Category Archive Innovation

Strategy the leader's role book by Richard Gourlay

Do you have a vision or are you just a dreamer?

No matter how big or small your business is without a clear vision of where you are going owners and directors often fall into the classic trap of just managing from day-to-day. A business needs great leadership, and for that they need to create a clear business vision, which will make and deliver longterm leadership success.

Envisioning the Future

Leadership is about investing time, envisioning the future and effort to see into the future and imagine how things could be, is as important for success as having real passion for the business and the determination to create something new. These three personal qualities of leaders are vital for successful companies and a vision statement, sometimes called “a picture of your company in the future”, but it’s so much more than that.

Vision Statement

Your vision statement is your inspiration, the framework for all your strategic planning. A vision statement may apply to an entire company or to a single division within that company.

The vision statement answers the question, “Where do we want to go?” What you are doing when creating a vision statement is articulating your dreams and hopes for your business. It reminds you of what you are trying to build. A vision statement is for you and the other members of your company, not just for your customers or clients.

Visionary goals should be longer term and more challenging than strategic goals. Collins and Porras describe these lofty objectives as “Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals.” These goals should be challenging enough so that people nearly gasp when they learn of them and realize the effort that will be required to reach them.

Most visionary goals fall into one of the following five categories:

  1. Targeted – quantitative or qualitative goals such as Nike: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world” “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”
  2. Common enemy – focused on overtaking a specific firm, becoming the number one in that sector, such as Amazon: “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
  3. Role model – to become like another in a different industry or market, the mirror role, Victoria Beckham (Posh Spice) “Right from the beginning, I said I wanted to be more famous than Persil Automatic”.
  4. Internal transformation – creating internal vision, GE set the goal of “Becoming number one or number two in every market it serves”

While visionary goals may require significant stretching to achieve, many visionary companies have succeeded in reaching them. Once such a goal is achieved, it needs to be replaced; otherwise, it is unlikely that the organization will continue to be successful. The second most dangerous place for a company is to have achieved its only goal, the most dangerous place is never to have had one.

Creating Your Business Vision

Simple steps to creating your vision, ask some simple questions:

  • What will our business look like in 3 to 5 years from now?
  • What new things do we intend to pursue and how?
  • What future customer needs do we want to satisfy?

Write the answers down and focus on developing them into a coherent, motivational and purposeful message which can connect with everyone.

Then Question:

  • Does our vision statement provide a powerful picture of what our business will look like in 3 to 5 years from now?
  • Is your vision statement a picture of your company’s future, which everyone can interpret into their role?
  • Does it clarify the business activities to pursue, the desired market position and capabilities you will need

If your statement answers these questions then you have a vision worth owning and sharing. A vision must be motivational to everyone inside an organisation.

The classic apocryphal story to demonstrate the effectiveness of great visions is about the time President Kennedy visited NASA. During one trip he came across a cleaner sweeping the warehouse floor, and asked him what his job at NASA was. The cleaner replied “My Job is to put a man on the moon, Sir.”

Now I don’t know if the story is true, but it’s inspiring. In a facility full of high-powered individuals and great minds, even the cleaner was completely on board with the strategy. While you may not be planning to put a person on the moon, we can learn a lot from the story. It may sound ridiculous, but every business needs to be a little like NASA.

Great visions can create an unstoppable company

Every organisation needs to have a clear vision, owned by everyone inside and outside it. An owned and shared vision creates and sustains great morale and internal strength for companies, which can become a powerful and unstoppable force in any market no matter how competitive.

At Cowden Consulting we focus on ensuring companies can successfully compete in their chosen or desired market.

Like to learn more then get in touch with at Cowden Consulting.

 

Strategy the leader's role book by Richard Gourlay

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Richard Gourlay provides advice and support for business leaders to grow and develop their business.

The power of WHY to consumers

WHY Customers’ BUY 

Traditionally customers used to buy what companies made, went where they sold it and bought what they promoted.  That was the age of big marketing and sales budgets, when big adverts worked.  Driving demand through pushing products down channels, offering promotion and celebrity endorsement to generate business.

The age of the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) we are special because….. so you will buy’! It was the 1980’s so the world did as it was told: “we make what you want because we tell you want you want because we know about your needs”.  This relied upon trust in a brand by the public, which in a pre-internet world gave complete control to the brands.

People buy if they trust the brand they are buying from. In the 1980’s people trusted brands because no-one questioned them. A lack of information coupled with a belief in household names meant that people’s buying decisions were based upon a limited width of information upon which decisions were made.

Today the world has changed. The sources of information has increased dramatically. The transparency required by companies is now at a level that every aspect of what and how a company operates is under total scrutiny. Every aspect of ever action is recorded, analysed and evaluated. Business leaders today live in a totally transparent world, and the measures of trust are now very different.

Trust, the intangible combination of character and competence which all successful brands must develop and sustain is mad cup of a whole series of complex elements.  The importance of ethics in today’s business are essential characteristics which purchasers expect their brand to portray in all their activities. That makes it a key priority for leaders’ to focus on within their role.

 

Honest is essential

Then ethics came into play, as the age of information came into play in the early years of the new millennium. As the internet began its infancy, the power of globalisation was laid bare by the internet. People asked more about how companies did things? Where were products sourced and how became important. Why were the premium footballs, such as those which David Beckham kicked, being made by blind children in India for a few rupees. Why were the clothes models wore being made in sweat shops where workers earned less than for a dollar a day?

The internet changed how the media could communicate, explaining how household names operated and could afford those huge marketing budgets. This forced companies to change their practises (and their internal policies) by educating and fighting back against the likes of Naomi Wolfs’ No Logo expose for example.  The brands who recognised that they could no longer hide their activities became more open and honest and developed trust, while those which did not, suffered public shaming and demise.

How business operated mattered, and so in response companies upped their awareness of their social impact and visibility through corporate social responsibility. How people did things mattered not just when the likes of Bhopal and Exxon Valdez disasters struck, but in everyday life.

Fair-trade has become a household name in consumer goods, with high street stores vying for credibility of having an ethical policy, supporting local goods and having transparent policies of how they operate. This gives more confidence but leaves companies open to further scrutiny and often to unsatisfactory answers to vital key questions, not at least within developing countries, who are now the fastest growing emerging markets for many brands.

Ethically; should I buy from you?

The biggest question which consumers and business now asks people is why businesses are doing these things.  Everyone has become so empowered with information sources that people want to buy the WHY, not the what. Buyers want to understand the ethics of the company and importantly the people behind the decisions it takes. Customers want to know that these decisions accurately reflect the real cultural and values that company has, not just the marketing hype, which the brand portrays. Today this is the real power of the internet.

What’s the real purpose of the company, who and what is driving it and what does it really believe in and stand for. No longer is a small donation to a local charity enough to say it supports the community, customers want to know how much, who gets involved, is it company wide and deep or just a year-end tax saving. In today’s world the importance of ethics in today’s business cannot be understated for leaders to focus upon in their role.

Ethical Values Being Lived

In fact the world has changed completely, confidence comes not from what you say but why you are saying it. The educated and informed world means that it’s not just politicians who have seen their reputation tarnished but any business in any sector who does not explain it why factor.

It’s not just whistle blowers who expose mal-practice in today’s world, everyone is communicating through so many channels, from traditional word of mouth, through social media and beyond into a connected world, where reputations must be transparent. As everyone’s voice matters, being ethically transparent, open and honest is now essential if a brand is to be trusted.

Winning customers is no longer all leaders have to focus on. Finding talented staff, channels partners and customers is now a multifaceted challenge for leaders to deal with. Ethical short-cuts damage brands reputation and those damaging allegations now stick, and become magnified to stakeholders as statements are now online, like a bad trip advisor review, it never goes. A tarnished reputation is exactly that.

No matter what sector you are in, understanding the still emerging power of the internet in sustaining your reputation is essential and never more so than in explaining why you are in business and why you matter. The importance of ethics in today’s business has never been so important to establish and maintain.

Like to learn more, then contact us at Cowden Consulting or see our website or social media channels for more about Cowden Consulting:-

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Cowden Consulting services: business planning, strategic planning, business development, strategic marketing, Return on Investment, director development, director mentoring.

Cowden Consulting works with business leaders throughout the UK to improve their business.

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Direction strategy and leadership

Strategic Planning Workshop

Strategic Planning Workshop

Strategic planning is the process of defining your business’s key priorities as a business. Successful business’s have clear priorities which their business as a whole unit focuses on to achieve. Each of these key priorities are defined within a business as a strategy. A strategy, a course of action which will deliver a pre-determined business goal.

Successful business planning is about developing your strategic plan for your business based upon proven business development tools. The Strategic Planning Workshop pulls these together into a single process. This process takes the guesswork out of your business success.

Reducing Risk: Maximising Opportunity

Taking the guess work out of your business success is a step-by-step process which develops business owners skills to strategically plan their business.  Good strategic planning enables businesses to take advantage of emerging markets, emerging trends, develop and launch new products. Strategic planning also enables companies to make structurally improvements to their business to improve its profitability, reduce costs and enhance productivity.

Strategic planning workshop is a proven method of developing and implementing success see www.cowdenconsulting.com.

Strategy: Leadership Skills

Strategic planning creates a clear direction for a business take. Working on your business, not just another day in it, crating a sense of direction, for the whole team to take. Working on your business, from developing your WHY (Simon Sinek, the power of why) through to creating a strong sense of purpose and direction. Where you are going and why is a powerful outcome from a s strategic planning workshop.

Secondly for leaders the ability to discuss their personals goals and ambitions in an environment which allows open discussion and development of those linked to their business is a real focus for personal leadership skill development.

The third leadership outcome from a  strategic planning workshop is the forward plan of where the business is going. That creating of a clear focus supported by detailed action plans moves the whole team forward as one.

Slideshare of Strategic Planning Workshop

Click the link below to begin the slideshow to learn the fundamental skills and how to undertake a strategic planning workshop.

Strategic Planning Workshop from Richard Gourlay
Strategic Planning Workshop
Like to learn more about what a strategic planning workshop delivers to business owners in creating growth, focus and direction then get in touch  and learn more. Enquries@cowdencosnulting.com or click Cowden Consulting Strategy.

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Leadership is all about VISION

Leadership IS all about Vision

Successful leadership is about having a clear vision.  A vision is a is a mental picture of what you want your business to be at some point in the future. It is a realistic aspiration. That vision gives a business a clear focus and a long-term direction, and it can stop a business heading in the wrong direction.

Great leadership is about planning your business using business planning tools to match their ambitions to the opportunities in their market. Without a vision, businesses often fall into short-term annual plan, rather than long-term sustainable entities.

Creating a Vision

Successful business owners step back to work on their business not in their business. Looking at where they are going and why. A vision is an essential element in a leaders toolkit in communication with all stakeholders and employees. It is about being more than just a product or turnover. A good vision must combine not only an aspiration but elude to the values of the business.

Good visions also aspire to where the business will provide value to customers in the future. What are the opportunities within your market and sector over the next few years. Business Planning is a process of assessing options using tried and tested business planning tools, which provide robust and accurate options for business owners to grow their business successful.

Leadership is all about VISION from Richard Gourlay

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Leadership in business is a challenge we can help with.

Have you felt the full power of the Internet Tsunami?

Have you felt the full power of the Internet Tsunami

Has the world moved for you, or did you miss it? The world of business has shifted but many businesses don’t seem to have noticed the great shift in power away from companies to the customer.
We all see the impact of the Internet in every market sector.  We see the growth of online shopping or the growth of smart phones and the online move of insurance and music online.  That shift and the corresponding growths of new consumers are just beginning to be understood, this is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. The next stage of the internet revolution has yet to be felt.

The Great Paradigm Shift

As our understanding of this shifting paradigm slowly emerges and evolves.  It takes time for its impact to be fully understood and its impacts to be really appreciated. In the same way as the impact of the introduction of domestic electricity which subsequently facilitated the introduction of the radio, which spread communication did in previous generations. So the rise in power of the Internet is more than just our ability to look stuff up and buy consumer goods online.
This paradigm shift has certain key features, which makes the rise of the Internet generation far more dramatic in its impact to business today.
Unlike many previous innovations, the move online has been done in an infinitely scalable way.  Making markets financially accessible to company’s of any size and dimension using low cost everyday technology. The whole plethora of internet software platforms provide total engagement opportunities for businesses to reach specialist or global markets. Rather than being a premium service only open to the super rich, such as the introduction of the car, airline or a global consumer product range. A good idea, service or product can now be provided through the internet instantly. The availability of multiple open software technology platforms, has lowered cost and created universal access by braking down barriers across all areas of a global market.

A Global Movement

This global shift, supported by governments and industry to reach and penetrate all and every strata of society and on an almost global reach is a new global phenomenon creating a universal shift.
Whether in New Guinea or Newfoundland, you can get a 3G signal.  Many countries like India and China just leapfrogged the copper wire landline systems of the 20th century through large parts of their country’s moving straight into the 21st century, avoiding unnecessary cost and rapidly accelerating progress throughout their country.  The Arab spring was not achieved by any three letter acronym news agency or Rupert Murdock’s media empire, but by new young mobile online generation who created, sustained and drove the rolling revolutions.
The result of the internet revolution is that the world has made a huge step forward almost overnight.  That has changed more than just the way we buy some products, it has in fact changed the way we think, and act.  This universal overnight movement has also solved the adoption dilemma for new technology.  For companies to achieve a launch of a new product or service they had to achieve a critical volume and this can now be achieved without geographic boundaries.  The internet creates multiple new routes to market, bypassing traditional routes to market, achieving profit without having to invest huge amounts of capital in awareness marketing.
Leadership in business is a challenge we can help with.

Empowered Intelligence

This paradigm shift has moved the way we think to such an extent that everything has changed. When in 1906 Admiral Sir John Fisher invented the Dreadnought battleship in 1906, he changed naval world overnight. At the time the Royal navy had 1,000 ships of the line, the introduction of the Dreadnought made them all redundant overnight. Suddenly, to be a superpower it was not the number of ships you had but how many Dreadnoughts you had and a new arms race had begun as every other battleship become redundant.
In the same way, the introduction of always available high speed broadband has made so much of business thinking redundant, not just in the collapse of use of directories such as yellow pages, dictionaries or our communication. Today people have empowered intelligence, the ability to become informed by scanning a QR code, or connecting to a highly rated source they can become more than informed, they can become actively empowered.
Networked Learning
The internet is now driving people to think and do things in different ways across many age and economic cohorts. Its not just the young buying music or consumers doing their shopping online, although both have delivered huge shifts in culture to these markets.  People’s first mental response to knowledge and decision making is now to click, look-up and become informed.
No-longer relying on our embedded historical mental heritage or through experts’ advice, people are now researching and networking their knowledge and our learning, widening knowledge and creating expert communities on almost every subject matter possible. For example to become an expert on social media you could do an online course or you could click onto Mashable and become an expert within hours. Anyone and everyone can become an expert, exposing consumer and business choice to new forces and opportunities.
You may have heard the old adage that there is more computer power in a simple watch today than on the Apollo 11 spacecraft which took man to the moon. People have at their finger tips more knowledge about companies than even the most informed company is aware off. Users groups, expert forums and review sites empower and drive decisions, in a far more effective way than traditional marketing channels can persuade customers.
In just in the same way that the Arctic Monkeys pioneered the music online community following, rather than through the plugging and playlist approval to get on the radio. Today the same today is true of consumer both in consumer and business markets.
The power of the internet is yet to be fully understood. For some it has been like a Tsunami, just as a record shop or an insurance salesman. To many others though it is an unseen force, they know its there but not what or how it operates and effects their business. But it is and it will. The sooner business wakes up to these changes the better placed they will be to compete without feeling they have one hand behind their back.

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