Categories
Customer Strategy

5.03 — Customer Segmentation

Customer Segmentation

Do you know what the definition of work is? Work is about removing people’s troubles and worries. These people are called customers. Customers’ have different types of worries, because everyone is an individual. It would be easy if we could sell the same product to everyone! Then we could specialize only in one service or product. What could we do to get efficiency into our work? The answer, of course, is by segmenting customers into groups!

I have been doing segmentation work ever since 1996. For 11 years it was a full-time job for me, and now I create strategies. The goal of almost every strategy is to improve the organization’s segmentation and customer experience. I have a great desire to simplify complexity, and over the years it has become my passion. Now I will explain how customer segmentation can be simplified and how it can even be made into an art.

why segment customers?

Precision offerings. Why should customers be segmented? They need to be given an offer that tackles their need specifically. When the offer strikes the customer’s worry and need exactly, things run smoothly. I use the word worry, because the need is the answer. The customer has a worry, and we satisfy the need by providing a solution. The customer is happy that we got rid of their worry, and therefore they thank us by paying us.

More sales. Another dimension is, of course, our self-interest. We want more sales, because that’s the way our company grows. It is also the way we are able to pay everyone’s salaries. The more customers we are able to help, the better we have carried out our purpose. It isn’t necessarily only about sharing dividends to the shareholders. It’s about growing sales, helping customers, which is a fine societal task – You could even say our duty.

Better profitability. When we finally know how to compose offerings that tackle the customer’s need with precision, we can then make the whole process more fluent and profitable for ourselves. This creates a win-win situation between us and the customer. We both benefit a great deal from it.

Value for us and the customer, pyramid

Value for us. The customer base is often visualized as a pyramid. I have for many years simplified this work. Customers can be divided into groups according to their importance: Gold-Silver-Bronze, for example. To us, certain customers are Gold-customers, Silver-customers, or Bronze-customers. The trick is to divide the customers into these groups, based on how valuable they are to us in a monetary sense.

During a flight safety demonstration, it is mentioned that the oxygen mask should be put on yourself before helping others. If we don’t stay alive, we’re not capable of helping others. That’s why our self-interest comes first.

Customer needs. Another way to divide customers according to a customer dimension, in which customers are segmented based to their needs, which I earlier described as worries. This creates a segmentation model. I’ve learned not to make things too complicated!

Back in the day, we made a mistake by making the segments too detailed and intelligent in appearance. Because of this our customers weren’t able to implement the model. In the previous pyramid image, we divide it into six segments. For some companies even a six-way split can be a lot! A division by two vertical segments are usually a pretty good, sometimes three works as well. The next image has examples of various ways a company can segment its pyramid.

pyramid segments

Some companies may only have one segment, where every customer has the same needs. In addition, there are three value categories, and several varieties of them. Segmentation is often done intuitively, and after a moment of thinking the solution turns out to be completely different. It isn’t easy-peasy.

One option is to have one Gold-customer, all the rest being Bronze-customers. It’s also possible to have no Gold-customers. Services and offerings are usually tailored to them. Usually, consumer businesses only have Bronze-customers. For instance, McDonalds only has one type of customers. They have different products, but they deliver the same way to everyone.

After 10 years of doing this for a living, I decided to buy a marketing automation software. It taught me not to segment companies, but individuals. My head just about exploded!

Could it be, that even in B2B customer relationships selling should be aimed at individuals, persons, avatars? That’s human-to-human business. Suddenly, segmenting became even more interesting, but also more challenging. Which model would bring the most success?

segment modules

Drawing the above image took me 10 years. I often tried to explain this verbally, but I didn’t know how to describe it as an image. Then finally I succeeded! This image shows which products and services we sell to different segments.

There exists a basic model offer, that is grey and can fit for any customer. Then there is a white offer or service, which fits the first segment. The blue module only fits only the second segment, and those customers don’t want the white one.

When we rise to the Silver level, we can begin to tailor our services, because these customers buy more and they pay more. That’s why they can also be offered silver modules. Modules can be sold separately or they can be bundled into an offer. Some want solutions, others want to purchase the modules separately.

Gold level customers can be sold everything, in addition to a tailored gold module.

Care models.  On the right side of the image you can find the care models. There are many Bronze-customers, and they buy less. Bronze-customers need to have a well standardized care model, in order to optimize our service and to lower our costs. Nowadays these often are online businesses. As we go up to the Silver level, the care model consist of more tailored services and F2F communication. Gold-customers have a largely custom tailored care model.

Segmentation model. The catch is to do segmentation in two dimensions. Value for us and value for the customer. Products are built so that the customer gets an offer that precisely tackles their situation. Precision products are delivered with a care model, which are differentiated to varying degrees of extent.

As you see, this isn’t the easiest job in the world. I can, however, say that this is the simplest presentation I’m able to produce about this! The most challenging thing is to build the products. That is something that makes me humble, every time!

As many as seven versions are created in segmentation work before the iteration begins to slow down. There are so many options to choose from. If you segment like your competitors, you end up analyzing similar needs and services as them. If we look at this from a differentiation angle, it would be really good if you could group the entire cake according to specific criteria.

Precision offering is the trick. It creates happy customers who buy more, while our company grows and the work becomes more profitable.

Finding Us On Social Media

Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategic Leadership

2.04 — Agile Hybrid Organization

Agile Hybrid Organization

We held an amazing workshop online, and I’m so excited about it. We modified the strategies from the perspective of an individual and from a customer perspective. We came to a realization that we are building a hybrid organization. I need to share this with you. 

This image below is our old friend, the hierarchical organization. This style of hierarchy is not doing very well in the present day. Even though it has immensely good features, it also has great weaknesses.hierarchy

It’s interesting, that in a hierarchical organization everything needs to be flipped upside down every 3-4 years. A new CEO comes in and decides that things should be done the other way around, with the reason that the other way is “as it should be done”. Then after a while the same pattern repeats.

I have gained experience in this subject. No matter which organization model one creates, in a few years the cons grow bigger and the strenghts are no longer as strong as in the beginning. Because of this the model needs to be changed once again, which the CEO thinks is the biggest innovation. Sometimes the organization is organized into a matrix organisation, at other times the organization gets organized according to functions. It can also be something else, depends on what the CEO wants. That’s everyday life.

Let’s look at why the hierarchical organization is doing poorly.

hierarchy downsides

The main reason why hierarchical organizations are doing poorly is that they are slow organizations. The slowness comes from this. If I have a problem, I need to ask upstairs for permission. The bigger the issue, the higher up the person needs to go in the organization to get permission. If the issue goes flat, the response never comes back down. Decisions aren’t being made. Instead, the issue is left hanging in the air waiting for the next meeting. This causes the customer to suffer, because decisions are not made. Many draw the above model upside-down, so that customers are on top and the management are on the bottom. However, it’s only a semantic change. A hierarchical organization is slow, and doesn’t tend to cope well with the competition, who oftentimes are much faster to react and to decide.

Another problem with the hierarchical organization is that it’s less profitable. Say what? Exactly. When matters are sustainable, profitability decreases. Lead time isn’t fast enough and the inventory doesn’t move. Surprise, surprise! Higher profitability models exist! Profitability is everyone’s advantage, because salaries will continue being paid, customers are number one and the customers are happy. The owners, as well, tend to get more dividends because the company earns more money, which it doesn’t know how to invest properly, so the money is returned to the investors and owners as larger dividends.

The third problem is that the hierarchical organization is also expensive to upkeep. People need to be controlled and a huge amount of key performance indicators are created. What can’t be measured, doesn’t exist. Reward systems need to be looked at through the indicators, and that’s expensive. As you may guess, controlling costs money. That’s oversight in a nutshell. The more that needs to be measured, the more control measures need to be deployed, and that adds to costs. Simple, right?

The fourth problem is on an emotional level. The hierarchical organization is often demotivating. People don’t like having to wait and not being allowed to do what’s reasonable.

But, a hierarchy has its advantages.

hierarchy perks

First of all, it’s really clear and people desire clarity! People know exactly who’s where and who’s in charge of what. Hierarchy is fantastic in a crisis situation. You give orders, and that’s that. That’s pretty amazing. This ability can’t be lost! If it’s lost, we lose a lot. To many individuals, hierarchy is also the measure of success. If I go high up in the hierarchy, it’s pretty motivating, almost like winning an Olympic medal.

teams discuss and decide

Another organizational extremity is to not have a hierarchy at all. Instead, a team organization is created, where people are completely self-managing. This has already been in use since the 1950’s. It works! However, it needs common ground rules, so that things aren’t going all over the place.

what if the models were combined?

Quite many are scared to switch into a complete self-managing model. The word self-managing is in itself pretty bad. A business owner easily gets scared that people will just start doing whatever they want.

Visions of organization, Perttu Salovaara Thesis

I found the above image in Perttu Salovaara’s PhD Thesis. He named the image “Visions of organization”. It has two axis, co-operation and leadership. There’s not too much co-operation on the bottom level, only individualism. Co-operation begins in the middle, in teams, and spreads up to the top level.

The leadership axis has three stages. Is leadership completely top-down and lead from the outside? Or, is it involving, or are people given permission to self-manage? Salovaara came up with nine models. It’s a good image because the myriad of possibilities are made clear. It’s not so, that the next step from a total hierarchy is a total self-managing model. There’s so much in between!

At Stradigo, we consider simplification as part of our organizational DNA. I’ve wondered if Salovaara’s MATRIX could be simplified. That’s when the idea of a hybrid model struck me. What if we built a hybrid, in which hierarchy and team leading are combined?

hybrid organization

Let’s build a hybrid organization with self-managing teams. The hierarchical organization stays in the background. That’s when we have a spine and agile teams. Teams are where most of the work is done. Teams come and go, as necessary. The home team, of course, is where one works the most, but in addition to that, there are many other teams one is a part of. They are on top of the hierarchy.

In a world like this, it isn’t important to communicate through the hierarchy. Anyone can speak to whom they like without the manager getting upset. Please, don’t get upset! People must trust themself and their leadership skills in order to not mind this taking place, that is, if their boss chooses to go past you, for example, by talking directly with your subordinates. The decision is made where the best information is.

When I presented this idea at one of my clients, the idea immediately got a round of applause. The hybrid model is therefore a most natural thing! People said that, yes, this is how it is, this is already how we operate. So, let’s make it formal! Let’s make the organization both clear and agile!

explaining hybrid organization

Now quick decisions can be made where the information is. When hierarchy retreats into the background, but doesn’t fade, and people are allowed to do what’s reasonable, a level of autonomy is created that is strongly motivating. Control improves, because the team members control each other, so that the team makes reasonable decisions.

As a young man I used to work at Nokia Electronics. No-one knew in which direction the world was going, as the new area of business was developing rapidly. A “Let all flowers bloom” culture spread throughout the company, yet there was a hierarchy, and it was in the background. It didn’t interfere with practicalities.

individual has several roles

Because an individual is a member of several teams, they have plenty of different colored t-shirts in their bag. One team has a certain colored shirt, and when a person switches teams, their t-shirt color and role changes. This has been studied around the world.  According to one study one person had approximately 6,8 roles. Therefore, we all have many roles, perhaps even seven, like in the image above.

If you’re a CEO of a company, you, as well, have many different roles. One role is active when you’re a member of the board. Another role is when you’re leading your own management team. The third role is when you’re speaking to a customer. The fourth role is when you’re speaking to the investors, and so on. You might also be a part of several customer projects as a great salesperson. All of us have many roles just like this, no matter what role or responsibility we happen to have at any one given time.

How are the roles defined?

 

 

This is a question I’ve been asked many times. I always say that there’s no specific person that defines the roles. WHAT?! Let people define the roles for themselves!

Define the roles yourself!

A senior HR consultant once told me: 

“You know, Markus. Half of Finland’s HR people write standing orders, and the other half tries to implement them.”

It’s completely useless, if roles and their definitions are written down somewhere. The definition of the work changes constantly! Let people define their roles for themselves, within the appropriate boundaries, of course. The definition creates the lines, but after that, write your own work definitions! Team members write a card on a common digital board, in which the role is shortly described. Everyone gets to pick a sensible and pleasant role for themselves. The team discusses what needs to be added and agrees on it.

our job is to help customers

One must remember that our job is to help the customers. That’s why the company exists. It’s the big sun and the purpose. People share in this purpose, and agree that it is important, and they rejoice since they can help.

sense and react

When a team exists, it must sense and react immediately to the customer’s needs. That’s when the team is doing well.

Nothing new!

Everything I’ve told you isn’t new information. This is actually about making documentation transparent. There are millions of self-managing teams all over the world. Since the 1950’s humans have created a new way to organize. Hierarchy and self-management have existed, and there is a great deal of companies that work as a hybrid. The transformation, however, can be slightly painful, if a proper Gamebook isn’t written.

game book, hybrid organization

One must define a handful of central ground rules: For example, in soccer it’s not allowed to kick other players in the legs, and only the goalkeeper can catch the ball with their hands. Some rules are needed, in order for these two organization levels to work well together.

I have facilitated the transformation of a Finnish company into a self-managing model. I suspect that this is among the first transformations in the country, perhaps even the very first. No matter what the truth of the matter is regarding this “firstness”, it is not that common to see these types of transformations in practice. This is quite a new thing after all! What happened after the transformation? This organization’s profit grew with two million euros in their first year post-transformation. We have also created many Gamebooks to tens of organizations.

What kind of rules give us and our customers the WOW feeling? It’s funny that WOW actually stands for Way-Of-Working. New central game rules should be written down in the Gamebook! I always tend to use volunteers for this.

A Gamebook is needed to make all this work out in practice.

Long live the hybrid!

IGNITE YOUR STRATEGY! 🔥

Finding Us On Social Media

Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategic Planning

1.07 — The Company Purpose

The Company Purpose

Today I will talk about something really powerful, which will allow your company to take off.  I’m talking about the purpose of the company.

why does a company exist?

First, let me ask you a question. Why does a company exist? What is the point of it? The answer, which you give spontaneously, centers on the core of your culture. There are many ways to answer this question. In my opinion, however, one answer can be better than the other.

Why do customers buy from us?

Let me rephrase the question. Why do customers buy from us? Is the answer to this question the reason why our company exists?

why do people work with us?

Another question. Why do people work with us? Is this the point of our existence or is there a greater idea behind the company?

Why have people invested money in us?

Why have investors invested their money into our business? Is the ultimate reason to earn money for the investors, who have risked their money? Some would say, of course! Others say that it is necessary, because without investments the company would not exist. Correct, people take out their invested capital by selling their ownership, if they think the returns on their investment are not sufficient. Likewise, the investors tend to prefer the company to increase in value over time.

It is also possible to think, that the company exists because all the stakeholders – the owners, the customers and the employees – believe and care deeply about what the company is trying to achieve.

A belief in good

They can believe, for example, that the business idea can truly make the world into a better place, and create value for themselves, the customers, and the owners at the same time. This way the company also contributes tax revenue for the government, which naturally it likes very much. The government then does with the tax revenue what the bureaucrats and politicians think is necessary. Tax revenue expenditure is a controversial topic, let’s not talk about that beyond this point.

the purpose

We have a purpose! The purpose is above all other things in importance. If customers feel like they receive a lot from us, then we, the staff, enjoy our success. The customer buys more from us, and the owner of the company sees that money is flowing in like water flows into the faucet from the tap. The invested capital is generating returns!

I must add, that the investor can be a young family that has invested all of their extra little money they have, in us. The investor must, of course, receive something in return for the risk they have taken upon themselves. Charity is something else. It’s not rude to give people compensation as thanks, it’s the decent thing to do. They have taken on risk and invested their financial capital in us, who are working towards a worthy cause, and they are helping us by investing their money into our cause. So, let’s be grateful for this investment and pay the investors dividends as thanks when appropriate, and increase the value of our company for everyone’s sake.

Purpose into a context

mission arrow vision

I’ll explain how this can be presented as a concept. Everyone in business has encountered the words vision and mission. Both words are controversial and usually people understand them differently. Sometimes people get the word definitions mixed up. Many use the words without a clear shared understanding. This is why we launched a new way of thinking, by combining mission and vision together into a single word. This is when we started to use the word purpose.

mission vision purpose arrows

I’m talking about the word Purpose. You lead a company with it.

 

 

I have shown these two opposite models to twenty customers during a strategy preparation process, and asked, which model they would like to use. The classic mission-vision model, or the simplified purpose concept? Everyone has agreed that Purpose is the winning path forward for them. They have understood that the purpose concept is the winning path to a successful future for their business.

purpose = mission + vision

The above equation, that describes the situation, is absolutely solid in its clarity. Purpose equals mission + vision. Let’s dive into this equation more thoroughly.

purpose

Let me introduce you to the sun model. This metaphor is something I came up with on my own, but the idea itself comes from Cynthia Montgomery, a Harvard Business School professor, who has written the book Strategist. This book mentions something she calls System of Advantage. She uses a steering wheel for visualization, but I realized I can use my own sun symbol, which I have used for years in other situations. This created the Purpose concept. The purpose concept portrays how the company purpose shines onto our daily tasks and how it affects our everyday life.

Our tasks are located between the rays of the sun. The space in between are practically speaking various sectors. Each sector can be labeled as things like customers, products, services, sales, pricing, logistics, finance etc. Everything is there.

purpose concept

The company purpose has to be clearly visible inside the different tasks. Implementation can take place on different scales, which means some tasks have come further in adapting the company Purpose. Some tasks haven’t come as far as the others.

If this is our Purpose now, what is like in the future?

purpose concept

In the future the sunbeams will shine stronger and reach further. Our “vision” is to complete the process in these different tasks inside the sectors. However, if the first sun image is the current situation (which often is referred to as the company mission) and the second picture (visible above) is the “vision”, aren’t we talking about the same thing? The Purpose doesn’t change, it only becomes stronger as the company moves into the future.

Here is a case. I have crystallized this myself, so this isn’t an official slide. It is pretty good nevertheless. Look at the bullet points, and try to recognize what company it is. Start by reading the circle in the center: “Stylish furnishing for the many”. Then proceed to read the text inside the sectors. Customers have small living spaces and appreciate design. Prices match the wallets of many. A restaurant is at the front of the department store. Which company is this?

 – IKEA, of course!

Cynthia Montgomery uses IKEA as a case example. IKEA has, as a business, created an unbeatable concept that has a long-term competitive advantage, a Sustainable Competitive Advantage. Any furniture company is able to copy any of these bullets, which I call gold grains. Any competitor can try to imitate any single golden grain, like the restaurant concept, but will the competitor be able to perfectly imitate every single golden grain that IKEA has? Practically speaking no, that’s impossible.

The whole IKEA concept is deeply embedded inside the company culture, that it’s impossible to imitate effectively.

Also, Ingvar Kamprad created a foundation, which owns IKEA. The fact that IKEA is owned by the foundation prohibits it from being sold to a third-party. IKEA can’t be bought. If you try to copy them, you are many steps behind by the time you think you are done. Meanwhile IKEA has improved its concept and gone further. What a way to create a competitive advantage by building it on golden grains!

Almost all customers I work with have said, that they are lost with the idea of differentiation. What makes us different from the others? I answer by using this example of gold grains: If you’re in the forest looking for a lump of gold, you’ll never find it. The Californian gold rush ended ages ago. The big lumps of gold have already been collected. These days it is not a good idea to try to rely on one thing, one golden grain. Instead, put some effort into finding 30 grains of gold. When you combine them together you end up creating something unique. This will create a sustainable competitive advantage for you.

When you have a Purpose, you learn to adapt it to what you are doing and you create a sustainable competitive advantage from several golden grains. Pretty amazing when you think about it.

This means that you can build a whole strategy with Purpose as a guideline. Once you have a clear purpose concept you can effectively choose what will be the most important focus areas in your strategy.

purpose-based strategy

The Company Vision. When I ask Finnish companies what their visions are, I know their answer already in advance. How come? Everyone’s vision is always the same. They want to be No. 1. When I ask them: Isn’t the number 1 spot a position? They answer, yes. Then I ask them a follow-up question. Who gives you this status? They answer, the customers! Then I ask another follow-up question. What is the great thing you do, that allows you to earn the right to be No. 1? After that question the room usually become eerily quiet. The conclusion is that it is not clear what golden grains make up the company purpose.  

challenge of differentation

I encourage you to build this system, because then you are able to overcome the challenge with differentiation. Recently I introduced this idea to a public company, and both the CEO and the board got really excited about the approach.

This is how the whole concept can be represented. This is good, in the sense, that it can be easily communicated both to the staff and to the customers. If we aren’t excited about our Purpose, how on earth is the same purpose going to be exciting for the customer? Customers realistically only become excited about what we do if we ourselves are excited about what we do.

Dear friend, create the sun model for yourself! Ignite your strategy! That is how you achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. Your staff will radiate with joy and excitement and the customers are thankful for it. Your customers will give you’re your well-deserved reward, which means deals and money that flows into your business. This is a win-win situation for everybody involved!

Finding Us On Social Media

Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Customer Strategy

5.02 — Digital Sales for Dummies

Digital Sales for Dummies

For ten years I have put an enormous amount of energy and time into understand what digitalization means in communication, marketing and sales. Also, I have invested a great amount of money. Luckily, some of the investments have borne fruit. I have frequently visited the United States and London and found the best people who are at the top of their league in digitalization.

It has been my great ambition to produce this text. Now I will tell you what the point of digital sales is. In my opinion it’s as big as the invention of the telephone. Phones have existed for years, but very few understood their power in the beginning. Let’s look at what digital sales is.

Point number one is that this thing called digital sales exists. Everyone wants hot leads in B2B marketing. Where do the leads come from?

From marketing, of course. The purpose of marketing is to bring hot leads to sales, and then it’s the sales’ job to close the deal.

In the old world the lead could come from trade fairs in the form of a business card. What if the lead isn’t hot, but lukewarm? Or cold? I have the business card, so who cares?

The question is: Can I nurture the customer with scalability? Think, if I could nurture a big group of customers… I’m talking about a massive group, even thousands of people! That would be intense!

This is what it’s all about in digital sales: We can nurture thousands of people on a weekly basis! It’s impossible to personally meet thousands of people, or even phone them all.

The above image, in my opinion, is the main point of this whole blog text: Is marketing giving leads? Nowadays the marketing unit has begun to market digitally a lot, but marketing very often measures its success in clicks. LinkedIn, for example, measures in clicks. But is it enough? No, it isn’t. We need a name!

Sales call their customers in order to get a sales meeting. The salesperson gives a spectacular presentation with all the PowerPoint-slides needed, and in the end the customer says:

“Really interesting, but not now. We have so much going on at the moment”.
Sounding familiar? What happens next? A long wait. 3-6 months later the salesperson meets the customer again. What does the customer say?

“Really interesting, but we have other things going on at the moment”.

This pattern goes on, and on, and on. What do we do in between the meetings? Most people wait aggressively by the phone, expecting a phone call or an email from the customer.

What if WE sent messages to them? We have their business card; we have the right to send them messages and emails. Messages can be written by the salespeople or by a professional who was present at the meeting. Messages should contain personal professional knowledge, meaning we give the customer our best practices for free -experiences and cases, for example.

Text Messages can also be sent, marketing review reports, for example. The content has to contain substance, this means something that the customer wouldn’t come to think of on their own. A business has a lot of experience from its own field, and that’s the kind of information and know-how that the customer probably isn’t aware of, which makes it both insightful and valuable.

The customer needs to be nurtured with information and understanding, and we shouldn’t be guarding it jealously! This is called digital sales.

The second option is receiving an email address from the marketing department, without even meeting the person. We can, however, begin to nurture this customer personally through digital sales, just like I’m now telling you about all this. Yes, our idea behind these blogs is to give you sneak peeks and valuable insights. We not only want you to get something practical, that you can implement on your own, but to also get a clear idea if you would like to have us help you more in-depth. (Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.)

As I’m writing this blog, I’m at our vacation home in the Porvoo archipelago. We just arrived here with my wife. I have an office here as well, from which I work remotely quite often.

The thing about email addresses is so interesting. If I were a CEO of a big company or working in a company with tens of people, I would give the market one central measure:

“How many email addresses have you collected during this month?”

Clicks are only a waypoint. The culmination of the click is the email address. Did you get the address or not? Immediately when we have the address, we can launch a marketing automation sequence of multiple emails that contain substantial value for the lead. Not spam, valuable substance.

Digital sales is the same thing as the coming of the telephone. Before cell phones we, of course, knew how to sell. We went straight to the customer and knocked on their door and met them. Of course, letters were sent, and advertisements were posted in magazines. But then, cell phones came. Was the salesperson with a phone more efficient than the guy who ran around meeting everyone in person? OF COURSE, because they had the time to call many more people.

Now we can do digital sales! A massive amount of people can be reached with digital sales. Thousand times more than before with just a phone.

First of all, I can create a personal, professional relationship with the customer. When I write this text for you to read, I need to speak to you as an individual. I’m not speaking in a large auditorium; I’m speaking to you as an individual and sharing my best tricks with you. This is how a bond is created between us. On the video it’s even more lively.

You begin to know me, and that is, of course, valuable. That’s when a customer might think:

¨Hey, that guy seems to know a lot and he’s telling me lots of useful things for free. In fact, I might start following this guy, because he seems so nice.”

I have many whom I like and follow quite intensely. Of course, all the time I don’t have the energy to read the messages I’ve received, but very often I look at them.

In 2007 I met Chris Cardell in London, and I have followed him ever since. He sends five messages a week, which I always don’t have the energy to read. I know, however, that in the beginning he gave me so much for free, that I was amazed and didn’t understand how that could’ve been profitable for the business. This is the catch. A person can sense this person genuinely wants to help, and not only sell.

There is always someone who needs help and will buy. But it’s wonderful if one can help businesses to succeed, even if they carried out a plan their own way without asking me for help. That’s the great mission. Of course, money needs to flow in. Someone always needs help in practice, but if someone can improve their business using the info I share, or some other presentation, it’s just wonderful!

There is no need of being scared of the competition. They can copy, but they also have their own beliefs and framework and their own way of doing things. It isn’t so easy to copy, and if someone copies me, I’ll be just around the corner the very next week developing something new, so at least in my business, the competition doesn’t matter because I move faster than the competitors can copy and implement my stuff. By they time they successfully develop and deploy my things, I have already made that same thing obsolete through new innovations.

This way I can nurture thousands of people weekly. At the moment I have five thousand CEOs and management leaders on my mailing list, to whom I send a minute-long video every week. This type of short video is hard to do, because it can’t contain any extra word, because one minute is a very short time. I can easily speak 20 minutes or even 2-3 minutes, but compressing everything to a one minute speech is challenging. Every word needs to be examined, in order to make sure there is substance in the video.

I can share my message to thousands of people all at once. My customer’s salesman Jani had found 3500 contacts on LinkedIn, that could potentially be interested in the company’s services. He has met several customers face to face, altogether about 200. What does he do with the remaining 3300? Does he aggressively wait for someone to call? That’s when he realized he can approach them digitally and personally. There’s no way he would have the time to call all three thousand and meet them. Instead, he can nurture them. When the time is right and the customer realizes they need help, that’s when Jani might get a call or an email from a customer – without ever meeting them. Jani is already familiar to the customer.

I recently learned a new thing from my guru: Don’t create new content, document what you did”.

You don’t have to make up content! Just explain what you learned. That’s why I’m trying to become sensitive towards the moment I experience a Heureka-moment. Every week I get a feeling that “this was pretty interesting, I’ve learned something new”. I make a video about what I’ve learned, and send it off every Thursday.

I have been doing this for so long, that I suddenly have an archive of 300 videos! Producing a one-minute video no longer takes that long, because I’ve standardized the process for myself. Before, I was thinking a lot about how to get them done in my everyday life and what kind of technology and lighting I need. Here’s a tip for you: Talk with someone, who has figured things out and can help you get started. That way things go easy. Also, the best thing is that recording a video doesn’t have to cost you any money.

The goal of B2B sales is the meeting. Not the fact that the deal would be done on the internet. These deals are usually very big. Nobody orders anything online with big sums of money, they invite you to a meeting. Then the traditional and physical offer negotiations begin. The goal in B2C is to secure the purchase. Same principles as in B2B apply, but closing is different online.

Everyone wants traffic on their webpage. They want the email address. Traffic is wanted and it can either happen fast or slowly. Buying traffic is faster. In other words we advertise our pages to a large group on Facebook or LinkedIn. We get people to click and to download our “magnet”. The price is the email address. The feature of bought traffic is that it fades, people stop following after a while even though they had clicked on the link.

However, the traffic that comes from people who find our webpage on their own or through Google, is the traffic we own, because we have their email addresses. Even though Facebook, LinkedIn and everything would end, we have email. Facebook and LinkedIn can identify the people who have visited their pages. That’s when we can buy advertisements that are published directly to these people on those platforms, not outside of the platforms. However, we don’t get their email addresses if we just rely on advertising on the massive digital platform and ecosystems. We don’t own the traffic, which means we are in trouble if we are banned from using the advertising systems on these platforms.

The blue line in the image above is more valuable in the long run, but it is advisable to use both ways of traffic in the beginning.

Many think email is a disappearing medium and that nobody has time or bothers to read them. Yes, nobody reads a message that isn’t relevant to them! I say, however, that the receiver will most definitely read the message if it’s truly relevant to them.

A magnet has to exist, something that they want for themselves. It could be an e-book or a video series. A CTA (Call to Action) button is placed on the web page stating “Order this”, or “Download here”, for example. The email address is the what the user gives in exchange for the thing that they want.

It’s interesting when I asked a company management how many email addresses they have. They didn’t know! This in my opinion states that nobody has acknowledged that a new telephone has been invented. Otherwise they would’ve known the exact amount. This morning I had 7416 addresses, 5000 of which are in Finland and the remaining ones abroad. I can see these numbers directly in my information dashboard, and I keep track of them often — daily or weekly.

This is an important point: Email addresses form my list. I have many many addresses on my list and together they are a huge asset, capital to our business. The list is important because it consists of current customers as well as prospective customers. If we have a quality list, it raises the valuation of our company.

The list is absolutely essential: You should collect email addresses, and in a way that the person is willing to give it. Then you grow the list systematically. This is the reason I would set the amount of new email addresses as a central KPI (Key Performance Indicator).

Of course people will leave the list when they no longer want to follow – and that’s ok. The more people leave, the better. That’s when the quality of the list grows because you don’t want to spam people who are not interested in the information that you are sending out. I, as well, clean out my list. I intend to send everyone that hasn’t followed or looked at my mails, a message. I will inform them that I will stop sending mails to them, but they can continue the subscription by clicking the button in the email.

Once the message has been written, you don’t need to do it again. The computer takes care of the rest. Some people can think that automation makes the message impersonal. It isn’t impersonal, it’s me writing it! It’s just that the message comes with a delay. That’s how it was during the war when a letter came from the trenches. The letter had been written by a person, it just took time to arrive at its destination. The message has to be written in real time with a personal touch, but the delivery comes with a delay.

Digital sales allows us to take care of personal customer relationship development in a scalable fashion, in practice this means thousands of people. You are giving valuable information for free. The content has to be so solid, something you find difficult to decide if it is a smart choice to hand it out, because it something so valuable. You however are an expert, and you know how hard it is to actually implement your expertise. So even if the other party gets super high-value information, then they may not even have it in them to successfully implement that information. Those who truly value your expertise and value their own time, will realize that the most valuable choice for them is to contract you to help them out personally. Those who don’t value your input, come to the conclusion that they much rather do things by themselves. That is fine, because you will have more time to dedicate to the customers who actually value your input. Everybody wins.

 “Wow, I’m getting so much for free, I wonder what I would get if I paid?”

Learn to collect email addresses and how to systematically build the list.

The goal of B2B sales is to get the meeting.

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Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategy Implementation

3.02 — The Game Book of Actions

The Game Book of Actions

Many leaders have the problem that makes it difficult for them to renew their way of working, even though the goal is clear. How could one make everyone feel excited about creating new things while improving competitiveness?

Let’s begin with our strategy model, in which three loops rotate while linked to one another. The first loop is where the strategy is directed: Everyone is involved and ideas are chosen, challenged and crystallized. When the strategic goals have been defined, the second loop’s mission is to break them down into subgoals. Prioritizing, resourcing and steering take place. The final loop is the everyday work, which is the theme of today’s blog.

Igniting Strategy

How do we get people to serve their customers with excitement throughout the entire customer lifecycle? The customer lifecycle is a journey as well.

3. Act, daily operation

What are the crucial matters, the new ways of working, that must be implemented? These matters can be made into Game Book. This metaphor has excited many. How can technology be used to make the ‘We Act’-loop rotate faster?

brake pedal gas pedal

In actions, there are two pedals, the gas pedal and the brake pedal. If the brake pedal is pressed down, the car won’t budge. We must figure out a way to lift the pedal. I always pose a question:

What’s not working?

Of course, in every place there are a million things that don’t work. But what are the big things that aren’t working? If we merely try to step on the gas without letting go of the brake, it’s wasting energy.

The point is to understand what the WOW factor be for us, for me, my friends, and for our clients? This is the key to a fine process. Let’s engage everyone to think about the WOW factor. That’s when the brake pedal lifts, and the car is free to move. Not a very difficult idea, in theory.

What is the wow factor for us?

The movement must be going from left to right. At Stradigo, we have facilitated tens of processes just like this, and as a concept it seems to be amazing.

Game book

The answer is to create a Playbook together! Invite people to join the process, even on a voluntary basis. Don’t create a thick Playbook, instead include only the crucial new procedures.

game book reforms procedures

The idea is to crystallize the new procedures. It’s advisable to do that according to the role. In an organization, people have multiple roles. What if people in certain roles were invited to identify the procedure that would become the WOW factor? WOW stands for Way-Of-Working.

The point is that the identification is done together. It’s not done in a conference room. Preferably, it’s done with volunteers. When people are given the freedom to think about the WOW, it’s easily identified!

In many places, I have been told that rules are not wanted. I often use soccer as a metaphor, because certain rules are needed. One must be familiar with the area in which the game is played. The goalkeeper can use their hands when catching the ball. A player can’t kick others in their legs.

If we do things together, the Game Book inspires people to turn their operation towards a common direction by themselves. This direction is our purpose, how we help our customers.

What motivates a role?

Let’s look at the roles. The customer is, of course, an obvious role. As is a salesperson, an expert, and a manager. A bunch of roles are picked, and then people are asked to volunteer in the process of choosing WOW factors for the roles. This makes everybody see the WOW factors in the roles.

The wow catch

The work begins by looking at what’s slowing us down. The catch is to go around the obstacle. We task a group to find a way around the obstacle. The amount of creative ideas it’s possible to get is amazing!

The management’s job is to create focus, and they want to influence the process at this stage as well. The image above has typical approaches. The core can be the agile customer work. How could interacting and collaborating work better, and what about decision making? We ask people to innovate WOW factors within these themes.

The themes in the above image are typical, however, the management group can identify specific themes that they want to work for them.

Case: Roles have common joker cards

I invented the above card metaphor during a process inside of a big organization. The WOW factors were contemplated with chosen pioneering individuals. The management had given themes in which new things were innovated. These procedures were developed in a series of workshops. That’s when the idea of making the WOW factor into a playing card was born. It creates a card game!

Four cards were created in one workshop, when people were divided into four groups. Together, all the cards created a deck of cards. The name of the WOW factor was written on a card. We also gave the card a short description. The card contained ideas the individual carrying the card could implement without needing to ask a superior for permission. We also created special Joker cards, that could suit all the roles inside of the organization. Here is an example of such a Joker card:

“I cut meetings in half, both in time and number, without sacrificing our goals. I save people’s time by freeing them from long meetings. I only invite people relevant to the meetings. Using Teams, I collect everyone’s comments beforehand or after the meeting. We converse in Teams, not with email.”  

Many cards were created, 52 to be exact! That’s the same amount of cards as in a regular deck of cards. The management was very excited about this. Take a moment to guess if the organization’s creative team was excited about the card deck? Yes. They ended up going out into the hallways, and the company neighborhood and they told everyone in the organization what had taken place.

The whole process went organically. In this situation the management didn’t start pushing it. Pioneer individuals were chosen, and they got to spread the excitement to others. It’s a very efficient and natural way! In other instances, we have done things more traditionally if the customers have wanted to set goals and to follow up. It depends on how this all feels as a process. 

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Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategic Leadership

2.02 — Strategy implementation in sprints

Strategy implementation in sprints

A strategy is useless if implementation never occurs. In this blog, I discuss how the company can kickstart the implementation process and its practice.

A never-ending battle between important matters and urgent matters exists. Guess which one wins? Urgent things always win. How can this be managed? Crystallized focus areas and breakthrough goals are super important. Implementation is required, not necessarily by tomorrow, but soon.

People are always in a hurry. Leaders are bad leaders if they don’t fill their coworkers’ days with desirable activity, like productive work that forwards their goals. The more people that the leader needs to streamline, the bigger the hurry is inside the organization. It’s crucial to understand which task is the essential one and how important it is to implement.

Let’s put everything in the same work pile! If we keep the strategy separate and hidden, it’s not going to work. We need to have urgent and important things in front of our eyes all the time.

Let’s make only a single work pile! Let’s collect the goals together and list the necessary tasks under them, just like how old binders have interleaves. That’s how they are constantly in front of everyone’s eyes while browsing through the workload.

What if we moved the work pile onto a digital board? Let’s put the big goals in columns and the necessary tasks in cards underneath them. The tasks get distributed between people, and decisions get made about who does what. The traffic lights enable us to see, for instance, if the task is progressing, if it is behind in schedule, or if it is experiencing problems. 

When the goals and tasks get listed on the digital board, have a guess, will the board become alive? When the board gets looked at every week, it becomes very much alive. In a physical meeting, the digital board gets projected onto a wall so that everybody can see it. If the meeting takes place as an online session, one person shares their screen, but everyone can also look at the screen through their browser window, which means everybody can write simultaneously on it.

An online meeting works better than a physical meeting, which is pretty exciting. Many think it’s nice to meet in person. Still, if we take a realistic and blunt perspective and look at this from a productivity and efficiency angle, well-facilitated online meetings are better. More gets accomplished when people work online with proper methods.

Ever since 2016, I have facilitated almost all of my workshops online. In the beginning, it’s good to meet in person at least once, to get to know each other. Everyone, however, has their laptops and the joint writing board open during the meeting. People see the board and post input as digital cards. The following sessions take place online because they are so much more efficient. Besides, video conferences are, in fact, face-to-face meetings, if you start to think about it!

Whether working online or on location, what boosts the group’s productivity is a shared board to write on. If the only way of communicating is through speech, comments easily get forgotten, as high detailed documentation rarely takes place.

In online meetings, I sometimes ask for pulse comments about how the session is going. Documentation exists the whole time, but we also read the written input out loud. With a joint writing board, separate transcriptions are not a necessity. Workshop preparation also takes much less time.

A corporation can follow up its goals from the strategy board. Different business units can have their boards as well. In the above figure, a card gets broken into subgoals. The tasks, of course, also have a person in charge. In the figure, there are four departments, and they all have their boards. Also, there are three functions: Finance, HR, and communication.

The point is that the boards are visible to everyone. If someone wants to know what other people are up to, they can have a look. One great thing comes from the fact that free software exists that already comes with basic needed functionality. One practical example of such software is Trello, which I use extensively.

Leading in sprints is a 30-year-old idea. The IT industry has demonstrated that it’s not worth planning a project in detail because the world and the customer need changes over time. Big projects get delayed constantly, and the outcomes aren’t, in the end, even good. What if we merely decided on the big goal and worked in shorter sprints? The customer can track our progress thanks to this sprint structure.

The customer can get unsatisfied if they experience a long project without getting any intermediate results.

When we made long waterfall projects and didn’t show the customer’s intermediate results, they ended up unsatisfied with the final delivery. The customer’s needs had changed along the way. That’s when spring leadership came into the picture: Working in small sprints and keeping the customer up-to-date as the sprints progress.

I think every business would benefit significantly from using sprint management. In sprint management, the company works from a backlog. The backlog should be looked at only when deciding on actions for the next sprint. Thinking doesn’t go beyond the sprint at hand. Staff limit thinking to the most critical things, which prevents information overload. Sprint duration is scheduled, which means the sprint is never late. In the old days, when the team didn’t reach a goal on time, the goal stayed the same, but the issue stretched the schedule.

The philosophy is different with sprints when the sprint is never late. The schedule never changes. Instead, the group must only finish the core of the project. Projects become lighter because not everything needs to get done in a perfectionistic fashion. Otherwise, everyone tries constantly to produce extra, too refined, value. Minor improvements might not necessarily be so necessary. But, when tasks need to get finished, the focus is automatically on the core. Then the job for the next sprint is decided.

Here you can see a one-week sprint from Monday to the following Monday. I would say a two-week sprint is the maximum time allocated to a single sprint. A Monday meeting gets held, which begins by looking at how the previous week’s sprint went. Are the tasks ready?

People get to decide for themselves what they want to work on during the next sprint. Unfinished tasks move into the backlog, from where they may be chosen for the next sprint once again, if still relevant. Sprints are necessarily not tied together regarding tasks.

Herein lies a psychological factor. When people know that they get asked if they managed to finish their work at the end of every week, they tend to get the job done. If they don’t, they still manage to do a final crunch and think about something they get to finish on time. They know how to focus on the core issues. Set goals ought not to bend to short-term whims, but the goals’ content can and should adapt to needs. It was the other way around back in the day.

Put strategic tasks in the same work pile together with the operative tasks. In sprints, you can implement the strategy much more efficiently, and the schedules hold. That’s it. 

Use this approach to ignite your strategy!

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Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategic Planning

1.031 — Case: Strategy together

Case: Strategy together

Today I will talk about a case which had a few fantastic features. I simply must share it with you. The most amazing thing was that a big corporation had the guts to jump into a completely new way of making strategies by involving the whole staff. It most certainly wasn’t in their culture, but they sensed that now was the right time for it. The strategy was done together, and it went very well.

The strategy was made authentically together! Even blue-collar workers joined. Over 100 people always attended the meetings, although I must admit that many more were expected to participate. I’ll tell you more about the kickoff and about the feedback we received.

We held three workshops with two divisions. We worked with both in tandem, alternating between both divisions over the workshops. The workshops involved about 30 people, and everything was done digitally online. The trick is to have a common digital board, on which everyone can write simultaneously. Every meeting had its own digital board, and that is something that changes the whole process. Steering meetings were held in between the workshops, in which we presented the unfinished strategy to the staff for feedback.

Think how “horrible”! We showed everyone something that is not ready!

In the end the tough choices were brought together, and the staff had a moment to browse through the Strategy 1Pager and leave their fingerprint on it. I call these comments steering signals, and boy were there many!

dreaming

 After the first kickoff the next step was the dreaming workshop. We jumped into a time machine and travelled five years into the future and landed at home. The participants were asked to visualize everything that they would see, hear, smell, feel and taste five years in the future. The visualizations were written into 12 stories, and they were all so exciting! Every time, people were as astonished as I am about how much information our subconscious contains.

word cloud

I asked people to give a one-word comment about the kickoff. Those comments were then used to form a word cloud. It’s easy to see what people have thought about it. The bigger the word, the more times it has been commented. Most of the comments are super positive, but you will always find some constructive criticism. The word interesting is, well, interesting because it’s the subtlest way to object. It means you are looking at the situation from a distance and that you haven’t hopped onboard quite yet. Those that give exciting feedback are the ones that have already stepped on the boat and are ready to row.

challenging current thinking

How do we challenge our way of thinking? As we travel into the future

during the dreaming phase, an interesting phenomenon happens. It is a bit like playing and people come up with ideas easily, without being weighed about the implementation difficulties.

Every theme is a workshop by itself. During this case we went through all four workshops. In brutal reality we wondered why we are constantly in a rat race and a step behind, even though we have a ton of great ideas and a lot of work is being done.

Development debt will always exist, and one must learn to live with it. It can be hard to dream at times. But, when the workshops are done online, one is already finished after an hour. In our case every workshop was three hours long, and the staff worked for four hours altogether. The whole thing was done in two and a half days time.

Would you invest two days to think about your strategy?

Our work group had a few people that found it weird to think about high-quality thoughts. That’s exactly what they are, high-quality. I firmly believe that one must have one’s head in the clouds, while also having very long legs that reach all the way to the ground. If you only think about practical down-to-earth things, you don’t see the big picture, now do you? The satellite picture is an important aspect.

The interesting thing was that fear also reached the management level. People at that level were scared the people below wouldn’t have the capability to think about the future. That tells a lot about the management, if they feel they are the only ones capable of thinking about the future. I say if you guide people into the future and ask them to fly, they will think and use their brains to understand the work required.

In the final phase, some had the opinion that certain matters were left undiscussed. They were right in a sense. Before this process began the management group and members of the board sat in two workshops and defined the focus areas, that were important for them. A vast staff survey was used as a base for that discussion.

This survey helped to produce and crystallize the three focus areas, which were then discussed inside the divisions and then written (transformed) into a more practical form. We started to think and to prioritize our thoughts during every meeting. This is how we found the grains of gold, that ultimately became the tough choices.

summarizing everything on a single page

This is a process and a funnel. We asked questions, wrote and commented on our digital board. One division gave us 4090 comments, out of which 177 comments made the cut. Those were then grouped into breakthrough goals.

Breakthrough goals are bigger than normal goals, because you go through (break through) the wall with them. They are all included in the Strategy 1Pager. Once you have thought about these a lot, everything has been evaluated from every relevant angle. The Strategy 1Pager is presented to the management and the board so they can give their comments on the output.

I was just at a board meeting telling them about this work process. I said:

“Before you look at the result and give comments, you should know these people have put their hearts into this work.”

A couple of wrong words can kill the atmosphere. The board listened. I also said if they have any ideas let’s bring them to the table as well. They gave us three focus areas as a send-off and that’s what we did.

When the company leadership reported their own strategy one of them said:

“This is a cultural change in our company. We have never done it like this.”

This leads to the result, that people get on-board. Everything changed only because they were given the possibility to think. And why did they have the possibility to think? Because technology exists. With little effort we got everyone to participate. We didn’t need to travel across the country.

During the first workshop someone said that if they had traveled to another city and tried to do all of this on their own with sticky-notes, it would have been a disaster. It would have taken a week to get the same amount of work done as we did with online workshops. The result, however, would not have been the same because challenging happens through questions.

The talent lies in asking the right questions. It is the job of a professional to pull out the information out of people’s heads. Technology enables this.

 

result word cloud

This was the result. I asked the group for comments about the whole process, what was it like? Again, the answers were collected into a word cloud. As you can see, there is the word tiresome. That’s exactly what it is if one is not used to doing processes at a fast pace. The pace is fast, because the process is so expensive to do. Expenses double if the pace is slower (more time = more expenses).

The word confusing has sometimes come up. People form their perception of the world based on a certain image. Then when something comes up, that doesn’t fit their current perception of the world, things become confusing This confusion is a good thing, because that way new pathways in the brain form. It is, in fact, a very creative state, that allows people to update their perceptions.

Returning to our subject, there was a staff member who said that nothing changes if no-one gets angry. That’s true, in the sense that this process had even more potential, because the feedback was so positive (we could have pushed further)!

This morning I held a dreaming workshop in a new organization, where the factory floor staff took part in the workshop through their phones. These people were also amazed at how their imagination was allowed to run freely. Together we thought it was miraculous. I told them:

“Look at everything your subconsciousness can store!”

When you get the whole group to implement them, it’s fantastic!

I wanted to share this case because this is such an important topic. It’s not enough to just have a good strategy that’s made and agreed inside a conference room high up in the ivory tower. The strategy has no value before it is implemented. The implementation requires that everyone is involved in the process and the strategy is ignited!

Next time I’ll talk more about how a crystallized strategy gets implemented.

Finding Us On Social Media

Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategic Planning

1.06 — How to crystallize a strategy?

How to crystallize a strategy?

A strategy journey has three phases, which I call loops. The first loop consists of renewing and directing the strategy. The second loop leads the implementation of the strategy, and it is linked to the first loop. If the implementation doesn’t happen, the whole strategy is pointless. The third loop is daily operative work.

3 Loops

The first loop rotates quarterly. A bigger strategy round is done every now and then, however, the goals need to be updated more frequently. Have our goals been set? Do they need to be changed? How are we doing?

The second loop is about steering the strategy implementation, and it rotates weekly. What are the sub-goals and their functions? We prioritize and assign resources.

The third loop is all about implementation, and it rotates daily.

The three loops are linked together, and they rotate at different speeds. This is the whole strategy journey. It is very easy to think that the strategy process means strategic planning, the moment when the strategy is decided, and it is written down. However, in the above model this is only represented by the first loop. There are two other loops! This means that it’s better to understand the strategy journey as three full loops, not one.

Let’s focus on creating the strategy, which is the first loop. Often the end result of the strategy process is a thick pile of PowerPoint slides, and usually the contents on the slides are of very fine quality. But how well do people remember what is written on the slides? Can the strategy be crystallized and compressed into a tighter package?

Our company was born out of this idea. We at Stradigo concluded that strategies are incredibly finely made documents, so finely made that nobody can, in fact, implement them successfully. :O

We felt that we need to help humankind by simplifying this.

When working with new customers I often get to have a look at their previous strategies. One time I was handed a 157-page presentation that was done the year before. It was so incredibly fine that as I browsed through it I thought to myself:

“OH MY GOD. What do these people even need me for?”

After I was over my shock, I realized that something has to be wrong if the presentation loses the train of thought constantly. According to the organization they had used old slide layouts, imported from previous companies. The quantity of the pages was blinding at first, but they ended up having clear problems in their strategy. This organization had predicted massive growth, however, nothing happened in the next four years, except that their profitability plummeted.

The strategy was wrong or too fine to be implemented. The layout was splendid, but when people tried to get the hang of it, it only made them sweat. The organization was left wondering if they would ever manage to implement it.

When a fine strategy is made in a conference room, the next step is to sell the idea to the staff. It begins with a large meeting where the CEO presents the strategy over an hour or two. People are extremely interested in listening, because they want to know how to continue into the future.

After the presentation comes the Q&A session, where someone raises their hand and, interestingly enough, always asks the same question:

“What does this mean in practice?”

The CEO has to give an example, but the thing is that these people should themselves figure out what it is in practice. I’ve talked about this before.

The reality, however, is often this. The board and management group have sat down for many workshops. They have crystallized a hard thing and found the catch, and they are very excited. Then this is explained to the others, but none of them really knows what to do in practice.

This is a HUGE problem. If the strategy isn’t implemented, what’s the use of it? All the work, money and energy has gone to waste. It’s devastating!

Alternatively, one can ignite the strategy. Business owners get to decide the cornerstones and the direction they want to go in. They want to risk their money in some business and then say: “Please don’t go overboard.” Then they hire professionals that are interested in the company’s sun, the purpose for their customers.

The job is to find the best way to the sun. How do we help our customers? They have to be sailing every day, so to speak. They need to know the strategy so that they can sail towards the sun. We need a crystallized strategy, with simple enough frames. That is why we need the following.

We need to simplify and demystify the strategy. I’ve been terrified while reading what some American professors write about strategy. The text is so difficult to understand, my goodness!

The other keyword is “together”. Simplify Together.

It’s all possible now thanks to technology, so it’s not time consuming.

I just finished a strategy process for a billion-dollar company. We held three meetings with the entire staff. Have a guess how long the whole process took. The whole staff worked four hours and the workshop participants 15 hours altogether. That’s two and a half days to create a strategy.

Would you sacrifice four hours of work to be able to create a massive amount of energy that spurs people forward? Somehow it seems stupid not to do things this way.

Let’s do things authentically together from the start! The first one-hour kickoff is held online with the whole group. After that there are workshops, which anyone can volunteer to attend. The volunteers sign up on a Trello board, and a group is formed! It’s also so wonderful to see young people take part in a strategy for the first time.

The staff meetings and workshops alternate in turns. Every meeting has its own digital board that enables everyone to write on cards. They’re like sticky notes, but digital and better. We use Trello for this.

People have their video cameras on during meetings, so they can all talk and write simultaneously on the board. With one click everyone can be sorted into break-out rooms, where they can converse in small groups. Finally, they write their conclusions on the digital cards.

We often have three workshops and two staff meetings. No more two-day or even one-day sessions. No more travelling and polluting, no traffic jams, no wasting time! Let’s work from our current location.

Don’t sit in the conference room together! If some are sitting in a conference room and the rest are taking part online, the people in the room will converse with each other and the other half online won’t be able to catch what they’re saying.

No no no. INVOLVE EVERYONE! One can participate through phone nowadays. Earphones in and let’s go!

As you can see from the image above, the number of comments, represented by thin lines, is great. All of them are crystallized and compressed. They are prioritized, meeting by meeting, and only the top candidates make the cut. By working digitally, comments are always written down, which means everything gets documented at the same time.

No more colorful walls stacked full of sticky notes, which are transcribed into a file after a few days. Digital cards, on the other hand, can be zoomed in and the best ones can be voted with likes. The staff is then shown all that has happened in between the workshops.

The billion-dollar company strategy meeting collected 4080 written comments! The deciding factor is how they are crystallized. These 4080 comments were crystallized into 177 topics that were prioritized and they made the cut. Out of 177 cards the main themes and their focus areas were found. The whole process is absolutely solid! It, of course, requires some know-how have the energy to prioritize these comments, because nothing can be forgotten!

The company board gave a comment:

“But those people don’t know how to think about the future, they can only think operatively.”

It depends of course what kind of task one gives them! We dream in workshops and travel to the future with a time machine and choose trends.

We also think about paranoia and about what our competitors are doing. What enemy lives in us? How can we screw up this whole process? How do we turn the screw-up into a victory? What NOT to do?

These are the things that produced the 4080 comments, which were prioritized into 177 topics. Those were then compressed onto a Strategy 1Pager. It had a lot of things for the future. It’s somehow funny that in bigger companies the board and management group think they have some kind of a monopoly to understand the future.

I’ve mentioned the Swedish futurologist Kjell A. Nordström before. He once began a presentation with these words: “The future cannot be studied because it doesn’t exist.”

This reminds me of the words ‘intuition’ and ‘gut feeling’, and how it has become an annoying label today. You know what? The finest computer in the entire world is between one’s ears. If an expert gives their vision as to where the world is going, it is better to hear it from an expert than an amateur. It’s the expert’s point of view, but then here comes the criticism like this expert view is such a bad thing.

It’s based on a mathematical scientific paradigm, where the truth is only measured outside one’s head. But that’s measuring the past. Then one is not measuring the future, but only what is now.

All statistics can be utilized to see if the curve is going straight, up or down. The trends are visible, but no-one knows the future. A good vision, assumption or belief is worth gold.

All numbers are only guesses, because the future doesn’t exist. That’s why we need a vision where the business will succeed. Then we have key beliefs about what’s going to happen. The strategy is built on top of those key beliefs.

If the beliefs are high-quality, the strategy will be high-quality. If the beliefs are not high-quality, meaning false, the strategy will be bad.

Beliefs and key assumptions aren’t usually even written down. They exist in the speeches of board meetings. The CEO holds a briefing about this meeting and the management group begins to work on the next strategy.

Finally, when the strategy process is completed, it is all crystallized onto a page. It’s boiled down like a sauce. That’s when the big tough choices emerge. They have to be so tough that someone becomes anxious. If no-one becomes anxious, nothing changes! Because we want to steer the operation towards a better future, of course some things need to be terminated if they are outdated.

Think, a big company strategy can be done in just over two days! It’s absolutely amazing!

The whole point of this text is to crystallize the strategy onto a Strategy 1Pager. Once you have that, you know what to do. A strategy is of course based on beliefs: Bad belief → Bad strategy. Good belief → Good strategy.

The talent is to take all visions inside the organization and compress them onto one page. The page needs to have those big tough choices written down, and there must not be too many!

The catch is to have the talent to do a Strategy 1Pager. The strategy becomes simple and bloody exciting. That’s how you ignite a strategy!

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Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategic Planning

1.02 — What kind of strategy process?

What kind of strategy process?

We can use a variety of strategy processes. Today I’ll explain a process that is strongly involving. It all starts with a preparation phase, which is often over in 30 seconds. The leader decides who all are involved and how many meetings are held. After that the preparation phase is over.

Things can be done much better during this phase, which is why I’m introducing you to my very own pride, the hamburger model.

How does one go top-down and bottom-up at the same time?

Go top-down and bottom-up side by side. This forms a hamburger, where the outcome becomes the patty in the middle.

The management can start from the top, while creating the catch. I often use a sector model for this. The management defines the sector in which we want to operate. The cornerstones can be at the end of the lines. In this sector we decide what we want to do to get more growth, profitability, excitement and energy eruptions.

At the same time the ball is thrown to the organization by asking it for insights. Involving others can easily trigger anxiety in a traditional management and board. They think that others aren’t capable of understanding anything else but operative everyday situations and that it’s the leader that must think about the future.

This, however, isn’t true because there are many that understand the future very well.

Once the group has gone through the strategy, the ball comes back up. Then the big choices, and focus areas, and their breakthrough goals, are decided.

The hamburger model is approached from two directions. One doesn’t need to do just the other, because the result is much better when using both.

In my opinion, the picture on the left is horrible in a sense. This is the traditional top-bottom model, which basically means that wisdom sits at the top of the ivory tower. The top-floor people sit down for many workshops. The board gives the opening speech, and the management group is put to work. In the end, when the white smoke has appeared out of the chimney a briefing is held.

The “town hall meeting” is an hour or two long, where people are invited as auditors. The CEO gives a presentation, and the management is very excited to have finally finished the strategy. The CEO shows everyone their exciting ideas and the people are puzzled at what this all means to them.

Next comes the Q&A moment, where someone always raises their hand and asks:

“What does this mean in practice?”

Of course, the CEO tries to give an example, but silently in their mind they are thinking:

“Do I need to do your job for you? I’m paying you a lot of money so that you can figure out what this means in practice. I can’t do everyone’s job for them”.

… But of course, they can’t say that. Instead, they figure out an example.

I once bumped into a board member that ran a strategy process in a big organization. He used the word ‘keskusteluttaminen’ in Finnish, which freely translates to “forcing people to converse”. This word is the worst thing I’ve heard after headquarters, subordinate, the head, and other ancient terms.

Think, if someone today would re-launch the word ‘foreman’. Whoever thought of the word would be lynched for its misogynistic and discriminating nature. The word for “forcing people to converse” is worse, because it’s the same as saying “Converse you idiots now, so that you understand the point of this”.

During this specific case when extremely qualified people conversed and they took their feedback upstairs, the message fell on deaf ears and wasn’t paid attention to. They gave heavy feedback. They said they wouldn’t see a difference, if they kept doing things the same way. They seem just the same as any business. The people upstairs didn’t pay any heed to this.

Listen, people. The traditional way is not only terrible, it’s also a bad system that won’t lead to good implementation. The implementation becomes bad and people won’t join in the journey. The management has to sell an idea and to use a lot of time, money, and effort to get the organization onboard.

NO, NO, NO! This is why one should move to authentic participation.

How do we get the feeling we’re authentically taking part in the strategic process? That’s when we realise there’s no need for a separate implementation process!

Immediately when you understand something, you start implementing it right away. I think it’s impossible for a person not to start implementing the greatest idea in their mind. It begins immediately.

In a world where we go from top to bottom and bottom-up, there is no separate implementation process. It has happened already. You start to do things with excitement! We have to get into a world like this. The reason is strictly economic, because the authentic participation model creates much more results and value for the business owner than the top-down model. It’s in a different league. Everyone wins: the customers, staff, business owners, the government…

I like to say that nothing is as strong of a force as a hundred people going in the same direction. It produces a magnificent power instead of all of them going in different directions and doing their own things.

One must build the hamburger model top-down and bottom-up and get the operation in the middle as a patty.

Let’s see how it’s done. I have visualized a hamburger model, where progress takes place over iterative rounds.

Round 1. Leaders define the frames, the sector. The board looks at strategic key questions, to which they want an answer from the organization. Then the ball is thrown into the second round. The staff is asked for their opinion and they are presented with central questions, as well as the frames in which the business wishes to operate.

Round 2. A business owner has a right to decide where they invest their money. This is how the frames are formed. Then, people begin to think, and this produces a great amount of comments. One challenge at this stage is how these comments are collected and refined. The hamburger patty needs to be found.

Thankfully, technology has brought many efficient methods to help. With digital technology it’s possible to collect everyone’s opinions efficiently and to refine them further. In a big organization it takes a week or two, and after that we move to round 3, which is the “patty level”.

Round 3. Let’s combine our thoughts. What is our focus? Many goals are defined and are combined into focus areas. It can be that the big focus areas have already been defined at the beginning of the collective strategy journey. Alternatively, it can be that those decisions haven’t been made yet. Throw the ball to the staff and ask what they think should be focused on. It’s amazing how high-quality the answers are.

Round 4. Now the ball returns upstairs. There the suggested ‘patty’ is examined if it’s good or not. My opinion is that if many big breakthrough ideas have been crystallized at the beginning of the strategic journey, they tend to change towards the end. People have gotten wiser as their ideas have iterated during the journey.

Strategies cast in stone are dead, in my opinion. No more three to five-year strategies, one must proceed with an agile way of thinking.

Strategic season. Actually, the term strategic season is an old-world thing because no-one can plan or predict the future. There is only intuition and guesses. With the help of the past one can measure statistics and ask oneself if the numbers are going up or down.

However, surprises arise. That’s why it’s better to update the strategy more or less constantly, maybe every 3-6 months. It doesn’t mean that the big things change all the time, but some projects are completed as others need to be updated. That’s why the strategy should be looked at quarterly.

Iteration! The whole point is this being an iterative process. The strategy ripens version by version, and just as in a micro-enterprise or a billion-dollar company the strategy is crystallized and compressed onto a Strategy 1Pager.

Even for a micro-enterprise consisting of a few people, it’s useful to think about the choices that take them further. It happens intuitively between the ears, when in bigger companies it happens through these iterative rounds.

The common factor is in producing a one-page map. Once you accomplish that you have also made your choices. I call this the Strategy 1Pager. If you refine it, miracles will happen. Especially when the whole staff has been involved in building it from the start. It’s in a completely different league compared to doing things the old way. The old way is slower: You make less money, people are less happy, energy erupts less, you don’t become successful.

This is how a strategy is ignited! I highly recommend you take the hamburger model into practice. Do top-down and bottom-up at the same time. That’s how you find a juicy patty to go between the buns.

Until next time!

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Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategic Planning

1.05 — Big choices

Big choices

The topic of the day is big choices. I don’t like using the word strategic choice, because it sounds so odd and horrible. I like to use our strategy journey model as the base for every strategy.

How does one ignite a strategy? – By making three loops rotate simultaneously.

Let’s look at ‘We choose’ and ‘We crystallize’ phases of the first loop, in which we make the big decisions. How are these big decisions made?

The whole concept of involving everyone and challenging the old models is covered in other blogs.

Analyzing the dangers and opportunities of trends helps to understand how one should react to them. Brutal reality means thinking about what the brutal reality is that we live in.

One must dare to dream. A great amount of thoughts form in the ‘Dreaming’ phase, but one also must dare to be paranoid. How could one ruin everything and save oneself from it? There comes a time when one must make tough decisions.

When we hold meetings with the whole staff, we get loads of comments. These comments are all documented using a digital board, for example Trello. This is how we get everyone, including introverts, to write.

During a process we got nearly four thousand comments. These comments are reduced to a bunch, and the tough decisions are the ones that remain. That is the point of the whole thing. In the end we compress them all onto a Strategy 1Pager.

In the picture above you see a funnel, and that’s something that has to be in order. When you have a working funnel,

A.) You think of better ideas, because everyone is involved in decision making,
B.) There is no separate implementation process, because it happens automatically.

One time we were sitting with the board of a certain company, and someone made a comment:

“Those people don’t know how to think about the future, they’re so stuck in the present!”

That’s where they are wrong: There are many who think, and many who know how. Because their thoughts are anchored in the present, their thought processes are usually of good quality.

The hard part is finding the big decisions from the pile of comments. That is, in fact, the board’s job to say what the expectations are for this process.

What are the big questions that need to be answered? A group begins to figure these questions out and they produce answers. Once the process progresses, we come closer to the moment where the big and tough decisions make it through the filter.

I had a workshop with an organization, and the moment was very enjoyable, when a light was ignited in the people and the big choices were found. We also found an alternative way of thinking. Usually when people in that organization think of the big things, they do it from a production perspective. We turned it into a customer-focused perspective. The group chair thought that this is a huge thing, and my response was “I know, right?”

Touch decisions can also be looked at one by one. Tough decisions are found by asking questions, and often it’s about the quality of these questions. One could ask what your company’s big business decision is. Now we are at the upper-level and in the core of the business.

Whether we’re talking about a billion-dollar company or a micro-enterprise, they all have different businesses that are going through different phases in their lifecycle. The question is, are all these businesses where they belong — in their right home? Can we imagine having to get rid of a business so that the development budget would not be used in vain? We need invest the money in the optimum spot, where we get the most feedback.

Business decisions. These big business decisions are truly massive. It is good to visualize the businesses by sorting them into a table that consists of four squares. That way it’s easier to see the big picture and decide whether it’s smart to invest in improving every business or should we make decisions about that business. That’s a conversation that easily skyrockets people to a satellite perspective.

In an earlier blog I told the story about the five-day war in Kuwait and general Schwarzkopf.  The general said, from the grassroots level you can easily make good decisions when the enemy attacks. However, if you’re looking at the situation from a satellite perspective, then you REALLY know what to do. – You need this perspective to see where your business lies.

Marketing choices. Another way of making tough decisions is through marketing decisions. This can also be thought of as geography: Where do we operate? If people who only work in Finland are asked, it can be that they haven’t even thought about working in another country. But, if a big growing company in Finland is finding it hard to find new potential, it can be natural to think about expanding their business abroad. Is it time to make marketing decisions? Is it time to evolve and expand? These questions will bring out big decisions.

People get anxiety over worrying about having to make big analyses. In practice, the analysis doesn’t have to be a massive thing. It can be much simpler. You can start by making an initial assumption and ask yourself if you have already made a sufficient amount of background analysis? If you are not satisfied with what you have, you may need to do some more analysis? If even that is not enough you may need to start a full-fledged research project in order to achieve a satisfying conclusion to your analysis needs. The last option of course means you will have to reserve much more time and money and it may not fit your current schedule. In either case, at this stage of the process you need to conclude if you have enough data from  your analysis to make a high-quality conclusion?

The world-famous Swedish futurologist Kjell A. Nordström held an excellent presentation in Finland some years ago. He began his presentation with these words:

“The future cannot be studied, because it doesn’t exist.”

Whatever numbers we predict in the future are just guesses. Statistics and numbers can be looked back on and an estimate made based on their ascending or descending nature. All conclusions, however, are only guesses and beliefs. The person that knows the future does not exist.

I always say that the crystal balls that predict the future have been sold out and are no longer manufactured. But, it’s funny when you put a number in an Excel chart, it immediately becomes a fact in many people’s minds. That’s a clever way of pranking people, I tell you!

Hypotheses can indeed be made, and extra research done if needed.

Customer choosing. The third way of making tough decisions is through customer choosing: We choose those who need to be our customers. We look at how we segment our customers into groups. How can we focus better on those customers that are very important to us and who need us?

Product selection. The fourth way is through product selection: We think about what it is we offer for different segments. With this way of thinking it’s possible to make very big decisions. Which products do we invest ourselves in? Which are most interesting to us? Which product development do we focus on?

Big opportunities and dangers. The fifth way is through big opportunities and dangers. In addition to the previous ones, I ask questions so that everyone’s thoughts focus on growth and avoiding overly great risks. It can be about digitizing, artificial intelligence, ecology etc. Very big decisions can come out from these issues.

Hope. The last group in this list is quite exciting. What are the decisions that would awaken great hope in an organization? These decisions can give birth to an immense energy eruption and a sense of importance. Many technically thinking people can think that this is just utter nonsense. But nothing is as big of a decision as one that makes a hundred people run in the same direction, with excitement! One can make decisions while sitting in an ivory tower, but if you can’t make people implement them with excitement, nothing happens.

In conclusion I can say that making right decisions is very, very important! That’s what making tough decisions is all about.

Finding Us On Social Media

Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.