One of the many challenges facing business owners and managers is having the right “business tool” for the job.
In business we often have a range of tools, systems and processes that enable us to drive the operational
elements (CRMs, HR Systems, Financial Systems, Management tools, etc) but when it comes to developing strategy, we are often at a loss.
Over the last 26 years as a Business Consultant, I have amassed a number of powerful tools – most of them are in the Mindshop Toolbox. Below are five of my favourite Strategy Tools:
1. Draw your Vision – is a really simple concept that allows you to clearly articulate your thoughts and feelings around WHERE you would like the business to be. The old adage “…a picture paints a thousand words…” is really applicable here as you can convey a great deal of information in a simple format. And it is memorable and easily communicated to the Team. I have found that recall of the drawn vision is much higher than a written version. It doesn’t matter if you can’t draw – this isn’t an art competition – it is about the tactile process of drawing and converting your thoughts to pictures. Try it you’ll be stunned at the outcomes.
2. Strategic SWOT Analysis – This is a simple tool that is a great variation on the traditional SWOT Analysis that forms the Appendix in most business plans. Our variation on the standard tool, is to be far more strategic in developing your SWOT elements by asking the questions “Do our competitors have this Strength or Weakness?” and ”Are the Opportunities and Threats realistic?”. Asking these questions focuses the analysis on the elements that you can really use to make a difference. This tool is so powerful because it links the NOW (Strengths and Weaknesses) with WHERE (Opportunities and Threats) and generates a list of strategic actions that your business can take (the HOW). Watch the video for tips on how to apply this tool in your business. Used well, this is one of the most powerful tools you can have in your toolkit! It is the direct application of the NOW-WHERE-HOW model.
3. Competitive Advantage – most business managers understand the notion of Competitive Advantage but few people have a simple process for working out what it is. Our model works off the concept that Competitive Advantage is determined by understanding what it is your business does that “adds maximum value to your Customers” and that you also do “better than the competition”. Once you have your Competitive Advantage then you can apply it to your product/service strategies, pricing models, operational planning, sales, marketing and promotion. It is your key differentiator in the market. Watch the video to determine your Sustainable Competitive Advantage.
4. Product Portfolio Analysis – Few businesses take the time to analyse their portfolio of Products/Services and use a structured process to develop strategies for them. Most product strategy is developed on an ad hoc basis. PPA is a relatively simple tool that allows you view your product range and analyse the gaps. It also provides insights into how you can be more competitive in the marketplace. This is a powerful tool that you can use in a variety of ways to analyse products, services, markets and even customer groups. Watch the video for more insights.
5. Consumer Decision Making Model – how can you influence consumers to buy your product or service? Isn’t this the “Holy Grail” of business? My experience is that if you understand the process that consumers use to make purchasing decisions (even small ones) then you can create marketing and promotion strategies that drive consumers to buy your products. This model is a well researched process of steps that consumers move through when making a purchase decision. The larger and more complex the decision, then the more time they will spend at each step. Businesses that can position themselves to interact at each step in the process, will have a far greater chance of success. Watch the video for more insights.
Add these tools to your business toolkit and start using them to have a stronger strategic focus in your business. You can use them as separate tools, but my experience is that the real power comes from using them in a sequence where one tool builds on the next. Use the sequence above as a starting point to really leveraging the power of these tools.
Written by Russell Cummings – Strategic Business Development