Tuesday, May 24, 2022

How can you leverage relentlessly focusing on your specific customer to successfully navigate turbulence?

 5 Actionable Takeaways

Take 60 seconds to answer one or more of the following questions -- we also highly encourage you to try this with colleagues and/or loved ones! 
  1. How can you leverage relentlessly focusing on your specific customer to successfully navigate turbulence?
    The biggest decision every organization makes is deciding who its specific customer is. I’m a big believer in owning a niche, not only to survive, but to be relevant and credible with your customers. When market trends shift, the economy throws you surprises, and you feel pressure to react, it will challenge the essence of what you’re all about and what you believe. During these times, your north star should always be your specific customer, and how you can serve them better.
     
  2. How can you swim with the current while staying committed to your key principles?
    One of the quotes I came to love as we as a business were navigating the disruption over the last few years was from Thomas Jefferson. When it comes to matters of style, swim with the current. When it comes to matters of principle, stand like a rock. As leaders, we have to discern between trends and principles on behalf of our company. Those are hard decisions, because you need to move with the market, but if you only do that you’re just going to blend into the background with all your competitors. To be distinctive, you have to own your own principles and your point of view. 
     
  3. How can you utilize a one-page strategy to kickstart a business after a slump?
    In the beginning of our turnaround at Brooks, it was so important for us to gain trust from everybody: employees, leadership, investors, and banks. To do this, we created a one-page strategy that clearly represented the business model and customer we thought would take us into a profitable future. When designing a strategy, you must ask yourself first, what blank space are you filling, and then, how do you make money at that? If you think about it as a grid, you’ve got competitive strategy from a customer marketplace standpoint, then profitability and asset intensity, then people and execution, and finally, culture across the top. Those elements make up your one-page strategy.
     
  4. How can you design a better medium and long-term strategy to guide your organization? 
    As a leader and a steward of an enterprise, I think about the business and design our strategy around three horizons. Horizon one is from now through the next three years. Horizon two is five years out. Horizon three is a ten-year vision. Great businesses do all three of these horizons well. We must challenge ourselves to try to see around the corner near, medium, and long-term corners. 

    Each spring at Brooks Running, we update our three-year strategy to chart the future of the company. This looks like a 15-page summary of our priorities for the next three years. Our teams use this as a basis to drive their activities–everything is linked, aligned, and integrated with the 3-year plan. To design it, we begin with our exec team of five, then expand to a larger senior team, and finally to our even larger team of directors. In the process, each layer of the organization builds their three-year plans and budgets. It has been a transformative tool for alignment for us. 
     
  5. How can you better supplement your financial metrics with customer success metrics?
    At Brooks Running, we review financial metrics equally and simultaneously with customer success metrics when we rate our performance. We report our full financial results, quarterly and monthly, but we additionally gather everything we can on customer metrics–from Net Promoter Score, to market share, to unit growth. I believe the financial results come from customer success. If you’re trying to win short-term, medium-term, and long-term, customer metric focus and financial focus go hand in hand.

Monday, May 23, 2022

The Ultimate Freedom

 Do what others are doing but just a little bit different. There's always a gripe that somebody has with a business or idea so make a twist on that to differentiate yourself and earn their business and eventually many others. 

Learn from this quote of the day about the ultimate freedom:

"Quality of life is having the freedom to make choices that are not fear based. Whether it’s the ability to choose the kinds of projects I want to take on and can learn from, or the ability to take a month off to travel. Freedom to choose is the ultimate luxury."

Friday, May 13, 2022

Matt Damon is Just like Leonardo DiCaprio Saving Lives With Clean Water Interview

 Beri Maric the CEO of the Ivy taught me today that Matt Damon is very similar to Leonardo DiCaprio not because they're both fantastic actors but because they care deeply about the environment, social causes, and improving the world on a global scale. Matt is involved in clean water to save lives. The most crazy fact is the one of over a million children dying a year from preventable causes as you will read about below in the diarrhea section. 

The talking points from the interview are below: 


  1. What is the Scale of the Global Water Crisis?
    Water insecurity is defined as the lack of easy access to sufficiently clean and safe water for basic human needs. We’ve known how to make water safe in the United States for more than a hundred years, and still, 771 million people across the world don’t have this access. Imagine if we cured cancer and in a hundred years, people were still dying of cancer in certain parts of the world. That’s where we are with water. 

    A million children under the age of five die every year for completely preventable reasons, like diarrhea. In the United States that would maybe keep a child out of school for one day. Additionally, dehydration can literally be a death sentence in some parts of the world. These are not things that should be killing children, but they are. There are very real numbers, but what can not be measured is the potential that’s lost in somebody’s life.

    There is a further, crucial inequity embedded in the problem of water insecurity. Lack of access to clean water disproportionately affects women. Many girls aren’t in school because they spend their whole day trying to find water for their families. This precludes countless women from living up to their full potential. Our mission is to ensure that everyone on earth has access to clean water and sanitation, and we envision that happening in our lifetime
     
  2. How Business and Finance Can Resolve the Global Water Crisis
    If we really zoom out, it would cost $1 trillion to solve this problem, and not solving it costs an estimated $300bn per year. The solution requires investments in infrastructure, sanitation, and pipes that carry water to people’s homes and carry the waste away. Some of the poorest people on earth pay 10 to 15 times more for water than the middle class. They’re either paying a vendor for water, or they’re paying with their time by standing in a line at a public water place or walking around trying to find it. The time people waste every day walking to collect water when they could be working in a paying job, the needless deaths, needless illnesses, girls being out of school, and the lost economic potential–all of these are what we call coping costs, and these costs add up to about 300 billion a year. 

    By providing microloans for water solutions, you can buy somebody’s time back and make the system more efficient. Initially, microfinance institutions were really reluctant to do that because they didn’t see that as an income-generating loan. However, when you buy somebody’s time back, you are making so many other things much more efficient. When they get a loan, and they get a water connection, put in a pump or water filter, that really allows them to be liberated and move on to that next rung of the economic ladder, using the time that they save at a paying job and having more sustainable food for themselves. Girls get an education. So far, we’ve done almost 10 million loans that have reached 43 million people this way. 99% of these loans pay back. 

    With the amount of money it would take to solve the water crisis ($1 trillion), there’s no way we’re going to solve it with just charity. We’ve got to bring the capital markets to bear. We’ve got to do it in a fair and equitable way for everybody in the system, particularly poor women who live in need of water and sanitation. When we create that financial plumbing that connects someone who wants an attractive financial return in the capital markets with someone making a few dollars a day, everybody has value created, and you take out the friction that you might see in traditional philanthropy. Viewing this crisis as a business problem instead of a philanthropic one opens the door to so many possibilities and creates a much more reliable solution, one that doesn’t rely upon the kindness of strangers. 
     
  3. What are the Most Critical Obstacles, and How Can we Help?
    Almost 10 years ago, all of our microfinance partners were reporting back that their biggest bottleneck was access to affordable capital. Subsequently, that capital was not getting to the infrastructure providers. The demand for providing this kind of capital was absolutely there. We were convinced that there were many people out there who done very well in life, and wanted some kind of return in the market, but also wanted their money to do good in the world. 

    That’s the purpose behind WaterEquity. We enable our corporate partners to invest using their treasury function, where they can earn returns while also playing a key part is solving the global water crisis. That flywheel of impact allows us to create an even more sustainable model, where the management fees that we get as an asset manager get pumped back into the work of our charity to scale up to maximize the good we do. With our next fund, we will be managing about $200 million in assets. We’re focused on securing more capital from investors and investing it in infrastructure, so when people come with their microloans to connect to the utility, there are pipes in the ground.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Unlocking Strategic Innovation by Reimagining Design By Kevin Bethune

 

  1. How can you better balance short-term and long-term thinking?
    Change is the only thing that’s guaranteed. Business leaders need to reflect on how much they think about the future versus the present. The best organizations have mindsets with a 50/50 split: 50% of decisions are focused on the short-term, 50% are focused on the future. The short term is the here and now, the imperative to deliver, to be mindful. The long-term is always looking to the future, always collecting inspirations, always filling your corporation’s walls with observations of what’s happening with your stakeholders, and industry. Consider reflecting on your current ratio of short term vs. long-term thinking, decide what that ratio should actually be, and then make the necessary adjustments to ensure you have the right balance. 

  2. How can you clarify your growth goals to help crystallize your strategy?
    Businesses care deeply about growth, but they have to also understand and contextualize what type of growth they desire. Any time your organization is looking at an avenue for growth, you need to reflect on the type of growth that you’re after, and how to help the organization navigate the associated ambiguity and uncertainties. Do we need to be hyper respectful of the core business that we’ve already created and ensure that we’re fixing broken things by re-engineering the existing structure? Do we need to extend the benefits of the existing structure through re-imagining how certain customer journeys and outcomes manifest? Or, do we need to start to think about disrupting ourselves before the marketplace does, by thinking about ways to create new growth avenues that could maybe replace the core business at some point down the road. Most importantly, are we being proactive enough to discuss and formulate those new constructs?

  3. How can you encourage more multidisciplinary thinking in your teams? 
    Multidisciplinary collaboration is the currency that will inform the future innovation, especially as we’re faced with more complicated challenges, such as the acceleration of computation, artificial intelligence, and technology. Multidisciplinary teams allow us to see the future through a multitude of different vantage points. We can dissect stakeholder value criteria. We can challenge “industry first” principles, and question foundational beliefs that may be holding us back. Multidisciplinary teams also enable us to bring in all kinds of inspirational fodder to the conversation, and curate diverse trends that can inform our most important decisions. Organizations must prioritize collaboration in a way that allows teams to develop their own natural, creative sparks and connections.

  4. How can you unlock the power of play more within your business?
    Play, creativity, and willingness to fail is imperative for today’s business owners. Have the creative courage to take a step forward, experiment, workshop, and rewire your organization to create a little bit more capacity for strategic innovation conversations. Invite more voices around the table, not just design. Look at the team makeup and ensure that you’re championing diversity, equity, inclusion. Consider taking creative, optimistic actions that you might have avoided in previous circumstances, and see what comes about.

 
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