leadership.

Without long-term planning and the projection of risk exposures, a company cannot look to add value over time. Past this management speak though, a healthy self-awareness and translation of leadership team stress, paranoia and questioning into strategy evaluation and revision/ actions is fundamental.

Allan Leighton (sits on several boards, inc. Selfridges and BSkyB) is quoted in another FT article (6/1/10, Judgment Call – What is the right attitude for leaders to take this year?):

‘Stay close to the detail of your business, worry frequently, don’t be complacent, and look after your people. Survive and thrive.’

‘Business needs to adapt to the new realities and get on with driving momentum, being proactive and looking for ways to keep edging forward, remembering that flat is often the new up’

Strong leadership is not a one person game. The leader – in position because of knowing what those who would be led need to be led – drives both the momentum and the action, but should also drive the questioning. Historic decisions of even the last month should be re-challenged in light of all current data and experience.

The fulfilment of the mission and big hairy audacious goals should provide the direction and framework; this should equate with the company’s best ability to deliver total stakeholder return over time (defined in both monetary and non-monetary terms).

What happens day to day, week to week and month to month should be guided by a clear bridling of your stress and paranoia as a leadership team in pursuit of the right strategic decision-making/ revision-making.

Continually switching strategies or strategic procastination/ incontinence are both unacceptable. Continually questioning yourself and whether you are doing the right things now – based on your business values – to achieve your long-term mission, is a necessity.

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