How To Attract & Retain Talented People

How To Attract & Retain Talented People

I think most business owners would agree that one of the biggest challenges they face today is how to attract and retain the very best people. What if I told you that it’s possible to have a strong employer brand that not only attracts and retains talent but also engages and motivates them. In this video, I will share with you what you must do in order to create a strong employer brand that DOES actually retain and engage talent.

Hi! This Is Jody Ann Johnson with ActionCOACH – Team Sage, where we help small business owners and their teams make more money, keep more of the money they make and free up their time so they can focus on the things that are most important to them. If you’re new here and you’re looking for best practices on how to grow your business then please subscribe to my channel and click the bell so you don’t miss a thing!

As I mentioned earlier, one of the biggest challenges is attracting and retaining top talent. It used to be that employees would come marketing themselves to you. Now, employers have to market themselves to employees in order to attract that talent. As a business owner, you must have a people strategy and a brand strategy that will attract them – and that’s not just for big companies. It’s actually for every company. Just a few years ago, Gallup said that approximately 78 percent of employees are disengaged and actively disengaged. Well, the report that came out just this month says that number is up to 85 percent. So there are tons of people that are actively disengaged. And there’s another probably 65 percent of that 85 percent that are just passively engaged in their jobs. Globally, trillions of dollars are lost in disengaged employees. Here in the U.S. – trillions of dollars. In our local market, millions, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, even a thousand dollars – who can afford to lose that kind of money? None of us.

So how can we attract the very best talent? The answer to that question? By defining your brand strategy and your people strategy. It’s more than just your core values or your communications strategy within the company. It’s actually a lived experience and it’s one that we have to create as business owners BY DESIGN. Your team must experience what you say your brand stands for. People spend about 50 percent of their time at the workplace. So they’re very familiar with whether or not there’s congruence in what you say and what you do. There’s really no place to hide. Either you’re living it day-in and day-out and they know it…or you’re not. Every single thing about your company matters. Everything about what happens in your business matters. From the way they read the ad to their experience of being invited to an interview to whether or not they got a job description, that their core values were shared, their onboarding process, that they’re clear about what it is that they’re going to do in that role, the training and development pathway, your workflow process all the way up to how you invoice, collect and deliver on your customer service every day. ALL OF THAT is your brand promise.

And for the most part, because we’re so busy, we just go about doing what we have to do day-in and day-out and we’re not thinking necessarily about the experience. If we consider our employees and the people that we want to attract to our team as customers, we would be much more closely managing their experience and everything that happens in their interactions with us. Conscious employee branding is an absolute must and it’s experiential. The founder of Action COACH said that the most important thing a business owner does is actually to be the guardian of the culture. You could say that is another expression for your brand. That is one of the single most important things for you to manage. It drives everything in your business. So what is your brand strategy and your people strategy?

OK, so that’s it for today. I would love to hear what your brand strategy and your people strategy is. What’s working? What’s not working? Please share your thoughts, your insights and your questions with me. Thank you very much for watching this video. And before you leave please subscribe to the channel and be sure to click the bell so you don’t miss a thing!


Out of the Weeds: Leslie V. Marenco, Esq. of Trust Counsel

Leslie’s Story…

Shortly after I met Leslie Marenco, she decided to dissolve her law firm and start Trust Counsel. Leslie, a Miami estate and trust attorney, knew she needed a total realignment of every aspect of her new firm, Trust Counsel, and asked ActionCOACH Business Coaching Team Sage to help facilitate this process. She expressed frustration over problems on every front – the workflow, the people on her team and the systems she had in place. Things weren’t working as well as she needed them to in order to operate a successful firm and Leslie knew the firm couldn’t continue on as it was.

Getting Back on Track

We knew what we had to address to help Leslie’s firm get back on track. We cleaned house, got the right people on board, put specific systems and procedures in place and got the workflow straightened out. We nailed down precise job descriptions so Leslie could focus on her job and not feel obligated to take on her teammates’ responsibilities. Through all of our efforts, we built a strong foundation and made Trust Counsel viable.

Her Experience

When we asked Leslie what she would say to someone who is considering business coaching, she responded:

I’m a huge believer in business coaching. As a business owner, you only know your limited experience. You need someone to show you other ways to see your business and to help you succeed beyond what you know. Otherwise, you’ll create the same things over and over again. I believe in business coaching because it worked for me.

Win-Win Scenario

After working with Leslie at Trust Counsel, she shared with us that our coaching helped her gain more focus. She’s no longer staying at the office until midnight and, with the big picture in mind, she’s keeping on track:

You need someone to help you get out of the weeds and that’s what the coach does.

Are you finding yourself stuck in the office till all hours of the night? If you’re ready to get out of the weeds and start enjoying life and the business you created, we can help. Call us today to schedule an exploratory call, 305-285-9264 x302!


How To Do Market Intelligence In Recruitment

How to do Market Intelligence in Recruitment

I think you would agree that most business leaders say they’re somewhat at a loss for how to get started in recruitment today. What if I told you that there’s a lot you can do in market intelligence on recruitment that can greatly improve your chances of success. In this video I will share with you the three things that I share with my business owners when they’re starting their recruitment process that help to improve their outcomes.

Hi everybody! This is Jody Ann Johnson of ActionCOACH – Team Sage, where we work with small business owners and their teams to help them make more money, keep more of the money they make, be more profitable and free up their time. If you’re new here and you’re looking for best practices on how to grow your business please subscribe to the channel and be sure you click the bell so you don’t miss anything!

I’m going to illustrate this concept through a business owner we’ll call Kathy – a busy, successful business owner who’s expanding and needs to add people to her team to support that growth. So what does Kathy do? She does what most business owners do. She writes an ad, posts it online and hopes to attract maybe 2 or 3 great candidates so she can choose. Then what happens? Well, what happens most typically with her and other business owners is that her inbox gets flooded with hundreds of unqualified candidates that she or someone on her team has to sift through to try and find one or two people qualified enough to come in for an interview.

Then she invites them in for an interview. And if they show up at all she finds that it was a big waste of time, gets discouraged and thinks, “there’s just no good talent out there.” Gallup says that 85 percent of employees are disengaged and actively disengaged in the workplace. Of the 15 to 20 percent that are actively disengaged, they may or may not be on the job boards. But most people are not on the job boards. She considers hiring a recruiter and paying those expensive fees because she doesn’t know what else to do. I don’t know about you but most of the business owners that I work with haven’t actually budgeted for a recruiter’s fee that typically is somewhere between 15 and 30 percent. And that 15 to 30 percent for the recruiter comes straight out of the profits. So it’s really a last resort. Now, what you can do is a whole lot of market research and intelligence before you go to that recruiter. You may end up having to go to the recruiter because there are certain positions that are just really hard to fill right now. But before you do, let me share with you the three things that I talk with my business owners about putting in place before they have to take that route.

First of all, we use a portal to manage all of the applications that come in. The one that I use is Hiring Steps. They have a portal that, when they send out the job ad to the different directories and online repositories such as LinkedIn or Indeed, all of those applications come back to their portal. They have keywords and an algorithm that allow them to scan those applications for relevant matches. They have an audio where I can record questions, introduce myself to the applicants and then get their responses and listen to them before I ever meet them or invite them for an interview. This greatly reduces the flood in the inbox. It greatly reduces the number of applications I have to sift through because I’m only looking at my top matches and I can get a sense of who they are by the way they answer the questions, the tone of their voice and the kinds of things that they say before I ever go to the next stage of inviting them for an interview.

Number two: I make sure that they clearly define the skills that are needed, the job responsibilities and duties and what the attributes are of the kind of person who’s going to be successful in that role. Before they ever go to a place like Hiring Steps or place an ad, we get crystal clear on the kind of person they need in that position, how they’re going to be evaluated, what they’re going to be doing and we make sure they’re crystal clear on the job description because it’s all been laid out. We also do research on compensation and benefits and what’s appropriate for that type of role in our marketplace.

Lastly, we leverage your time by setting up a group interview. In the group interview, people have gone through a number of selection/deselection processes to actually be invited. If they show up – and sometimes they don’t – then they’ve already gone through a screening that’s going to allow you to get a sense of who they are. Evaluating them side by side also lets you know how they are under pressure. Are they great with other people? Do they pay attention when others are talking? Do they answer the questions that you’ve asked? This goes a really long way toward you knowing the kind of people they are as well as knowing their skill sets.

At the end of the day, if you’re still having trouble getting talent you may end up having to go to a recruiter. Make sure you get one that has a great guarantee. Some companies will have a very short guarantee and they won’t replace people after three months. Others that I’ve worked with actually will have great guarantees where not only will they replace them but even if you transfer that person to another role in your company they’ll give you a reduced rate on replacing them. So there is a wide range and we love working with ones that are really committed to the business owner and will back their guarantees.

Okay, that does it for today. So are you prepared in advance for effective recruitment? If you put in all of these things that we just talked about you will go a long way toward being ready and the more you’re ready the better your outcome will be. If you have questions, comments on this topic or any suggestions for me please leave them below. Thank you very much for watching this video.

And before you leave, please subscribe to the channel and remember to click the bell so you don’t miss anything!


Turning the Ship Around: Eric’s Outboard

Eric & Kelly’s Story

Here at our ActionCOACH Business Coaching Firm, Team Sage, we firmly believe that having the right systems in place can move your business from a place of surviving to a place of thriving. Our work with Eric’s Outboard, a certified Yamaha engines, parts and service company here in Miami, demonstrates this belief quite well. When I met Kelly and Eric of Eric’s Outboard, their part sales had plummeted from the year before, when their sales manager took their client database and opened up a location nearby. Sales were down by almost a million in parts sales. To make matters worse, they didn’t have a firm grasp on their inventory.

First Step: Assessing Their Sales

When Team Sage came onto the scene, obviously we had to stop the bleeding and started by assessing the “part sales” side of their business. First, we profiled the sales team members with a sales skills index. Then we helped the team set monthly sales goals and began tracking their progress towards their goals. We coupled this with a redesigned sales compensation package and helped each member of the team determine how to reverse engineer what sales they needed in order to reach the compensation level they wanted to reach. We nailed down the profit margin on their products and determined how much in discounts the sales team was extending to their customers. Our approach led to quite a successful outcome. Eric’s Outboard recovered those lost sales within 15 months and have grown overall sales by 54% in 3 years!

Second Step: Tackling Inventory Issues

Once the sales side was gaining momentum, we started tackling the inventory issues. We hired an experienced inventory manager who helped determine inventory par levels based on sales history. This allowed the company to make wiser purchases and take advantage of manufacturer incentives. The barcode system we installed removed the need to manually count inventory every year – a process that previously required closing the business for a week and resulted in lost sales. This was a time-consuming and costly process for a single inventory count that was used one time by the accounting department to adjust inventory levels on the balance sheet. Today, there is a dynamic, real-time inventory count at Eric’s Outboard where they maintain up-to-date inventory numbers for increased accuracy and consequently, profitability.

Third Step: Success

There are countless more stories where this one came from! If you see yourself and your business in this story we would love to connect with you to explore how we can work with you to increase the efficiency and profitability of your business. Visit our website today and sign up for a complimentary strategic coaching session. We’d love to hear from you! We succeed when we help your business succeed.

Did you like this story? If so, you might also enjoy this recent blog on managing business growth! Check it out here!



It’s Never Too Early to Start Planning for 2019!

You’ve probably heard the line from a famous Chinese proverb, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” If you’re overwhelmed by the idea of creating a strategic plan for your business, take heart – and take that first step – by answering some important questions. Begin your journey to creating a comprehensive strategic plan that will set you up for a successful 2019. Rather than labor over your answers, I invite you instead to focus on answering the questions honestly. Remember, this is just a launching point. You can explore these questions more in-depth down the road!

  • Where is my business currently at?

This isn’t the same as “Where do I wish my business was at?” Optimism aside, what does your bottom line tell you? Are you getting the ROI you want? How do outsiders view your business? What kind of feedback do you receive from your clients? Give an accurate assessment.

  • What are my goals for the coming year? For the future?

There are no right or wrong answers here. Just make sure these are goals that you’re excited about working towards. Consider both short-term and long-term goals.

  • Who are my key players?

These are the people who can help you achieve the goals you stated above. They might be your investors, management team, employees or clients.

Or perhaps bringing a few new employees on board is the best next step towards achieving these goals.

  • What worked well for my business this past year?

This includes clients that were great to work with, products or services that were a hit, successful marketing strategies and anything else that helped propel the success of your business.

  • What efforts this past year didn’t pan out the way I hoped?

Face it. Some ideas sound great initially and you dedicate a substantial amount of your resources to nurturing these ideas only for them to fall flat. Often disastrously so. It happens. Start by acknowledging your business failures and get back on the horse!

  • How am I going to do things differently this next year?

Make lemonade out of lemons by taking the lessons you learned this past year and applying them to your business practices this coming year. This may mean implementing new policies, firing unreasonable clients, exploring new marketing channels or shifting your target market altogether.

  • How committed am I to making necessary changes to propel my business forward?

You might have the best strategic plan in the world. However, if you’re not excited about it or motivated by it, you won’t have the moxie to see it through. Start small – even a few little changes can shift the trajectory of your business and create the momentum you need.

Need help with your business plan for 2019? Schedule a call with us to find out how we can help you get ready to rock 2019 and have your best year yet!


The Queen With Blinders On

I recently watched “The Queen” a movie starring Helen Miren as Queen Elizabeth and Michael Sheen as Prime Minister Tony Blair during the eight days following the death of Princes Diana on August 31st in 1997.

What really fascinated me about this movie was the way the in which the Queen seemed to be at the effect of protocol “the way things are done around here” and the power her environment had on her thinking, decision making and timeliness in dealing with the reality of the circumstances surrounding and following Diana’s death.

You may recall that the monarchy was severely criticized for a perceived lack of sympathy regarding Princess Diana’s death and seeming insensitivity to the outpouring of love by a nation deep in mourning along with people from around the world heartbroken for the loss of “Peoples’ Princess.”

There were several causes for their upset, other than Prince Charles flying to Paris to pick up Diana’s body, the flag at Buckingham Palace wasn’t flown at half-mast, until the funeral and then only as a response to public outrage. There was an earie silence from the Queen as the papers beseeched her to “show us you care” lasting for six days till just before Diana’s funeral, and for staying holed up in her vacation home in Balmoral in an aloof and business as usual way.

In the film, subsequent articles and interviews the “rules” of “how things are done around here” began clashing with the moment by moment worsening public relations nightmare due to the overwhelming mourning pouring out from around the world. In the seven days between the People’s Princess’s death and her burial the reality of what was happening on the streets and in the news eventually dissolved the rigid rules that had guided the monarchy for centuries.

However, it was only when Prime Minister Tony Blair intervened that Queen Elizabeth came back to London and acknowledged the grieving that had been so extravagantly displayed by the British people and her fans from around the world by visiting the sea of flowers placed at Buckingham Palace and to make a public address.

There are some interesting parallels in business from this great little film and the stories from that week. Most notably in my opinion recoiling from the people into a private sheltering of her grandchildren and while that is understandable, on one level a simple statement at the time of Princess Diana’s death would have honored both her grandchildren, the British people and those fans from around the world. Declining to do that created a PR nightmare for the Monarchy.

Regardless of the way things have been done for centuries and the opinions of those around her, she remained disconnected albeit understandably, from the impact of her lack of response until it was almost entirely too late.

In business when we ‘ve got our heads buried in the plans we’ve made, or in the grind of what has to get done in the moment we sometimes lack the foresight and the vision to be who and what is needed in the moment. Especially in times of crisis. And while we’re all human beings there are certain responsibilities that go with leadership that include being able to see circumstances for what they are, like it or not, to respond quickly and effectively and for the consequential impact of our choices on ourselves, the business, our team members, and everyone associated with our business.

As business leaders we must respond quickly to the reality of the situation we’re in and look, listen and feel our way to a wise and appropriate response to crisis we find ourselves in. While it’s important to listen to others it’s also important to recognize opinions as opinions and rules as guidelines, may very well cost us an opportunity to be effective and to make a difference. The role Prime Minster Tony Blair played with just a couple months in office, in advising the Queen and addressing the public’s grief cannot be underestimated. This is the role a great mentor, advisor and coach has during times when there is so much at stake.

I watched the public address the Queen eventually made and in the end was satisfied with her statement, clear appropriate and respectful, everything you’d expect from a leader of her stature.

While we’ll never know the thoughts that were going through the Queen’s mind at the time, I’m clear it was a difficult at best situation to find oneself in and I do wish she’d been willing to be who was needed and wanted not just with her grandchildren, but also with her nation and those people from around the world who related to Diana as the People’s Princess.

How prepared are you for a crisis taking place in your business?


Why Is Business Planning So Important?

Have you ever wondered why is it that people are always talking about doing a plan. What good is it. How does this really help me in my business. It’s just time away. In this video I’m going to show you how to make successful plans. How to have your plan actually be something that takes you and your business to the next level.

So the concept that I want to talk to you about today is really taking a step wise approach to planning and it all begins with dreaming.

What?!? Dreaming?!? Are you sure?

Yes! Dreaming. Dreaming is being out there looking at what does your ideal life look like ten plus years from now. What would your ideal life be like. What is it that you want. What is your ideal business. How would you be spending your days. This is key to knowing and key to being able to create a plan that truly has you doing what you want to do. This is one of the biggest keys, if you don’t know what it is that you want to do – where you’re going – then any road will get to there. But, it’s probably not what you really wanted. Right?

For example, if I wanted to go on a trip but I didn’t know where I wanted to end up and I just got in the car and drove… Where am I going to go.

I need a map. I need a destination. I need to know where is it that I’m trying to get to. And this is the dreams.

I personally say start with dreams for your life and only after you have dreams for your life. Then look at what the business I would need. What do I need to be doing. Where do I need to be getting my income, my revenue, my resources from so that I can have that life.

The next most important thing that we have to look at is looking at our goals.

And when I talk about goals here I’m talking about 5 3 1 year goals. These are the goals that we have out there that we want to get to near term. Remember a dream is a goal without a plan.

Goals start to have a plan.

So now we’re starting to get a little bit more close where we’re starting to really look at what is it that I want in more the near term. However there is a bit of an issue with goals when we talk about 5 3 and 1 year goals. You need to have them and I keep saying 5 3 and 1 year goals because it’s critical that you actually do it that way. You start out at 5 years out then you bring it back to three years out standing in that 5 years out. This is what I have. You look back and say this is where I was at three years that made it a done deal that I was going to be able to get here. Then you stand there at three years look back at one year and say this is where I had to be. This is where I was that made it a done deal that I was going to get here.

Why do it that way? Because human beings regularly – this is part of who we are – overestimate what we can do in the short term and underestimate what we can do in the long term. This is one of the key reasons why most people have trouble with planning because they try to just look right here right close to me and go. This is what I need to do. But they’ve overestimated what they can get done. Just think about your daily schedule. How often do you fill your daily schedule with more than you can get done in a day. Because we overestimate what we can do in the long term in the short term by going out as far as we can really consciously create.

Five years three years and create that as big as we possibly can really just explode it. Then work our way back.

Typically what’s going to happen is when you get back to 1 year you’re going to look at that you’re going to go.

I can do that in six months. Awesome! Go back out ten years. Five years. Make it bigger.
And go through the process again until you have goals that are really you look at that one year goal and go “Yeah. That’s a little scary.”

Now we’re good.

Now, we have to take into account learning. And, this is another one of those huge keys that gets missed in planning. We don’t plan for what we need to learn.

We don’t plan for what are the key things that we have to be able to get to know. We have to learn because we don’t know everything that there is for us to do. We have no clue.

All of the things that we have to do to be able to make sure that we accomplish our plan.

Unless you’re only planning for things you already know how to do that that’s kind of boring isn’t it.
Why would you create a plan for something you already know how to do. Put it on your to do list Get it done.

Or as someone I know is says “Get’er Done!” A goal is something we don’t know how to do. Or at least we’re not quite sure.

So we have to put in the plan learning. Then we take that plan and we pull it back down to one quarter. And a great way to do this is take your year and again work it backwards.

Stand in one year out and say Where did I need to be three months prior to that. Where was I three months prior to that, that made it a done deal that I was going to get here. Then stand there and look back say OK two months out I mean six months out. Where was what did I do.

Where did I accomplish. Then down to nine months prior to that year.

Do the same thing again.

Now you have a very nice goal for 90 days. And, we like to work with 90 days. Two reasons. One is it works very well with business quarters. Right. That’s typically what we do is work on a quarter.
So it works very well with our business quarter’s.

However, it’s also one of the keys to making sure that you can get it done because our brains, we have a hard time focusing on something for more than 90 days. And physically it’s hard to get things done in less than 90 days. So 90 days works out to be a very nice range.

All right so now we have our dreams our goals the learning that we need to do.

We have a 90 day goal and now we have to take it down to weekly actions. What are you going to do each week to accomplish that goal.

Follow this and you will have a plan that not only will you follow but you will want to do it because it addresses the things that are most important to you.

I’m Doug Barra and I thank you for joining me.

If you enjoyed this video and you got value from it please like us please go on Facebook like us on Facebook like us on Youtube. Subscribe to our e-mail list. Enjoy this. Thank you.


A 5 Point Checklist to Generating Leads Online

Business Marketing Training - MarketRICH

Small business experts will tell you that generating leads online is critical for success in today’s business world. People are doing more and more business online. If you are ignoring that potential source of leads, your business is not going to grow and thrive.

Checklist for generating leads online

You can use this five-point checklist to get started or to refine your current process.

  1. Give great value. Almost everyone on the planet loves to get value for their money. Value is getting something more than a low price. Value can come in the form of useful information and tips, additional features, faster delivery, reduced fees, free customization, etc. Your prospects must see that the value you are providing them that makes you superior to the competition.
  2. Focus on what your prospective customer wants. You may have a billion ideas for new products or services. But, if your ideal customer doesn’t want any of them, they are all useless. Know your ideal customer intimately. Get to know their pain points, their desires, their commitments. Use those for ideas on what products and services your leads want.
  3. Be the expert your prospects can rely on. People want to buy from people they can trust. Positioning yourself as an expert in your field helps build the trust of people looking for your product or service. You can gain the expert position by offering helpful tips, knowledgeable advice, and key industry information that would be of interest to your ideal customer.
  4. Provide multiple levels of involvement. Do you interact with the people in your life in only one way? You probably see them face-to-face, talk on the phone, exchange emails, and follow them on social media. Your customers want this multi-level form of involvement from you as a business. It helps build trust and makes it easier for them to become a customer.
  5. Interact with your prospects. Remember communication is a two-way street. Your potential customers want to interact with you, even online. This can take a ton of forms, including interacting on social media, personal email communication, personalized marketing material, and webinars. Interaction builds trust and gets people to become leads.

If you implement each item on this list, you will start seeing well-qualified leads coming from your online efforts. And small business experts will tell you that you have a great start on taking your company to the next level.

How do you go about generating leads online?


3 Creative Ways to Generate New Leads

Are you looking for new and creative ways to generate leads for your business? Sometimes you need to get creative to jumpstart your lead generation process. Adding just a bit of creativity can expand your audience and attract plenty of attention to what your company has to offer.

Let’s Get Creative

Here are three creative ways you can generate new leads:

  1. Host a special event. This can be as simple as an after work wine and cheese party. It can be as complicated as a full-blown formal black-tie event, complete with orchestral trio and a sit-down dinner. You invite your existing customers and ask them to bring a friend who might be interested in what your company has to offer. It is a nice way to reward your existing customers while introducing yourself to some new prospects.
  2. Develop strategic alliances. What products or services mesh well with your business? These are companies who are not in competition with you, and complement your offerings. Think about creating alliances where you cross-promote each other’s business. For example, bankers might refer business clients to the accounting firm down the street. An accountant might refer clients to a personal financial adviser. A real estate agent might refer a general contractor or home builder.
  3. Join (or create) a networking group. Local networking groups are great places to get your company known. You can meet people face-to-face and let them learn a bit about what your company does. You may not get direct business from those you meet in the networking group. However, if you educate the people you meet about what you do, they will start referring people to you. You should reciprocate and do the same for them.

Each of these will help you generate high-quality leads. It all begins with knowing what you do well and finding a creative way to showcase it to prospective clients and those who may refer you.

What is the most creative way you have for generating new leads?



What Is Strategic Planning?

What is strategic planning? I think you’ll agree that most people are confused about what strategic planning is, but what if I told you there’s no such thing as strategic planning?

In this video I’m going to share with you what Peter Drucker, the famous management consultant, and Sun Tzu, the author of Thirty-Six Stratagems, have to say about planning and strategy. Stay tuned.

Hi, my name is Jody Ann Johnson from ActionCOACH Team Sage, where we help small business owners grow their company, make more money, free up their time and to have choice of the opportunities they want to take advantage of.

Let me start off with uncollapsing strategic planning. From strategy, which is thinking, and planning, which is implementing and executing. I’m going to share with some of the research that I found as I was preparing for this video, from Peter Drucker on strategic planning. It says here: “it’s remarkable how the same lessons need to be rediscovered again and again.” Sun Tzu dealt with the confusion between a warrior’s adaptive strategy and dealing with competing people, and long term planning in dealing with objects; we’re still dealing with it today. In Peter Drucker’s Management Tasks and Responsibilities, he found the same problem and confusion around management, that they had for planning of objects and planning for people. He listed four misconceptions arising from this term strategic planning. Strategic planning is not a tool box of tactics or tricks. It’s not a bundle of techniques. Strategic planning is not forecasting. Strategic planning is not dealing with future decisions. And strategic planning is not an attempt to eliminate risk.

I think that last one is really important because as a society with things changing as fast as they are, people tend to get smaller, to constrain, to try to avoid risk, when what’s really being asked for today is an opening up, an expansion and a wider berth of awareness about our position and what’s going on around us. So we look to mitigate risk, and where we can, we probably want to do that, but not as an overall strategy for business growth.

Drucker describes strategy from a warrior’s perspective as the analytical thinking and commitment of resources to action. He describes attempts at predicting the future as foolish, because it’s of little use to people who seek to innovate and change the way people live and work. He sees strategy in terms of the decisions we make today about a future that is inherently uncertain. This is the realm of unpredictable people, not predictable objects. As I studied this, I was really fascinated because the way we were raised in school and in most of our environments was in a linear way, very much consistent with the Industrial Revolution, where there were assembly lines, and whatever happened over here was necessary for what happened here and what it was going to happen over there, but it was linear and predictable. So over here you knew what these people or this machine was doing on that side, and what to expect when it got to you. In today’s world we’re less dealing with objects, unless you’re involved in manufacturing where you’re going to take a material and turn it into something else, and more in the realm of people, and people are inherently unpredictable.

As a matter of fact we may think that we know our own selves and what motivates us, and how we’re going to react to the situation, and what that reaction is going to produce over there with others. And the truth of the matter is: not only do we not know how they’re going to respond, we don’t even know how we’re going to respond. So it’s going to take a different way of thinking about strategy and planning.

When you’re looking at strategy as it relates to people, we want to look for what are the natural inherent ways that people respond. You’ve heard of fight and flight; this is common. Yet, I can’t tell you how many times when somebody has come across aggressively with their employees or with a client or in the marketplace with a competitor and expecting them not to resist not to either shut down or run away. And of course that’s what people do. They shut down or they are gone even if they’re physically still there, they’re not mentally still there. And if it’s with a competitor, many times they’re going to come back and it’s going to launch a full on attack. So getting clear if we are dealing with people here, or are we dealing with an inanimate object, in which case planning for the production of something makes perfect sense.

The purpose of strategy is not to eliminate risk, but in Drucker’s words is to take the right risks. “Innovation at its core is an act of discovery, in which we embrace the uncertainty of the environment and explore it for opportunities.” I don’t think I can say this any better than he did, which is why I’m quoting it for you.

I’m listening to the audiobook of whiplash right now, and I’m on my second listen of it and bought the book, because it actually is challenging, the long held belief systems and what I think is possible and what is going on out in the world, on so many levels that it’s almost impossible to take in. So I’m on my second listen, because I have to turn it on, listen for a few moments, stop it and think – how does this apply to me? How does this apply to my business? How does this apply to my clients? And it’s staggering in its scope, so I highly recommend this book. And yet at the same time, Peter Drucker back in the 70s was quoting Sun Tzu in his Art of War in the Thirty-Six Stratagems, which are ancient; 2,000 and 3,000 year old stratagems about how to be competitive when it comes to the people side, and not necessarily the planning where we do productive planning, that linear logical process, which is important in its place, but less uncollapsed from planning necessarily when it comes to people, because people are inherently unpredictable, including us.

“The strategic planning is the continuous process of making present entrepreneurial (risk-taking) decisions systematically and with the greatest knowledge of their future, organizing systematically the efforts needed to carry out these decisions; and measuring the results of these decisions against the expectations through organized systematic feedback.” In other words, it’s the science of making good decisions about the future. Drucker was somebody who didn’t believe that we can plan for the future. He said: we have to plan our actions for the now, consistent with the direction that we’re heading. Which is why he always started off with: what is your businesses mission and vision? What’s the purpose of your business, where are you headed? Because that is the guiding navigating tool that you use. If it’s thinking and planning about a future decision, then it’s not really relevant, and it’s more like a dream. What we’re looking at is what are the actions that need to happen right here, right now, in order to take us in the direction in which we’re committed to going.

Sun Sir talked about knowing your position and awareness of your position in the marketplace. Competition is necessary in business because whenever you’re putting forth your products or your services, people have to compare you against somebody else, that is the nature of competition. Your ability to understand how to differentiate yourself in that way, from your competition, can be the strategy related to your marketing, or to your pricing, or to your product innovation and so on. That’s the world of strategy. The planning part is: this is what we want to get done. How are we going to do it? What are the feasible opportunities for making that happen? What are the resources that are going to be required? And then allocating those resources to the path that you’ve chosen. I think it’s very important that we’re aware that we’re going back and rediscovering again and again the foundational pieces of what works, rooted in ancient theory, about how we can be ever more effective with our strategic thinking and with our implementation and execution planning.

In your business and in your life you’re always adapting to dynamic situations. So I want to refrain from planning out, prescribe this and this, and actually looking at the direction that we’re headed, and making the planning process. It’s important to be organized and to coordinate efforts between people in shorter periods of time, like your quarterly planning, or even your monthly planning, so that it can be nimble and agile. And we should be able and free to adapt to opportunities that come our way, because many times we are in a conversation with somebody and all of a sudden a new opportunity arises that wasn’t in your plan at the beginning of the year, but that may be very consistent with his strategic direction you want to take your company, and that we’re able to respond to that rather than just prescribe: we’re going to do this and then we’re going to do this – sometimes that’s how people can get about their planning.

So the direction that you’re taking the business and where you’re headed, the fundamentals that must be in place, the clarity around who’s doing what by when, the clarity around what resources are available to us, and the nimbleness to be able to pivot when an opportunity comes our way, that we’re able and free to seize it.

To wrap up: the world is outside of our control. In our constantly changing environments, our most valuable resource is the ability to take quick and decisive action. The world is constantly creating unique situations, which require responses. Many of those situations are opportunities that look like problems because we didn’t plan for them. So in your planning, make sure that you have this world of the direction that you’re heading and the actions that are going to be consistent with that, and the flexibility of being able to take advantage of opportunities as they come your way.

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