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What Did You Unlearn Today?
A regional private college frequently runs radio ads featuring stories of their graduates and their accomplishments and likes to close with the provocative question: “What did you learn today?”

Naturally most people go to school, attend conferences and read all kinds of information so that they can learn more and better themselves professionally which has become necessary in today’s rapidly changing, information-oriented world. But we think it's equally important question to think about another question: What did you unlearn today?
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3 Reasons Your Strategy May Not Be Working

Does your business have a strategy that doesn’t seem to be working and producing the desired results?  There are many reasons this can happen and here are a few we have encountered: 

1. It’s the wrong strategy.  Many times we’ve seen someone come up with an idea that sounds good but is either ill-conceived or ill-timed with the market.  Here are a few quick examples: 
  • Providing more of the same in an already crowded market.  A financial institution was disappointed the consumers were not attracted to their latest products and services.  Once they realized and admitted this hard truth they were able to start figuring out what they could do to really stand out and differentiate their business.
  • Trying to compete in a way you can’t win.  A manufacturing company learned they could no longer compete on price with China on the commodity items they had made for years and instead now focus on producing more complex products that their customers need quickly.
  • Launching a new product or service before it’s ready for prime time.  This may sound like President Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act but it also happens too often in business.  One company had a great idea to add a new product that they knew customers wanted.  However, they overpromised and undelivered causing many customers to go elsewhere and ended up abandoning the new venture before it hurt their overall reputation.

What to do:  It can be tough to admit your strategy is wrong but it’s far better to be honest with yourself and others and own up to the mistake rather than keep on pretending or make excuses why it’s not working while losing money and risking your reputation.  Cut your losses now and redeploy your valuable resources on those strategies that are working for you and go back to the drawing board.  

2. People don’t get it.  Poor communication and a lack of understanding make it difficult for those who must execute a new strategy to get it right.  It may be a brilliant strategy but if key staff are uninformed or don’t clearly understand the implementation, it can stall quickly and end up frustrating staff and hurting business. 

What to do:  Make sure you involve those who you will count on to implement the strategy early on in the process.  When possible, invite them to help you design the rollout and estimate the time and resources that will be needed to support the strategy. 

3. Poor alignment. Everyone knows what happens when you try to drive a car that’s out of alignment (the ride is bumpy, the tires wear unevenly and it can be annoying or even dangerous).  But what happens when you try to run a business that is out of alignment?  A business may have a good strategy but if there is poor alignment between the strategy and people, budgets and other resources it can compromise the strategy and also cause great wear and tear. 

What to do:  You can’t always avoid a bumpy road but you can first check to make sure you have proper alignment and dedicated sufficient resources for successful execution.

 
Are You Busy?
Everyone seems busier these days. Some boast about it and some complain but it's getting harder to find a person who isn't attached to a pager or a cell phone or busy checking their voice mail or e-mail or "away from my desk right now..." in some meeting. One wonders when the frenetic pace will ease or if being busy -- as an individual or a business -- is now the minimum standard for just keeping up if not getting ahead.

Perhaps when we talk with a colleague, team, or an entire organization we should not be asking "Are you busy?" but rather "What are you working on?" and "Why are you working on it?"
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What's wrong with "getting everyone on the same page?"

Many executives and business leaders today say they want a strategic plan to ensure that everyone is “on the same page.” In other words, they want to be sure that their boards, executives, and staff clearly understand the organization’s purpose, direction and goals. This may sound good but what if you do get everyone on the same page only to realize later that the group is using the wrong playbook or perhaps singing the wrong tune?

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Click Here: Moving to a Self-Service Society
Businesses across many industries today are moving more toward a self-service business model where their customers serve themselves. This trend is not new (e.g. consider vending machines and self-serve gas stations) but in just the past few years self-service has become much more common and accepted, if not expected, by consumers.

Much of this trend can be attributed to rising business costs, the deployment of technology and the consumer’s demand for choice. Consumer self-service reduces operating costs, increases convenience, and gives consumers more control over when they shop, how they shop and what they purchase.
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