Wednesday, 30 April 2014

How to Execute a 15-Word Strategy Statement

There is no shortage of stories and anecdotes to illustrate how the best strategies can nearly always be reduced down to a brief but powerful statement and even more ink has been spilled describing the dangers of strategy statements that read like detailed action plans.

But how do you go about actually crafting — and using — a 15-word strategy statement?

My approach is based on narrative techniques. I begin by working with clients to write a story based on this template:

Once upon a time there was (insert a name who exemplifies your target customer/consumer) …. . Every day he/she (insert here his/her frustration or job to be done) …. . One day we developed (insert here the product/solution and what are actually the 2-3 things we offer or not) … . Until finally (insert here the end result for the customer/consumer compared to competition) … .

A few years ago, I facilitated a strategic innovation workshop for a swimwear manufacturer. We were trying to put together a value proposition for very occasional swimmers who don’t like to practice the sport in a pool, and whose water experience is essentially little more than paddling in the sea or sitting in a small private pool.

We started by watching videos of these swimmers, from smartphone footage taken by sales people visiting public pools around the world that had then been posted on an internal collaboration platform, along with observations from the people taking the shots about what the swimmers seemed to find most difficult.

The workshop participants clustered the individual swimmers’ pain points into a number of categories, which they ranked along two metrics. The first metric was a product of the degree of the pain and how many swimmers experienced it and the second was a measure of actionability: could a new product or service feature resolve the problem?

With this information we designed a value proposition together, using the Blue Ocean Strategy canvas approach, on which value propositions can be compared in terms of their features. The canvas had two lines, one for the company’s proposition and one for the industry standard, so that we could see how we would differ from the competition.

With a better understanding of the pain-points of the targeted occasional swimmers and the kind of value proposition that could tempt them into the water, the workshop participants were able to build a storyline. They came up with the following narrative:

Once upon a time there was a woman called Rosemary, who had learned and practiced only the basic swimming techniques to float and make short moves in the water. Every single time she visited a pool, she felt unease due to a perception of breathing water risk, immediate physical fatigue due to incorrect stroke movements and inconvenience related to the pool check in and out process. One day, our company developed a set of products and services that offered Rosemary all she needed to enjoy her pool experience. Finally, someone had brought joy to Rosemary’s pool experience and she moved from the gym to the water for her winter exercise.

Once we reached agreement on the strategy story, we were then able to distill from it a 15-word statement that identified the job the company had to do and for whom: “We aim to bring joy to the pool experience cycle of every swimmer, nobody excluded.”

Guided by this statement the company designed and developed a number of add-on product features, including most notably a pair of plastic fins that could be fixed on to most goggles to facilitate breathing, a big problem for most beginners. The plastic fins make it easier to breathe into the air pocket by the swimmer’s head by enhancing the bow wave from the head, thus protecting the swimmer’s mouth and nose from splashes and water drops. Because the swimmer struggles less to breathe, she can concentrate on her stroke and swim better, and generally have a more comfortable pool experience.

The narrative exercise of creating a clear strategy statement had helped the workshop understand what kind of value proposition the company needed to create in order to attract a new class of customers and resulted in a clear strategy statement that both coordinated people internally and positioned the company attractively in the market.

(Source : Alessandro Di Fiore,  Harvard Business Review)

The new form of retail marketing - TESCO Homeplus, Korea

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Age should not be a barrier to learning.

Former Radio Malaysia broadcaster Elisabeth Kirkby became Australia’s oldest graduate in Doctorate in Philosophy (PhD) when she received her degree from the University of Sydney at age 93 recently.

Her thesis was a comparative study of the Great Depression and the Global Financial Crisis, both of which she lived through.
The former Member of Parliament for the Democrats, who was born in Lancashire, England, in 1921, has a diverse and varied career, including as soapy star “Lucy Sutcliffe” in the risque 1970s hit TV show, Number 96, a sheep and wheat farmer, and a journalist.

The great grandmother had worked as broadcaster in Malaya/Malaysia  and Singapore for 15 years after World War 2 before arriving in Sydney in 1965 and joining ABC as an on-air presenter.

In an interview with The Australian newspaper recently, she said: “A love of learning is essential.

“I say that to people, that you really have to have an enthusiasm or passion for something. You can’t believe that when you retire, you just play golf or bowl or sit round with your mates.

“You always have to do something,” said the wife of 1970s feminist health warrior and gynaecologist Derek Llewellyn-Jones, who authored the book Everywoman.
This is certainly inspiring. To excel in one's pursuit is certainly gratifying but to do it at 93 years of age, is far out awesome! 

Believe it or not, age is no barrier to learning.  I have been a part-time lecturer for many years and on two occasions, there was one intake which has a student who was the sales manager of a drink company and he was 52 years. He later went on to obtain his MBA from an UK university. 

At another intake, there was this student, aged 55 years and was the sales manager of a tyre company. He obtained the degree I was lecturing in and subsequently, went on to pursue his MBA. 

I guess the learning process does not cease when one reaches 55. It is on-going till the day we draw our last breath.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Personal Data Protection Act 2010

For many of you who are in Marketing, Sales, Customer Service and Telemarketing, please take note of the following which was announced last November.

The Communication and Multimedia Ministry today announced that the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 came into force on Nov 15.

The act was introduced specifically for the purpose of preventing the misuse of people's personal data for commercial purposes, said Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek.

Those categorised as users of data had until Feb 15 2014 to register with the Personal Data Protection Department, he said, adding that it was an offence to disclose personal data to third parties without the consent of the owner.

Ahmad Shabery said the act ensured information security, network reliability and integrity of data protection in the country.

He said Malaysia was the first country among the Asean nations which had enforced such an act, and thus would make a reality of the objective of the transformation of Malaysia into a developed country.

"Protecting personal data is a huge social responsibility as the Big Data industry in Malaysia is growing rapidly, and it also encompasses the question of personal data and other important information of an organisation," he told a news conference at the ministry.

Shabery said he estimated that 25,000 institutions in the country were categorised as data users and had to be registered under the act.

Answering a question about the seriousness of problems related to leakage of personal data, he said he learned that every month Cyber Security received 800 to 1,000 complaints of personal information being distributed to those who were not supposed to get it.

Shabery also announced the appointment of the Personal Data Protection Department director-general Abu Hassan Ismail as the first Personal Data Protection Commissioner.

Meanwhile, in a media release, the department defined data users as those who processed personal data or had control over such data or authorised the processing of personal data.

It listed 11 sectors classified as data users, encompassing the communication, banking and financial institutions, insurance, health, tourism and hospitality, transport, education, direct selling, services, real estate and utilities sectors.

It also listed the various offences and penalties under the act, including a fine of up to RM500,000 or a jail term of up to three years for processing personal data without a certificate of registration or after the registration had been revoked.

[Source : Bernama]