When people talk about having a “strategy,” they often consider this just one thing– usually a revenue growth target.
While it’s important to have a clear and focused one-phase strategy, there are actually 7 “Strata” [layers] of strategic thinking, from the Scaling Up process:
1. Mindshare — what words do you own in the minds of customers and prospects?
2. Brand Promise— who is your core customer, what needs are you providing for them, three brand promises that are compelling reasons to buy from you, and metrics to know if you are delivering on those promises.
3. Brand Promise guarantee— what you offer to your customers if you break your promise
4. One-phrase strategy— the key competitive “lever” that drives profits, serves your core customer and repels other prospects and competitors [example IKEA is flat-pack furniture]
5. Differentiating activities-– what your business does to execute your one-phrase strategy and is hard for your competitors to copy
6. X-factor— your hidden advantage that allows you to deliver 10-100 times the value compared to your competitors, often expressed as Profit per X [an example is Southwest airlines focus on profit per plane, not per passenger or mile]
7. BHAG [credited to Jim Collins]– your Big Hairy Audacious Goal– your 25-year goal that is aligned with your Purpose and often expressed by X-factor
All of these 7 Strata are designed to be aligned with your Purpose and Core Values and clearly communicated to your whole team on a One-Page Strategic Plan.
When you have clarity and focus on these 7 key elements, they are an amazing filter to make decisions and focus your priorities and efforts.
If you would like more explanation and examples, contact us to receive an executive summary of Scaling Up by Verne Harnish.
To start defining your specific “7 Strata” layers to built into your market dominating strategy– click here to download the Scaling Up 7 Strata worksheet.
Not everyone has the determination and stamina to grow their company. It’s not for quitters or the faint of heart.
Maybe this describes your life today:
I know many owners who have reached overwhelm or burnout – they actually dread adding another customer or employee.
It feels like they are just adding more weight to heavy anchor they are pulling uphill, and dragging some of their team with them.
To make matters worse, increased sales cause cash flow issues and profits aren’t rising as fast.
They work long hours, and sometimes they wonder if the journey is worth the effort.
When I was VP in my family business, my Mom and I felt the same way, and we had all 4 of these growing pains:
STRATEGY: Lack of Strategy to grow sustainable sales
PEOPLE: Not having the right people in the right roles who are accountable for results
EXECUTION: Processes and communication strain or break down
CASH flow issues
If this sounds like you, then I want to share with you the “Scaling Up” process described in the best-selling book by Verne Harnish, and used by thousands of companies to grow faster, more profitably, with less drama.
I am just back from presenting “Scaling Up Your People for Growth” two times last week– one to a startup incubator and once for the Scaling Up Workshop in Niagara on the Lake with established growing companies. (Take a look below for a short summary of the “People” section from the book.)
One of the exercises we used at the workshop was for the owners/ founders to evaluate the “alignment” of their team.
“The leader’s final job is “to keep the main thing the main thing” — to keep the organization on message and everyone heading in the same direction” -Verne Harnish, in his book “Scaling Up,”
Here is a list of questions you can use to evaluate the health and alignment of your team:
The executive team is “healthy” (no dysfunctional behaviors)
Everyone is aligned with the #1 thing that needs to be accomplished to move the company forward
Communication rhythm is established and information moves through the organization accurately and quickly
Every facet of the organization has a person assigned with accountability for ensuring goals are met
Ongoing employee input is collected to identify obstacles and opportunities
Reporting and analysis of Customer Feedback data is as frequent and accurate as financial data
Core Values and Purpose are “alive” in the organization *
Employees can accurately articulate the key components of the company’s strategy: Who are our core customers? What is our brand promises? Where does the company sees itself in 5 years? What is the company’s elevator pitch?
All employees can answer quantitatively whether they had a good day or week [“everyone has a number”]
The company’s plans and performance are visible to everyone
I am sure you have experienced the challenges when “one hand does not know what the other is doing” — and you know it is not the most effective way to run a team or a business.
–> So take a few minutes to rate your team on the 10 questions above, and see where you need to improve clarity, focus, and alignment for a healthy team and to achieve more success.
If you want to “grow” your business 20% or more in the next year… what is your plan to make it happen?
Do you have an achievable sales plan? Great!
What about a People Plan to handle the additional work and keep your customers happy?
Are you planning any changes to your process or technology to be more efficient?
Do you have a plan to handle the increased cash needs that always come with growth?
Most companies focus on the sales side of growth and just let the People and Operations side just figure itself out… this approach causes the “growing pains.”
You might be surprised to know that I speak to business owners every month who want to grow 20% next year, but they don’t have a plan to get the sales and/or handle the extra work.
“More companies die from indigestion than starvation.” – Dave Packard, Hewlett Packard
According to the book “Scaling Up” by Verne Harnish, these are 4 warning signs that you aren’t ready for more sales:
Your profits are at or below the industry average [or you don’t know what that is]
Processes are not running smoothly now
There is drama on the team or from customers from missed deadlines, increasing mistakes, lack of resources, and “communication” issues
People are working overtime to fix problems
At the very time when the focus becomes more important, your key people start being “too busy” putting out fires to work “on” the business.
Maybe you are doing this too…
Getting dragged into daily work instead of setting aside time to evaluate, plan and work on the key projects that will improve the business.
A few real-life examples:
I spoke with three business owners this week who are living this right now.
One almost doubled the revenue but the profits plummeted.
another doesn’t have the hourly staff in place to handle several new clients so she is filling in and training $12 an hour staff.
A third added more customers but one technician team “burned out” and quit… now he is back in the field and everyone is working 50+ hours handling the overload, and revenues are down 20% and profits are zero. Ouch!
What is the solution?
Build the 4 Foundations to Scale Up– Strategy 6 People + Execution + Cash– all TOGETHER.
Changes to one of these four impacts the other 3– so you need to look at the “whole picture” of your business.
[from “Scaling Up” by Verne Harnish- graphic from book summary by Readingraphics]