Just One Thing

February 28, 2006

This week’s reading recommendation: The One Thing You Need to Know : … About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success Marcus Buckingham, the author, is like the rest of us – looking for “simple” answers while realizing the reality is complex. He, like me, was frustrated with the movie City Slickers when they never told us what the ol’ cowpoke Curly meant by, “I’ll tell you the secret to life. This one thing. Just this one thing. You stick to that and everything else don’t mean sh**.” “What’s the one thing?” Billy Crystal asks. “That’s what you’ve got to figure out.” replied Curly.

In this book, Buckingham gives us much more than just one thing – and it’s in large type so I don’t need my reading glasses 😉

As for the meaning of life, I think it’s whatever you make it (Oy! That’s almost as bad as “That’s what you’ve got to figure out” isn’t it?)


Strategy & Advertising

February 28, 2006

As Holly Buchanan notes, “Holy Cow. I’m speechless.” Well, not really (who, me?) She’s talking about the startling world-shaking news that the big ad agency Grey Worldwide has realized that it’s important to have a strategy (?!) Here’s part of what Grey had to say:

“In recent times, we’ve not had great clarity in our strategy. One of the huge wastes of time is to use creative teams to get to a strategic insight. That was often a problem on Mars (a former Grey account), where we’d work up 15 different commercials to get to the few that were right on,” said Mr. Mellors. “It would have been easier to start with a strong strategic brief.” Grey had strategic planners on staff, but they didn’t work together as a team.

Wow! If I were one of their clients, I’d be on the phone right now, asking for a big retroactive refund!

I grant you that “strategic planning” has gotten a lot of negative press – and justifiably so in many cases. Way too people have confused the means for the ends and consultants have numbed our brains with complicated methodologies that inhibit real work. But, if you’re creating without a plan – that’s rather like a surgeon deciding to start cutting and see what they find (Lots of interesting stuff in there!)

Holly’s got a lot more useful perspective, based on her background as a creative director – so click on over and read her entire post.

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Strategy in the rear view mirror

February 28, 2006

Over at Being Reasonable, Marc is talking about brand/marketing guru’s Al Ries’ proposed test for strategies: reverse them and see if the result applies to the competition. (And, yes, we all have competition – for both wallet and mind share of the customer/client/donor).

Marc adds his “acid test” Does it add up to a reason to choose you – and not the competition.

I’d add one more reverse point of view: Look from the results back. Can you see how the proposed strategy will produce – in a progressive, realistic manner – the results you need. Keep in mind that “need” is often very different than “want.” Also, Rome (or any great organization) wasn’t built in a day or even year.

And, a final overall “reality check” – Can you, right now, with the resources you have now successfully implement the strategy? If you’re depending on a contract, VC or funder to implement that “killer” strategy, you should likely rethink it. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a great strategy – and no business.


Thinking like a business.

February 16, 2006

Jim Collins’ monograph, Good to Great for the Social Sectors, highlights and reinforces a thought I’ve had all along. Why should non-profit organizations “think like a business?” All too often businesses have institutionalized mindless bureaucracy and are committed to mass mediocrity. That, and they often don’t respect their employees or their customers.

So, that’s why I alway say, “best practices” when talking with non-profit groups and clients. Business practices such as consistent processes, effective measurements, and boring ol’ record-keeping can help a non-profit get a grip on their issues, identify problems (or prevent them all together) and manage proactively.

Yet, even in the best organizations, there can be blind spots. Here are a couple I see often in strategic planning (in both the business and social sectors):

1. Addiction to methodology. “We’ve always done it that way.”
Well, why? Is it working?

2. Constantly trying that “flavor of the month.” One of the things that Collins notes as a key difference between the organizations who made the leap to great and those who didn’t is: The great ones were very committed and methodical. Sure, they set some scary goals and took some risks but they stayed the course. They didn’t abruptly change in a different direction when things got a little rough.

So, keep these in mind as you build (or renovate)your strategic plan.

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Can you move from good to great?

February 10, 2006

Reading recommendation: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t

Two key points:

1. Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you can be great. Which means some companies will have to stare cold hard reality in the face and make some difficult changes.

2. Both the great and comparison companies studied by the authors had strategic plans. The big difference was passion.

And for those in the social sectors, the authors have written a very short monograph that addresses your unique challenges. Good to Great and the Social Sectors: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great


Hello world!

February 8, 2006

If you’ve landed here looking for the Strategic Reality Group – you found us! But, we’re just getting started in building our online office using this easy WP software.

If you’d like to talk about your strategic plan and how we can help you make it reality – leave a comment below. And, you can always call me, Mary Schmidt, at 505-856-2551.