Multiple Variables and Business Analysis

Posted by Matthew Thomas

 
 
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matthew-thomas-2.jpgWorking in a system with multiple variables and specific limiting constraints is something most of us do every day without even thinking about it. Or if we think about these variables and constraints, we don't think of them as such. Two examples:

  1. As my toddler son is experiencing these days, it takes somewhere around 200 muscles to be coordinated, timed, and balanced just right just to walk. Keeping balance and coordination while moving forward is quite a feat, when you think about it.
  2. Driving a car. Just think about how many distinct actions a driver must take to back a car out of a driveway. Pretty overwhelming, huh? The actuaries at your auto insurance company think so, too.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe Now!Organizational systems are typically bound by constraints on three variables when doing anything from strategic planning to value delivery. These three variables are Time, Personnel, and Money. Other variables include raw materials, the size of market, geography, and scope of operations. In order to assist enterprises as they plan and grow, we find it is helpful to measure the variables under which they are operating.

(Related: Managing Multi-Thread Strategic Complexity)

The TAD software we have available can help leaders plan according to the major variables of Time, Personnel, and Money to determine efficiency for strategic themes and initiatives. This can help with prioritization and phasing so that the beat use of resources is achieved. Time, Personnel, and Money often represent the other variables, or can be derived from the other variables, so that is one of the reasons they are at the core of most operations.

In the screenshot below, a company has measured its various projects against its budget, and is showing that its work still lines up with its most efficient approach to operations. 

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The other variables, with their constraints, can be integrated into the overall strategic process, from thinking through action and on into delivery. The logistics of getting materials to the right place, in the right market, at the right price are all related to the core variables - and determine whether a business will succeed or fail.

We often hear that "you get what you measure." That is very true. Measuring the right things, and measuring the right things relative to the other right things - now that takes effort. We can help with that effort - through the TAD process and through our overall business analysis services.

How can I find out more?

As a TAD-Certified Consultant and member of the TAD Partner program, I can walk you through a demonstration of the software and work with you to see if TAD would be a good fit for your organization or project. Feel free to call 1.877.771.3330 x20 or e-mail me to find out more about TAD or our Business Analysis services. If you would like to see more about the software directly from adaQuest, visit http://www.adaquest.com/services/vision-realization/

 
 
 
 
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Topics: business plan, Matthew Thomas, business model, business analysis

Benefits of Entrepreneurship for Organizational Leaders

Posted by Matthew Thomas

 
 
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matthew-thomas-2.jpgLast week, I had the opportunity to go back to my old high school (after, well, we won't mention how many years) and teach a class for four days. Each February, The University of Illinois Laboratory High School holds a week-long  "Agora Days" where students, teachers, alumni and other friends of the school teach classes on subjects not in the usual curriculum. My class was entitled, "How to Start Your Own Business."

It was a great opportunity to reconnect with my high school Alma Mater. Entrepreneurship is not a class they currently offer, and it seemed to generate genuine interest for this four-day session. We used some of the materials from Strategyzer to frame value proposition development and overall business model design.

In offering this class, I have discovered myself an advocate for offering entrepreneurship in secondary education. Like we say with many other parts of high school student life, entrepreneurship classes create the business leaders of tomorrow. Beyond that, thought, entrepreneurship classes at the high school level have several significant benefits, including the following four:

 

  1. Entrepreneurship is a great interdisciplinary opportunity in secondary education. It is intensely integrative of social sciences, STEM, the arts, English, and even foreign languages.Like what you're reading? Subscribe Now!
  2. Entrepreneurship is a great opportunity to motivate students to look beyond the immediate or the next-to-immediate, and develop a vision for making the world a better place. This could be particularly effective in economically depressed or disadvantaged areas: students could become motivated to learn by the need to gain skills for a project that might actually become their own business. The vision of seeing a problem and applying ways to find solutions could help to overcome the poverty tunneling that reduces neighborhoods' transformational capacity. Vision can raise students' eyes above just completing school, or just getting to college, or just getting by day-to-day. It can motivate in ways that are often measurable, albeit often indirectly.
  3. Integrative subject matter, with Entrepreneurship as the example, could transform the student metrics conversation. Instead of teaching to more and more tests, students could demonstrate mastery by book-ended integrative projects - say at the beginning and ending of high school. Mastery will be much more than just facts and figures; it could be application, and we could see new technologies emerging along the way.

Related: Working from a business model perspective

  1. Entrepreneurship classes can make for a stronger democracy: students engaged in entrepreneurship will have a deeper understanding of economics, government, finances, foreign policy (tariffs vs. free trade; geopolitics and natural resources), and the motivations of people in different contexts and situations. This will likely lead them to greater engagement and participation in the democratic process.
  2. Entrepreneurship, when done well, is almost always done in teams. Helping students learn how to work together well, with different motivations and personalities, could strengthen students' soft skills as well as raise their emotional intelligence.

In truth, I have already received some small degree of pushback that curriculums are already crowded, that this is a luxury for students already proficient in the basics, and that it would be hard to do group work with individualized education plans involved.

To those challenges, I would suggest that if standardized testing days could be reduced and swapped for integrative project days, there's still a lot of room - even without new courses. Second, I suggest that integrative projects like entrepreneurship could motivate students to greater proficiency and mastery of the basics, since they will have something they really want to engage with and accomplish. Third, I suggest that projects like these might help students with individualized plans because they (and their instructors) could discover approaches to learning that could work around learning difficulties.

 Related: Conversations and Learning

What say you? As an organizational leader, what kinds of classes and approaches did you find most helpful? What were the least helpful? e-mail me and we can talk about it.

 

In the meantime, check out this article about the balance of action and reflection.

Tao of action-reflection, primer on process

 
 
 
 
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Topics: business plan, Matthew Thomas, entrepreneurship, business model

Business modeling and sales development

Posted by Matthew Thomas

 
 
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Imatthew-thomas-2.jpg spend a lot of time thinking about people's business models. I suppose you could say it's a genuine curiosity about how things work, coupled with an utter fascination about how people work together with their individual combinations of skills, experience, abilities, and temperament.

 

Yesterday, I spent quite a bit of time putting together a half-day seminar for prospective entrepreneurs. We'll deliver that seminar this week in four one-hour sessions as participants work in teams to design products and/or services around customer needs as they put together an overall business model.

 

All of this got me to thinking: how is business model development any different from what sales, marketing, and product development teams do within their companies?

 

ILike what you're reading? Subscribe Now!t's true, there's a lot of overlap. Sales, marketing, and product development have to build products and services that take care of customer jobs - and not just functional jobs, such as completing specific tasks - but the jobs that are about status, power, finesse, or security.

 

Those products and services also have to solve a customer problem - relieve one or more pain points - and, more than that, provide benefits and gains to the customer that at least meets a minimum set of expectations, and hopefully exceeds them.

 

And all of this for a price the customer is willing to pay.

 

So far, so good. So what's so different about working from a business model perspective?

 

  1. Comprehensive Scope. When we look at the business model, we zoom out from specifics to look at the overall way the business operates - from its cost and revenue structures to its key activities, customer relationships, and so on. This breaks down internal silos and helps to sift projects for development or discontinuation.
  2. Strategy vs. Tactics. Business modeling helps create a go-forward strategy, not just the next package to sell. It observes the trends, not just the immediate needs.
  3. Outsider viewpoint. We all get stuck in our ways of thinking sometimes. Having a neutral third party facilitating conversations and process can help transform mindsets to breakthrough.

 

Those are just three of the ways - there are more - but those are the most obvious.

 

Interested? e-mail me  or call 1.877.771.3330 x20 and we can talk.

 

Not sure you're ready for that? Check out this article on decision making in organizations. We've found it helps a lot of people!

Tao of action-reflection, primer on process

 
 
 
 
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Topics: business plan, Matthew Thomas, business design, business model

Business modeling and sales development

Posted by Matthew Thomas

 
 
Subscribe to  Sustainable Vision

Imatthew-thomas-2.jpg spend a lot of time thinking about people's business models. I suppose you could say it's a genuine curiosity about how things work, coupled with an utter fascination about how people work together with their individual combinations of skills, experience, abilities, and temperament.

 

Yesterday, I spent quite a bit of time putting together a half-day seminar for prospective entrepreneurs. We'll deliver that seminar this week in four one-hour sessions as participants work in teams to design products and/or services around customer needs as they put together an overall business model.

 

All of this got me to thinking: how is business model development any different from what sales, marketing, and product development teams do within their companies?

 

ILike what you're reading? Subscribe Now!t's true, there's a lot of overlap. Sales, marketing, and product development have to build products and services that take care of customer jobs - and not just functional jobs, such as completing specific tasks - but the jobs that are about status, power, finesse, or security.

 

Those products and services also have to solve a customer problem - relieve one or more pain points - and, more than that, provide benefits and gains to the customer that at least meets a minimum set of expectations, and hopefully exceeds them.

 

And all of this for a price the customer is willing to pay.

 

So far, so good. So what's so different about working from a business model perspective?

 

  1. Comprehensive Scope. When we look at the business model, we zoom out from specifics to look at the overall way the business operates - from its cost and revenue structures to its key activities, customer relationships, and so on. This breaks down internal silos and helps to sift projects for development or discontinuation.
  2. Strategy vs. Tactics. Business modeling helps create a go-forward strategy, not just the next package to sell. It observes the trends, not just the immediate needs.
  3. Outsider viewpoint. We all get stuck in our ways of thinking sometimes. Having a neutral third party facilitating conversations and process can help transform mindsets to breakthrough.

 

Those are just three of the ways - there are more - but those are the most obvious.

 

Interested? e-mail me  or call 1.877.771.3330 x20 and we can talk.

 

Not sure you're ready for that? Check out this article on decision making in organizations. We've found it helps a lot of people!

Tao of action-reflection, primer on process

 
 
 
 
.
Read More ›

Topics: business plan, Matthew Thomas, business design, business model

Steward Leaders: [Designing A Business] Client-Centeredness

Posted by Matthew Thomas

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matthew-thomas-2.jpgAs leaders who want to "Do Good while Doing Well," we care how the people around us feel, and we care about what they think. Whether employees, constituents, clients, customers, funders, or even the general public, people, and the impacts we have on communities of people, are important to us. Doing this implies a certain level of client- (or customer-, or constituent-, or member-) centeredness.

I can relate. I'm building my personal brand around client-centeredness. Our firm as a whole focuses on helping organizations and their leaders - which is inherently a client-centered position.

It's sometimes difficult to keep this focus, isn't it? And honestly, some of our best business advice, if taken to an extreme, pushes us off client-centeredness to a different orientation, for instance:

  • Focus on what you do well;
  • Keep overhead low;
  • Protect your intellectual property;
  • Help your clients/customers/constituents discover what they really need (even if they don't know they need it yet).

Like what you're reading? Subscribe Now! All of these things are good things. And, taken together, they are the hallmarks of good business. But unless client-centeredness is not just the "what" of our business, but also the "why," these good things can become very self-serving:

  • Focusing on what you do well can a focus on ourselves;
  • Keeping overhead low can become either cheap on the customer side or abusive on the employee side;
  • Protection of our property can make us grasping, militant, or litigious;
  • Helping people surface unknown or unrealized needs can cause customers to waste resources on trifles rather than truly gain value.

The "why" reminds us that we are client-centered not just because it's what we do, "we serve customers," but because the client (or customer or constituent, etc.) really matters. They become, at some level, the reason we exist. We are stewards of others' resources - not the least of which is customer trust.

(Related: The Story We Tell with Cost and Value)

When designing our businesses, we have choices as to where we start. We start with an idea; we start with a customer; we start with a product; we start with a value proposition; we start with an activity. Client-centeredness means that no matter what our starting point, at some stage of our business development we take a clear-eyed look at our business model and business plan and orient ourselves to the customer/client segments we have identified, and then build for them - not just to them. We build the kinds of relationships they need. We communicate and deliver value along channels they prefer, and we tailor our value propositions to their most essential jobs, desired gains, and most grievous pains.

Recently, I've been using a tool called the Business Model Canvas to help leaders think through their overall business design. (Don't worry, it's incredibly helpful for non-profits and other non-traditional organizational types as well!) It's not a tool we have designed ourselves - but we know a good one when we see it. Check it out here.

Once you've had a chance to sit and look at it, let's talk about how we could use it to assess and design client-centeredness in your business or organization.  Feel free to call me (toll-free) at 1.877.771.3330 x20, or e-mail me . I'd be glad to help you find simple, clear approaches to increasing your client-centeredness.

 

In service,

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Topics: client centered, business plan, steward leadership, business design, business model, business models

Steward Leadership: Three questions for clearly describing what you do

Posted by Matthew Thomas

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matthew-thomas-2One of the most basic marketing questions steward leaders ask is how we describe what we do to a potential client or customer. We have to be able to do this within the potential client's attention span - whether as an "elevator conversation" or as a more elaborated description.

 

I find that there are three basic questions steward leaders must ask to find the level of flexible clarity needed in a variety of settings:

 

  1. What problem(s) do I solve for a client / customer?
  2. How do I describe those solutions clearly?
  3. How do I describe the value I bring that will engage the client / customer?

 

Putting these three together will bring a lot of clarity and simplicity. Case in point: my own work of process consultation in organizational design is notoriously hard to describe to people outside the organizational design community. Part of this is because a lot of it seems so simple, yet hard to explain why expertise is needed. Moreover, there are a lot of stereotypes of management consultants that skew mindsets away from the reality of the work. For instance, the OfficeSpace question of "What do you actually DO here?" Steward leadership of time and clarity require cutting through these complexities to the basics.

 

Like what you're reading? Subscribe Now! Applying these three questions to myself, I was able to drill down to the following statement:

 

"I help leaders work through complex challenges so they can fulfill their mission with innovative excellence."

 

Working backwards from that statement, we can illustrate the questions:

 

Question 1: I help make complex situations simple and understandable for leaders of organizational systems so they can make sound decisions based on real and accurate information.

 

Question 2: I describe those solutions clearly not by mentioning the tools I use until the first statement has invited further elaboration: The tools are organizational design, financial strategy, and business planning, all within a needs-based, customized process, best suited to steward leaders who want to do good while doing well.

 

Question 3: The value I bring is innovative excellence - there will be something new, done well, within the values and priorities the leader and the leader's organization define.

 

How can we help?   Connect with Matt Thomas! The What statement, "I help leaders work through complex challenges so they can fulfill their mission with innovative excellence," is much clearer after answering the questions. It also leads to a How statement:

 

"We work with leaders to design processes to work through their specific challenges using the tools of organizational design, financial strategy, and business planning."

 

Where do the three questions lead you?

 

Wheel or Spiral? Which is your organization?

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Topics: business plan, Matthew Thomas, steward leadership