Posts in Strategy Execution

How “My Fitness Pal” Applies to Business

October 31st, 2018 Posted by Blog Post, Business Plan, Strategic Planning, Strategy Execution, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “How “My Fitness Pal” Applies to Business”

The popular app “My Fitness Pal” has about 20 million subscribers.

You start using it by describing a little about yourself. Nothing too detailed. Just some basics like height, age, weight, etc. Next, you define some goals that aren’t limited to reaching and maintaining an ideal weight.

That’s part of it. But to lay out a fitness plan, you have to set some specific short-term objectives in a number of categories that include activity, nutritional balance, hydration and calories.

There is a psychology involved

When you use the app regularly, you pay closer attention to your behavior. When you pay attention to your behavior, you begin to adjust accordingly.

The short-term objectives become almost like competitive challenges. Meeting or exceeding them becomes motivation to keep at it. Next thing you know, you can see and feel results.

If you stop using it, however, chances are good you will slip right back into the behaviors that led you to sign up for the app in the first place. Stick with it and you find yourself meeting or exceeding longer term objectives and goals.

That all makes sense, right? Right.

Apply the same principles to business

My Fitness Pal is effectively a Strategy Execution Management (SEM) tool that is focused on fitness. Plan Canvas is an SEM tool that is focused on business. But they are otherwise, conceptually, the same.

For example, when developing business strategy and plans, you start by describing your business, much like you described yourself when you begin using My Fitness Pal. You don’t have to get too detailed. Just talk about things like how the business is structured, where it operates, what its target markets are, and what products/services it provides.

Next, you begin envisioning the future and setting some goals and objectives. Just as My Fitness Pal is not all about weight, plans you develop in Plan Canvas are not all about financials. There are other things to consider, such as social responsibility, employees, and customers.

This is all good stuff when it comes to planning. But just like with My Fitness Pal, goals and objectives don’t complete themselves. You have to complete them. And just like logging your regular accomplishments in My Fitness Pal, you track and log your actual business results in Plan Canvas – all for the same reasons. Observation, adjustment, and motivation. When you do this on a regular basis, poor habits begin to fade away as more productive habits take hold.

Get started!

Subscribe to the Plan Canvas Software for just $15/month

So why don’t we do it?

Why doesn’t everyone use My Fitness Pal and why doesn’t everyone who downloads it stick with it? Frankly, pizza tastes good and the couch is pretty comfortable. It’s just too easy not to. Some may not even know how to.

The same is true of business strategy planning and execution.

But the sobering reality is that a lack of formal planning – simplified and actionable plans – is a leading cause of business failures.

Not enough reality? How’s this. Half of all startups cease to exist within 5 years. Formal planning and execution practices (as we’ve defined it) doubles the odds of success. Still not enough? How’s this. Those who have made it beyond startup phase fair, on average, 33% better than their peers and competitors when formal planning and execution practices are in place.

Finally, even though you use My Fitness Pal, sometimes you still need a fitness trainer to help keep you focused. Similarly, in business, sometimes you need a consultant to help keep you focused.

Think of Plan Canvas as your “My Fitness Pal” tool for your business. It’s just a tool. You have to use it to get results. If you’re disciplined enough to use it on your own, great! If not, we have you covered.

Contact us for a demo or to discuss consulting options.

Plan for Success – Focus on Execution

August 1st, 2018 Posted by Blog Post, Strategy Execution 0 thoughts on “Plan for Success – Focus on Execution”

Success doesn’t just happen. You have to make it. But first, you have to define what it is.

A note from Jon Umstead:

Plan Canvas is great for startups but it was built with the operations/organization leader in mind – that was the perspective I was coming from when Business is ART was written, and the book subsequently became the impetus for the Plan Canvas software.

Prior to writing the book, my career revolved largely around project planning and management, business planning and management, strategic planning and management, and operational/organizational leadership. In almost every role, it was about planning for success and focusing on execution.

Not one or the other – both!

Plans are worthless. Planning is everything.

I learned very quickly what Dwight D. Eisenhower meant when he said, “Plans are worthless. Planning is everything.”

You can’t just get out there and start executing without a plan if you want to have any measure of success. There are exceptions. You might get lucky. Odds are you won’t.

You can’t devise a plan, set it aside, and start executing like the planning process never happened. That is only slightly better than not planning at all. It’s like buying 10 lottery tickets instead of 1. You increased your odds a little bit, but they are still really bad.

Likewise, you can’t execute to the plan so rigidly that you ignore reality. That is a recipe for disaster – perhaps worse than having no plan at all. Change happens constantly. You and your plans have to change right along with it.

Begin with the end in mind

Planning isn’t just a means to get a loan or attract investors. It’s a method of defining what success means to you and your new business. Beginning with the end in mind. From there, you walk backwards to develop a plan that will get you to your destination.

The plan itself is a best-case scenario given your present understanding of the circumstances and assessment of the risks involved.

“If all goes according to plan, victory is ours!”

But you know without a doubt you missed something, underestimated something, or that you will get blindsided by something that is outside of your control. It’s going to happen. Things won’t go according to plan.

But because you had a plan in the first place, you are aware of alternate routes. You can respond without panicking.

Act tactically – think strategically – get going

And, most importantly, you can act tactically while thinking strategically. You deal in the heat of the moment while keeping your eye on the prize – your definition of success.

Plan Canvas has an all new user interface and a completely redesigned dashboard to show you where you are in the planning process AND how you are executing.

For information and to get started, click on the statement that defines you best:

I am an operations / organization leader.

I am a small business owner.

I am a startup entrepreneur.

I am a freelancer.

I am a church or non-profit.

 

The (Mythical) Steps to Successful Strategy Execution

April 24th, 2018 Posted by Blog Post, Strategy Execution 0 thoughts on “The (Mythical) Steps to Successful Strategy Execution”

As a Strategy Execution Management (SEM) software and consulting business, the very topic of strategy execution is naturally near and dear to our hearts.

The big question that always hangs in the mist is “How do I get better strategy execution results?”

An article at Entrepreneur entitled “4 Steps to Successful Execution of a Strategy” lists the following keys to success:

  1. Set clear priorities
  2. Collect and analyze data
  3. Keep a rhythm to meetings
  4. Evaluate a strategy

No question. These are smart things to do. In fact we would add a few more such as, but not limited to:

  1. Paint the picture – vision, mission, purpose, goals
  2. Remain flexible

But they aren’t linear steps

We often use the acronym ART (articulate, revise, track). Plan Canvas is based on the ART method defined in the book Business is ART. All of the above “steps” fit neatly into this method as follows:

A – Paint the picture, set clear priorities, keep a rhythm to meetings, evaluate the strategy

R – Remain flexible, evaluate the strategy, set clear priorities, keep a rhythm to meetings

T – Collect and analyze data, keep a rhythm to meetings

But when we say “steps” we imply linear action – one foot in front of the other. In reality, it just doesn’t work that way. Note that some of the items occur in more than one category. For example, “evaluate the strategy” is both in the “A” and the “R” category.

Business (and life) is like a chessboard in which even the pieces you haven’t purposefully moved are, none-the-less, constantly in motion. There is no linear approach to managing such a chessboard – which may be one reason strategy execution success rates are so low…

Too often we apply linear thinking to non-linear realities.

However, the answer is not to ignore linear thinking because that just adds chaos to the non-linear reality. Our suggestion is to use linear thinking as a guideline, but remain flexible enough to shift priorities and change direction as needed – completing each “step” as it make sense to do so.

There are a couple of keys to this

There are a couple of keys to making sure you can do this. First, you have to be able to see the whole chessboard, all of the moving pieces, all of the places they could move, all at once. This is one of the critical reasons for painting the picture. But simply painting it isn’t enough. It has to be constantly on display for stakeholders to see and for you, yourself, to constantly study and refer back to.

In our opinion, the most critical key is to have a company culture that understands the painted picture, is on board with it, and is open to change/flexibility.

An article at Inc. entitled “The Truth About Strategy Execution” provides an excellent example as follows:

“At Salesforce.com, for example, every employee, including managers and senior executives, is required to share his or her goals and the weekly progress toward them with the entire company. Everyone’s performance is out in the limelight, no one can hide. The company’s success is well known, and Salesforce also consistently ranks as one of the most desirable places to work. Employees feel that the company’s unique culture pushes them to deliver their best work. Operational excellence is a boon to employee satisfaction and happiness.”

We put it this way. There is no separation between employee engagement and strategy execution. Strategy must address employee engagement and without employee engagement, strategy execution is much more difficult if not impossible.

That’s why we say the “steps” are mythical

The steps included in this post are important and necessary. But they aren’t linear. Further, in and of themselves, the steps are not a guarantee of success. The true key is as stated above.

That’s why Plan Canvas is different from other tools available. With it you first paint the picture. But unlike classic planning tools, that’s just the beginning. Next and continuously thereafter, you manage the plan.

That plan goes well beyond sales and financials, additionally focusing on company cultural and employee engagement concerns such as the employees themselves, the clients/customers, corporate social responsibility, and operational excellence.

In other words, with Plan Canvas you focus on the entire chessboard, all of its moving pieces, all of the places they can move, all of the time.

Contact us to schedule a demonstration.

One of These Attitudes Will Get You Far

April 17th, 2018 Posted by Behavior, Blog Post, Strategy Execution 0 thoughts on “One of These Attitudes Will Get You Far”

The majority of this post is an excerpt from our soon-to-be released white paper entitled “Strategy Execution Improvement Requires Institutional Change.”

Before getting to it, we would like to add an editorial note to say the title perhaps should be expanded to include, “And it requires individual change as well.”

During a recent demonstration of Plan Canvas, an entrepreneur commented that seeing a list of past due items in a dashboard and receiving an email indicating the item is coming due or is past due would “discourage the user” to the point of inactivity.

If that is really true, perhaps it is no wonder so many businesses and strategies fail.

The ironic thing about it is that the software isn’t telling you what to do…it’s reminding you of what you, yourself, said you’d do, or that you assigned someone else to do it. If you don’t need subtle reminders, you probably don’t need Plan Canvas (or any other tool).

But if you can’t keep it all straight in your head, or through round table discussions over coffee and diet soda, you just might benefit from Plan Canvas.

White paper excerpt

A vast majority of strategic initiatives fail. The obvious reason to be concerned with this is the resulting, tremendous, amount of waste – wasted time, money, effort, energy, and emotion.

The less obvious reason is the immeasurable lost opportunity, taking the form of missed potential to gain momentum, survive and thrive, versus the real potential for loss of market share and extinction of the business.

Saying that we need to do a better job of implementing successful strategies is comparable to saying we need to do a better job at diet and exercise. We know it is good for us, but find doing it difficult and unappealing.

For many of us, it is only after years of unhealthy eating and lack of exercise have negatively impacted our lives that we decide to make a change. At that point, “why” becomes, literally, painfully obvious. Unfortunately, it is often too late to reverse the impacts that could have been avoided in the first place.

The same is true of business and enterprise strategy. An institutional change is in order. Key to that is understanding and acknowledging why it is important, then acting on it before the negative impacts occur.

There are numerous reasons to focus on improving strategic outcomes, but all are a matter of momentum, surviving, and thriving.

Included herein are three critical business success factors, each representing an example of why improved strategy execution is essential:

  1. Cost Optimization
  2. Digitization, Digitalization and Digital Business Transformation
  3. Employee and Customer Engagement

Check your attitudes

The white paper goes on to explain these 3 examples in more detail, why they are each important, and how building them in to your culture or strategy is vital, before further discussing how to improve strategy outcomes.

For an advance copy of the white paper in its entirety, please contact us.

But whatever you do, consider this – there are 2 ways to look at it when viewing a list of things you have yet to accomplish:

  1. Be proud of what you’ve done so far and use that pride as motivation to keep tackling the list.
  2. Be discouraged by the list itself, fold tent and retreat.

One of these two attitudes will get you far. The other, not so much.

Plan Canvas is a community and a powerful software for improving your odds of business success and personal fulfillment.

© SeaSeven LLC 2017.
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