Tag: business development

The Value Of Lessons Learned

October 12th, 2016   •   no comments   

A lot can be learned from listening to sports coaches when they talk about not getting too high over a victory or too low over a loss.  Everything has to be kept in perspective. In business, mistakes happen, all kinds of disasters occur, and sometimes they result in doors closing.  On the other hand, there can be a surprise win- landing a big account, vaulting ahead of the competition. But being number one can be short lived. Neither troubled times nor great times are going to be permanent.  What can we learn from both conditions?

lessonslearned10122016_Fighter pilots file after action reports. Football players review game films to go over what went well and what did not.  Business leaders can use similar practices to use the past to help build the future.

The practice followed by many successful leaders is “review, reflect and revise”.  This involves more than just evaluating the end game. It means applying the process to every plan, every play, every role and player from inception through  to  conclusion. This simple process leads to catching mistakes before they happen and become disasters, snatching success from the possibility of failure.

Rather than being the leader that celebrates every success and bemoans every failure, are you willing to join the league of leaders that uses an ongoing approach to continually learn lessons from what has come before and use them to advise their future?

Moving the Business to the Next Level

June 8th, 2016   •   no comments   

What does it mean to move to the next level? It is a phrase often spouted without clarifying how it is being used.  It could be the next level in gross sales, moving from $5 million to $10 million. It could mean moving to the next level in product development, moving from a single product or service line to more than one. It could also mean that the organization is becoming more diverse in the way it is structured with more individuals fulfilling individual functions rather than a few wearing several hats.

next level_6_8_2016Next level thinking requires a strategy and a lot of planning. It doesn’t just occur. Growth can be organic or by acquisition- both require forethought. Innovation to create new products or services is a process, and the better the process the more likely the success.

One of the big questions to be answered  – What will the organization gain by moving to the next level? If top line sales growth wreaks havoc with sales strategies and lowers margins substantially, is it worth it? If unmanaged and miscommunicated  innovation destroys process and dilutes the company’s brand, what was gained?

The next level is about construction. We have all played with blocks or played jenga. It’s working collaboratively to move the business vision to the next stage. Construction takes a strong foundation insuring that  each layer above is stable as well as strong.  Trying to build on a weak foundation leads to disaster.

Your strategy in thinking about the “next level” should start with a good hard look at the present state. Is your desire to move to the next level blinding you to a need to address the present state first?

Change Happens – Will You Build Walls or Windmills?

August 6th, 2014   •   no comments   


Whether one likes it or not, change happens. The change itself is not good or bad, in reality it’s quite neutral.  It becomes good or bad based on these two major factors – resistance or engagement. Interestingly enough, experience and research seems to bear out that more walls are built by individuals and organizations around change than windmills.With the economic and social climates in constant flux there is a feeling of instability which causes strong actions and emotions.

Walls are built because…

  • The business structure is so fixed and elaborate that it becomes a maze to work around and through. Impacting change and making suggestions has to go through so many hoops that people become frustrated at every turn and decide it’s easier, and safer, to do what has been dictated by performance and job standards.  As a result, rather than attempt change and challenge, they will continue on a path that doesn’t make sense but keeps them employed or in business.
  • The vision, mission and values have become buried under the two “B‘s” – bureaucracy and baloney.  The culture has become inundated with agendas, rumors,  intimidation and rhetoric. Consider the recent layoff from Microsoft as published in the article published in New York News and Politics,Microsoft Just Laid Off Thousands of Employees With a Hilariously Bad Memo .  This change not only affected the employees that were laid off, but also built walls of resistance not just for the current employees, but for future employees and the world-at-large’s perception of how Microsoft will deal with change.
  • The market niche’ fits perfectly.  Stay small and safe. Keep delivering the same reliable, tested product and service over and over again and business will hum along at a predictable pace. In the meantime,  competitors streak past.

Windmills are built because…

  • There is flexibility built into the culture so that new ideas, innovation and creativity are continually generated, acknowledged and tested. Chief Change Officer is the new coveted title.
  • As a fundamental core values of the business, change is not just given lip service. From the boardroom to the basement, clear actions and behaviors are defined and described for all to appreciate and embrace.
  • Change is viewed as an opportunity.  In 2013, The Guardian published, Campbell Soup CEO: “You can lead the change or be victim of change.’   Denise Morrison, CEO since 2011 realized that change was a leading factor in sustainability and embraces change to set Campbell apart as a “tastemaster” not a “trendsetter.

Change Happens

Change happens as sure as the sun rises and sets.  As 720thinkers, we prefer to build windmills. How about you, will you built walls or windmills?


Complement, Don’t Copy

April 10th, 2014   •   1 comment   

One of the biggest mistakes made today in business is that leaders and followers are all to anxious to copy and not complement.  The best compliment (yes, this is spelled with an “i” and  defined as praise or tribute to) we can offer to our company is perform in a manner that serves to complement (spelled this time with an “e” and defined as match, balance, pair).

4_9_2014_copyingIf we think we are complimenting the interviewer, boss or the board by copying mannerisms, ideas, actions, we are doing the business and leadership a serious disservice. The sad part is the interviewer, boss or board may believe that being copied is a tribute. It usually is, to one’s ego.

So, what happens when the person in authority chooses to use their authority to wield power and hire those best at copying them, their ideologies and behaviors? 

Here’s how copying “compliments” the organization:


  • support personal interests rather than the interests of the organization
  • play it safe
  • play follow-the-leader game really, well
  • limit creativity and innovation
  • fail to proactively make decisions and problem solve
  • deliver substandard performance
  • be miss-fit for/or in role
  • passive to change
  • lack accountability and commitment to the vision and mission
  • the work climate and environment are if not toxic, definitely not at peak performance

4_9_2014_complementThis list could go on, however, let’s focus differently and ask a more positive question.

What if the person  in authority, appreciates their power and wants individuals show up as a  complement to organization; to serve in roles that best fits their skills and talents and best serves the mission and objectives of the organization?

Here’s how complementing can “compliment” the organization…


  • are clear on expectations, because if they are not evident, they are comfortable enough to ask because communication is a two-way street
  • risk takers and proactively identify challenges and actively seek opportunities to change
  • innovation and creativity abound
  • professional growth and development are front and center
  • role fit is fostered and promotions from within are prevalent
  • support the culture with active participation and energetic, positive  decision making and problem solving.

There are many drawbacks to copying others. People hide their talent and their potential to be hired or to fit in, believing that it is better to mimic someone else, rather than be true to their own talents.  This certainly not a compliment to anyone and certainly not to the organization.

For organizations and individuals to be successful, it is imperative that we use our competencies and abilities to complement the organization.  To bring value upon hire and to continually add value which leads to sustainable growth and true partnering and engagement.

The benefits of using our role to complement the situation greatest compliment we can pay to our organizations.  Complement, don’t copy!


720thinking for Year End Mining Your Business

December 13th, 2013   •   no comments   

Yes, the year has sped by. We are literally days away from 2014. It seems like a good time to do some 720thinking review and reflection.

All too often , the annual business review  is an event, not a process. We, as 720thinkers, take this time to use the process and polish our lenses to ensure that we  capture the most  clear, honest and relevant data,  information and feedback as possible. The concrete review is easy, finances are usually red or black. Surveys, endorsements and testimonials often make it to the business websites, but, believe it or not, even anecdotal  comments and commentaries (come on even the negative ones) can help the most successful or the most floundering company to help tee-up 2014 to be a more successful year.   For starters, collect those random post-it notes, scraps of paper or napkins that you penned a crazy idea while kibitzing in a bar, organize and scan into a file and take time to reflect and review.  You never know what “gem” might be hiding that can take your business to a whole new level or in a very different direction.

This exercise is not for the faint of heart or New Year’s Eve. Even starting now, quite frankly is a little late, but at the old saying goes, “it’s better late than never.” And, because it’s a process, we suggest that successful businesses can start the process now using it as a benchmarking opportunity for the future.  Because 720thinking is so multidimensional, we have adopted and adapted the following four tools to help organize the process for you.  Include as many of your trusted  advisers as possible.

four_scopesSome questions to consider from each of  the above four points-of-view :

1.  No matter the size of the business, how does your internal culture stack up in comparison to the “good to great” companies?

2. How widely is the external brand of your product or service known?

3. What has affected your business decisions over the course of the year?

4. How well did your communicate your value, quality, and product or service to the does the “world”?

5. What are your clients, stakeholders, partners, employees, investors, prospects and suspects perceptions of your business FORCES:

  • Focus: vision
  • Optimizers: leadership
  • Resources: collaborative partners and team
  • Connectivity: customer loyalty
  • Engagement: employees
  • Sustainability: business acumen

6.  How have you used the following  multipliers to add to or detract from your business? Consider describing and defining very specific behaviors that supported or violated these six values.

  • Integrity
  • Innovation
  • Courage
  • Accountability
  • Motivation
  • Results

Mining_Your_business_Dec 12_2013These simple questions can be used in your year-end process tohelp review and reflect on those lost opportunities, learn from those catastrophic events, or build on those marvelous successes.  Keep in mind, this is just the start of a much bigger process.   What about it, are your up to using some 720thinking to “mine your business?”  Because if you are, you will find it essential to take charge and makes changes in your major business strategy and objectives, set new goals and take much more deliberate and committed action towards success.




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