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BE DiFFERENT Creation Process

by Roy Osing on Feb.07, 2010, under Friends of ClearWater

BE DiFFERENT Creation Process

Roy Osing
Brilliance for Business
To link to Roy’s web-site click here.
To learn more about his book, click here


This post combines three short blogs from Roy Osing, answering three questions of the four questions in the creation process of BE DiFFERENT. The final part (4th question, will be posted shortly). Stay tuned for the final question: How to build your Strategic Game Plan…. the elevator speech of your strategy!

HOW BIG do you want to be?

Traditional strategy-building methodology typically begins with an analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It then moves on to developing an overall strategic direction. Objectives and action plans are struck. Finally the expected financial results are produced. They are the output of the strategy-creation process.

In my experience, the financial results get scrutinized by the top executive and often get modified as the CFO and CEO decide they simply aren’t aggressive enough. Sound familiar? As a result, higher growth and financial numbers are driven out of the tabled strategy rather than adjusting the strategy to deliver more aggressive financial results.

This is a huge mistake. Assuming that the assumptions behind the plan are reasonable and acceptable, forcing more aggressive numbers from a strategy without increasing strategic risk is a fool’s game. The expected higher performance numbers will not happen.

The BE DiFFERENT Practice is to treat growth and financial expectations as inputs to the strategy-building process. Do you want to grow top line revenues 25% over the next 36 months? Or would you be satisfied with growing at 10%? Clearly the former target would require more resources and would entail greater risk than the more modest scenario.

In addition, the character of the strategies would be different. The 25% growth strategy would require a different set of actions than the 10% incremental option. For example bolder growth expectations might require new markets and strategic partnerships that might not be necessary under a modest growth plan. The bolder the plan the more you have to move away from organic growth.

So declare right up front the growth and financials you intend to achieve and THEN develop the strategy to deliver them. And if you have been growing at 10% don’t expect doing more of what you have been doing will be good enough to deliver on a 25% plan. It won’t happen. You will have to be more creative, more aggressive and be more accepting of more risk. If not, suck it up and be prepared to stay with your 10% strategy.

WHO do you want to SERVE?

The second step in the BE DiFFERENT strategy creation process is to decide on the customers you intend to serve. Can they generate the growth you are expecting? You may have the competencies they require but if they don’t have the latent potential to meet your HOW BIG objectives, should you be chasing them? You can, and it may feel good, but unfortunately you might fall short of your financial goals..

HOW BIG should determine WHO to SERVE.

There’s no such thing as a bad customer; its just that some are better than others. Examine the customer groups that you currently do business with. Given the current economic realities, can they deliver to your new financial expectations? Are their market characteristics appropriate to give you the growth you want? Apart from demand factors, what about the competitive environment – is it intense or are there opportunities to enhance your market position?

Carefully evaluate your options and choose the customer segments that can deliver you BOTH the growth you need as well as leverage the competencies of your organization.

Here are some factors to consider in evaluating which customers to dedicate your efforts to:
- customer groups in which your customer share position is low. If you currently have a small percentage of their total business you have a good growth potential.
- look at markets that are currently growing in the double digits and where you have an advantage over others.
- geographically defined segments which have easy access at relatively low cost
- high lifetime value customer clusters where investments will provide healthy returns over the long term. 

What do you do with customer groups you currently serve but can’t serve your growth and financial needs? Be prepared to walk away from them. You have to let them go in favour of focusing on the few choice segments that will provide the return on investment that you need.

HOW will you compete and WIN?

 The answer to the HOW to WIN question dries a stake in the ground in terms of how you will differentiate yourself from your competitors and beat them handily.

And it follows the WHO to SERVE question. You are looking for uniqueness relative to the customer groups you have chosen to target and not the market generally. This is very important. If you have chosen customer groups ‘A’ and ‘B’ for example, then you will be trying to differentiate yourself from others vying for the attention of these two groups specifically. You will be searching for ways of delivering what these two groups want in a more compelling and special way than anyone else attempting to do the same thing.

Answering the HOW to WIN question involves in-depth competitor analysis: Who are they; what are their strategies? How do they differentiate? What is their value proposition?

As a practical (but difficult) way of determining your DiFFERENT competitive position, I have talked in my book and my blogs about the only Statement. The only statement which in my view is the ultimate manifestation of a unique competitive position in the marketplace reads:
‘We are the only ones that…’

This is not a task for the faint-of-heart. Engage your team in the task. It involves looking at every nook and cranny in your organization for opportunities to separate yourselves from the pack – brand, service, product, product support, and how you leverage technology are some examples of where you can look.


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