Monday, January 16, 2017

Episode 3 - Business Skill 1 - Develop Vision and Strategy - Part 1


AppsJack Podcasts Episode 3 - Developing Vision & Strategy - James Murray, Steven Kubacki, Christian Harris

AppsJack Podcast Episode 3 - Developing Vision & Strategy

January 14, 2017
Seattle, WA

From the Guests

Eric
  • Vision is Step 3 of Kotter’s 8 Steps and the beginning of the APQC PCF.
  • Name and brand shouldn’t change very often
  • Linear path thinking isn’t going to be great; still need to be flexible and shouldn’t think of the vision and mission
  • Businesses have many interfaces (people, products, services, collateral)
  • You have an ability as a leader to embody what you create in positive ways
  • Products and services should also embody the products and services
James
  • Need to get clear on purpose and reason
  • Leadership determines the environment and culture
  • Culture should attract the right people and repel the rest
  • Tactics can change always, no big deal
  • Differences between what people say and what they do
  • Everything in terms of the vision should infiltrate and align inside and out
Steve
  • Cancer App
  • Virtual Reality
  • Vision, Values, Strategy, Mission
  • “Anchoring”
  • Leadership and leadership style/personal style is pretty important
  • Be aware of who they are and what they’re like. Be clear of traits and values.
  • Vision driven to some degree by your product. “Depends what you’re making.”
  • Product can (maybe should?) drive vision
  • Short- and long-term visions
  • Some of the values get thrown around but don’t really mean anything and lead to inauthenticity and a bad perception from the outside
  • First, people need to be clear about themselves
  • The window dressing will later come to harm you
  • People have to feel and believe in the vision and be on board
Christian
  • Values inform the vision
  • Strategies likely more dynamic and visions
  • Need to realign and adjust on a recurring basis
  • Learning can re-inform strategy and vision and values
  • Differences between SMB and Enterprise in even what these things mean
  • Can’t be on paper, must be lived out

Generally, Further Pursuit and Takeaways

Questions to Ponder and Review
  • Why is sharing a vision step 3 in Kotter’s 8 step leading change process yet the beginning of the PCF?
  • What are the fast- and slow-changing aspects of vision and strategy (what should be fixed and/or set in stone vs. things that are more malleable and flexible?)
  • What are the most important “interfaces” of business? Examples include the leadership, employees, products, services, collateral, etc.
  • What do we call the relationship and overlap between the value found in a company’s products and within its leaders and founders?
  • How does a company’s choice in product line(s) impact their mission or vision?
Points
  • Adjusting is not a word that came up but I think it’s a very good one to describe the right mindset and behavior for business and life.
  • The importance of culture, per se, and how it should both repel and attract at the same time (multi-modal and dynamic)
  • The center of it all hinges on the quality and decisions of the individual founder.
  • Creating a shared sense of positive feeling and believing are important outcomes that the company’s “designers” (founders) should seek to create.

BRAND, NICHE, DIFFERENTIATION, APPLICATION

Eric

  • Brand as insignia of values and vision
  • Things can and should be by design and intentionally, not by accident or luck
  • Brand and culture are quite similar concepts
  • It helps with storytelling
  • Questions become more analytical once niched and focused
  • Want to be specific to your audience then, localize then
  • Can tell and explain the narrative far better at a lower, more specific level
  • The high level stuff is about the supply side. But there’s also a demand side that needs to align. Story telling a glue and skid between the two.
  • Can sell better with niching
  • Localize your value to local market
  • Need an operational and supply side view for employees

James

  • Niche and focus similar
  • Can always niche up once you have niched down but if you haven’t niched down further, then it’s hard when pressed and requested
  • Story about a guy that sold databases to cities under a specific size doubled his money every time he narrowed his niche
  • Costs less to niche down (more efficient)
  • As a leader I have to build a culture that will keep my employees aligned with me and be proud to work with me
  • We need to have a vision and mission that is for employees and customers

Steve

  • Nike works because it is different from everyone else
  • “What can we do that’s different?”
  • Developing a narrative helps differentiate and create a sense of authenticity
  • Can become too narrow
  • Having the right narrative is pretty important
  • Must also attract employees
  • The employee and talent attraction part must be part of the strategy, not just thinking about the market (must be holistic) or about all critical stakeholder types

Christian

  • The default mentality is shotgun approach and see what sticks
  • Don’t want to leave your entire livelihood up to chance
  • Have to be niche to attract the right people
  • Real estate examples and their effectiveness
  • The power of niche marketing
  • Many similarities between attracting customers and employees (simpler if these things align and there’s not a left and right hand)

Generally

  • Other than personal/corporate values and qualities, brand is another central theme to the identity of the organization.
  • Specificity of vision, finding and talking about a niche, and localizing are great tools for better storytelling, sales and connecting to your audience.
  • Storytelling is a currency for communicating value from the supply side to the demand(ing) side.
  • Once you ‘niche down’ you can always go back up, but if you haven’t niched down far enough you are at risk to lose your audience.
  • The vision, values, brand, etc. of a company should be equally appealing to both customers and employees because both need to be excited, engaged and believe.
  • Strategies need to be inclusive and integrative of many aspects both internal and external but also need to be very simple and easy to communicate.

CULTURE

Eric

  • Culture is the swamp
  • You’re creating a swamp but you want the swamp to be more like a hot tub
  • Culture can’t be static or stay the same, they are necessarily dynamic

Steve

  • Culture should be adaptive and not static
  • You always need new input
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • As a business gets larger, how the culture gets implemented changes
  • Differences in business sizes impact culture
  • Hierarchy can be part of culture
  • Some organizations don’t even have a leader
  • Many businesses are co-ops and have different ‘governments’

General

  • What are the best corporate cultures like and why? Do they necessarily serve the good of the organization or can they become cancerous leeches that eat away at the vision and mission?
  • How can founders design and redesign culture at the beginning, middle and end of a company’s lifecycle?
  • What are the differences in function between a tops-down, leader-based organization and a co-operative style organization? (How do co-op style groups work?)
  • Culture is a necessarily dynamic thing and should also be adaptive.
  • There are differences in the size of the organization that impact culture and the founders design of the culture, too, needs to change as things within the company change.

STRATEGY

Eric

  • Differences between Army and Microsoft?
  • Grand strategy and grand plan (‘the one’) that gets broken down into smaller things and pieces (separation of concerns)
  • Risk, compliance, remediation and resiliency an entirely different domain within PCF
  • Need to localize the strategy to a low level item
  • Strategies at the task level are not very complex, easy to narrow the field
  • Assumptions a part of risk, qualification and validation other tools
  • Need to have / get to a “plan” which integrates all of these things and parts
  • Hierarchy of vision, strategy, plan, then into concrete and applied schedule and or budget (resources and constraints)
  • “Energy capital” another resources like time and money
  • Tradeoffs are traded off until you have a vision and mission

James

  • Strategy is a reflection of the mission first
  • Strategy is overarching and big but “strategies” may be many, those are more tactics
  • Scope, time and resources greatly affect home much risk you take on and what your strategy is going to be
  • Relationships between, cost, time and quality

Steve

  • Risk really critical in strategy. Differences between levels of risk in sizes and stages of organizations.
  • Risk tolerance, risk aversion and “risking” or “taking risks”
  • Being too conservative not a good strategy
  • Balancing riskiness and conservatism
  • Need to test and validate your ideas (part of the strategy)
  • There always is a leap of faith (the unknown)
  • Risk assessment is a phase and some people, given the probability, people would decide differently based on their risk profile
  • “Reality testing” is how this is considered in psychology

General

  • Strategies at some point need to get chopped up / decomposed / broken up / broken down so they can be delegated, managed, measured and acted upon.
  • “Reality testing” (assumptions, risks, ideas, etc.) is a big skill required to survive and thrive in business.
  • “A plan” is a milestone that happens after the initial stuff of vision and values and all that. A plan becomes very concrete and tangible with steps and the like. Below a plan is the constrained resources and budgets of time, money, physical and mental energy and capacity.
  • What can we do to maximize the resource of energy (both physical and mental) for our projects?
  • The best strategy is chosen through decisions among tradeoffs.
  • Constrained resources between cost, time and quality plan into strategic thinking.
  • Risk tolerance plays into strategic decisions a great deal.
  • There is a subjectively optimal level of risk taking between too much and not enough.

IF YOU’RE GOING TO FAIL, FAIL FAST?

Eric

  • Risk-averse strategies (fail slow)
  • There are strategies that are random and/or fun that speckle in entertainment factors
  • Need to add random, interesting aspects to your brand
  • EfficiTrends and InefficiTrends: thinking in opposites and being creative, unique
  • Are there strategy ‘facilitators’ that are good at getting these ‘think opposite’ things done?
  • Don’t want to think ‘too far out of the box’
  • Your ideas are your students: some will be successful, others will not
  • Diversified portfolio
  • “Volume” (it’s a numbers game) and “Volume” be out and proud about your ideas as yourself
  • Is there a limitation of mindset and pivot? (Not everyone can mentally do a 180)
  • People have blinders of reality

James

  • Maslow’s hierarchy related to businesses?
  • Counterintuitive
  • Carnegie says he failed 49% of the time

Steve

  • If you avoid too much risk, then you live a life where you don’t do anything
  • Humans built to weather stress and take risks
  • People do many things that don’t relate to survival
  • Anomalies
  • A good consultant matches where people are at and tries to expand their client’s world from where they are at, not where you are at (depends on your audience)
  • “Success is somewhat random”
  • Failure is subjective and maybe not “real”
  • People lacking the confidence to start
  • Gotta be willing to fail enough to find the right partner
  • “There are the seeds of success and the seeds of disaster and they go together”
  • “[Vision is] like a genetic program”

Christian

  • “Calculated risk” vs. a foolish guess or test
  • Resiliency a huge part of success (getting back onto your feet)

General

  • Is there a Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs for businesses and other organizations?
  • There are fail fast and fail slow strategies. For some dangerous domains, like driving cars, you might want to fail slow.
  • Resiliency and getting back on your feet and trying again is the key to success.
  • “People do many things that don’t relate to survival.” ~ Steven Kubacki, PhD
  • “Success if somewhat random.” ~ Steven Kubacki, PhD
  • “There are the seeds of success and the seeds of disaster. And they go together.” ~ Steven Kubacki, PhD
  • “Vision is like a genetic program.” ~ Steven Kubacki, PhD
  • There are “random”, creative and out of the box strategies that come from a place of creativity.
  • Many people lack the confidence to even start. If you have started, keep going. You are ahead of many others.
  • Thinking in opposites is a good way to come up with creatives ideas and strategies.
  • There is probably an entire toolkit that some people have and can leverage who can help people think creatively from where they are at. These are called consultants but the best, probably shamanistic ones, can really blow people’s minds and change course for them dramatically.
  • There are limits and edges to strategy: you can think way too far out of the box. And you can think far too narrowly.
  • Think of your business ideas as if they were your students: some will do well, and others may not. Appreciate that some may do well.
  • It’s important to have a diversified (but not too diversified) activity and business portfolio.
  • Volume, both in amount and noise, matter a very great deal in business strategy and execution.

 


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