There are several examples of the ages of man.
The one that I got from an American friend is learning, earning and burning.
You spend your early years learning, your main years earning and your latter years burning the wealth you generated.
I kinda prefer learning, earning and moaning.
Anyways, why mention this?
Because I did a lot of learning of management techniques back in the 1980s and 1990s, and these are so ingrained in my brain today that I use them intrinsically without thinking about their use.
So I was asked to keynote last week on strategy at a management conference.
I had my standard bank strategy presentation in the box ready to go.
It would talk about the future of banking, the rise of mobile, the use of social networks and the internet of things.
The stuff I blog about as a ‘Subject Matter Expert’.
But the organiser looked at my slide deck and said that this is not why they asked me there.
They wanted my strategic insights into management and strategy, not a view of the future of banking.
“Oh!” methought. “But I don’t talk about that stuff, I just do it.”
Then I realised that I was speaking at a conference surrounded by consultants, advisors and inspirational speakers, rather than subject matter experts and realised my mistake.
This is when you get the presentation jitters: “ah, I’ve got to deliver a whole new presentation on management techniques in 12 hours and have no slides or thoughts”.
I guess I was lucky that I did that learning in the 1990s, which qualifies me for my earning years as a commercial strategist.
Yes, that’s what I do: I try to create strategies to generate increased revenues, profits, margins and opportunity in the near-term through envisioning the future of commerce in the medium- to long- term.
And so 12 hours later, I presented my views on how to create a killer strategy and communicate it.
Here’s the slide deck:
I’m not saying it’s the best ever, and the words may help that went with this, but the gist is:
- To create a strategic direction for the firm you need to analyse the forces of change externally that will change your business landscape – Political, Economic, Social and Technological – along with the general competitive landscape
- Once you have that direction, you then need to create a strategic plan that covers the usual financial metrics but, as business is three-dimensional covering money (finances), people (staff) and customers, you need a three-dimensional plan that also covers money, people and customers; then
- As you roll out that strategic plan internally, create razor sharp communication to customers based upon short value propositions supported by credibility, capability and value (or benefits) statements.
I realised after producing this slide deck that the basics of my own management approach have changed little in the past two decades: happy staff make happy customers make happy business.
The whole point is to ensure that you inspire the people in your business – staff and customers – to deliver the financial results.
Unfortunately, too many businesses purely focus upon the financial numbers: the ROI, the cost-income ratio, the remuneration and rewards of staff and the shareholder returns.
These are the easy things to measure and manage, because they’re numbers.
But these are only delivered if you have good people who are motivated and customers who are engaged.
These are the hard things to measure and manage, because it’s human.
That is why I developed a three-dimensional strategic planning tool twenty years ago that tries to bring holistic strategic planning around staff, customers and financial results (happy people make happy customer make happy business).
Simple really, but too often forgotten or wrong, as firms focus upon the one-dimension that purely counts for them: the quarterly results.
Ah well, back to business.
Oh, and the three ages of man are not learning, earning and burning. They are Why?, Why Not? and Because ...