‘Uncategorized’ Category

Where Have you Gone – General Clausewitz?

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

Like the refrain from the Simon and Garfunkel song, General Clausewitz has “left and gone away.” As the great philosopher of war, the retired Prussian general, Karl von Clausewitz wrote On War in 1832, outlining the strategic principles behind all successful wars. Warfare is based upon two immutable characteristics: strategy and tactics. And while the nature of war has changed considerably, Clausewitz’ ideas are still as relevant today.

It is interesting to note that Clausewitz saw the linkage to business, “War belongs to the province of business competition, which is also a conflict of human interests and activities.” While the classic definition of marketing leads to a focus on customer wants and needs, this approach to marketing strategy by itself is insufficient if a dozen other competing firms are already serving the same customer wants. A more successful strategy must also include being competitor-oriented.

Competitor strategy many times becomes a market research and competitive intelligence effort providing facts and figures on market share, new product launches, product and sales force assessments, management appointments, mergers and acquisitions. From this, creeping incrementalism, or being just a little bit better in the Red Ocean seems to be the normal approach to company business strategy and tactics.

The marketing plan, however, needs to go well beyond this to dissect each marketplace participant. It should also include a plan to defend against competitive strengths, the tactics and style of operation their competitors and key marketing people can be expected to employ. Better market intelligence is needed on how to anticipate competitive moves.

Marketing executives need to be prepared to wage marketing warfare, as generals do with military campaigns. Strategic planning is a critical element as companies define strategies and tactics to attack and flank their competition, defend their positions and decide when and how to wage guerilla warfare.

Finally, successful marketing leaders need to exhibit many of the same virtues that make a great military general – courage, loyalty and perseverance.

Clausewitz stated, “Some statesmen and generals try to avoid the decisive battle. History has destroyed this illusion.” While marketing does involve satisfying customer needs and wants, the true nature of marketing involves conflict between corporations. Business competition is a war, where failure leads to loss of market position, stature and profits.

In war, the competition is the enemy and the objective is to win the battle. You win by outwitting, outflanking and overpowering the enemy. Winning in business requires no less resolve and the mindset of a field general.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

© Rich Kohler 2017. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Lost Touch – Being Connected

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

I always found Andy Rooney’s (CBS 60 minutes) comments interesting. He liked to point out that despite their best efforts, people would end up with the opposite of what they were trying to achieve. Like the terms government intelligence – we don’t seem to have any, or tax-free benefits – so why do we need to pay taxes to get them. We seem to have the same problem in our Web 2.0 connected world.

It seems odd that with all the communication and information technology at our fingertips, living in a 24/7 world, we have become estranged from the very people who are essential to our success. It reminds me of the book, Women are from Venus, Men from Mars. Not sure I can solve that problem, but I think I can shed some light on us getting truly connected.

The popularity of social networks (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, My Space, etc.) points out the desire to connect, to be heard and to get an appropriate response.

  • Voters made their voice heard in the last election to a congress and administration that had gone astray.
  • Customers vote with their dollars and quickly move away from companies with inconsistent brand image, who lose touch with poor design, quality and service.
  • Employees no longer desire management, but require leadership and connection. It is said that employees don’t quit companies, they quit their bosses. Too often they work to survive, yet we were made to thrive.

When executives lose focus on their customers (reason they are in business) and connection to their employees (the strength and vitality of their business) they have lost their way and begin the inevitable decline into mediocrity. While man has developed technology, unimaginable to people even a generation ago, it is still the need for close interaction and connection that satisfies the deepest need – “you are important to me.”

There is a lesson to be learned as to why small business and entrepreneurs foster innovation and create jobs while big business struggles in this regard. It begins with connection – to an unmet need, focus on delighting the customer, a bond with their employees that they are making a difference.

Connection – the old fashioned way.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

© Rich Kohler 2017. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Being Invisible

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

What do structural engineers, anesthesiologists, fact-checkers, and interpreters have in common? When they do their jobs poorly, the consequences can be catastrophic. But when they do their jobs perfectly…They’re invisible.

“In fact, Invisibles are found in all walks of life. What binds them is their approach—deriving satisfaction from the value of their work, not the volume of their praise.” – David Zweig

Invisibles are almost counter-culture: performing anonymous work in an age of constant self-promotion.

In the book “The Invisibles”, Zweig takes us into the behind-the-scenes worlds that Invisibles inhabit. He interviews top experts in unusual fields to reveal the quiet workers behind public successes. Combining in-depth profiles with insights from psychology, sociology, and business, Zweig uncovers how these hidden professionals reap deep fulfillment by relishing the challenges their work presents. It is reminiscent of the study of introverts in the workplace, “Work that is purposeful and mission-based fits naturally within an introvert’s professional toolkit.”

For a lot of us, the better we perform the more attention we receive. Yet for many “Invisibles” –  skilled professionals whose role is critical to whatever enterprise they’re a part of – it’s the opposite: the better they do their jobs the more they disappear. In fact, often, it’s only when something goes wrong that they are noticed at all – think the anesthesiologist, instrument technician, and structural engineer.

Millions of these Invisibles are hidden in every industry. You may be one yourself. Surely you know of a few. And despite our culture’s increasing celebration of fame in our era of superstar CEOs and assorted varieties of “genius” – they’re fine with remaining anonymous. Zweig’s criteria for the “invisibles” are threefold: ambivalence toward recognition, meticulousness, and the savoring of responsibility. The people he writes about — a fascinating and varied bunch — are those who measure success not by celebrity or financial return, but by the quality of the work they do. And it’s a persuasive argument that they are happier, more fulfilled human beings as a result. Fame, as Zweig demonstrates, is a hollow, fickle thing. Money can also be a much overrated as a source of happiness.

The reality, as many professionals who tend to fall more on the silent end of the spectrum can attest to, is that many of the best workers—be they at the top of the pyramid or somewhere in the middle—go about their business, achieving great results without fanfare. And while it may feel as though the whole world is beguiled by those who make the most noise in conference rooms and boardrooms, it’s encouraging and, critically, worth noting that that’s not actually the case.

Zweig reveals that “Invisibles” have a lot to teach the rest of society about satisfaction and achievement. What has been lost amid the noise of self-promotion today is that not everyone can, or should, or even wants to be in the spotlight. The book reminds us that recognition isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and invisibility can be viewed as a mark of honor and a source of a truly rich life.

In closing, perhaps you have a few people around you who are Invisibles. People who, though they don’t pursue recognition, would be thrilled to have someone notice them and give them a little praise. It is a little thing – but then the little things make life worth living.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Begin here to accelerate your success: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2016. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Does Everybody Know Your Name?

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

“Generational names are the handiwork of popular culture. Some are drawn from a historic event; others from rapid social or demographic change; others from a big turn in the calendar.

The Greatest Generation (those born before 1928) “saved the world” when it was young. It’s the generation that fought and won World War II.
The Silent generation describes adults born from 1928 through 1945. Children of the Great Depression and World War II. Their “Silent” label refers to their conformist and civic instincts.
The Baby Boomer label is drawn from the great spike in fertility that began in 1946, right after the end of World War II, and ended almost as abruptly in 1964, around the time the birth control pill went on the market.
Generation X covers people born from 1965 through 1980. The label long ago overtook the first name affixed to this generation: the Baby Bust. Xers are often depicted as savvy, entrepreneurial loners.
The Millennial generation falls into the third category. The label refers those born after 1980 – the first generation to come of age in the new millennium.

Generational names are works in progress, and labels that once seemed spot-on fall out of fashion. But add to those over-arching definitions some further delineation:

Employees who behave like an entrepreneur within the confines of their existing role. They provide surprising or unexpected value to their companies in a way that capitalizes on new business opportunities. Often responsible for product innovation, Intrapreneurs are an emerging segment of the workforce that aren’t afraid of stepping up to the plate and taking charge. While some companies might see this as a practice that doesn’t fit their culture or organizational structure, others believe in the value it brings to engaging employees and ultimately, retaining them. Intrapreneurs are risk takers who aren’t afraid to take chances and shake things up within an organization. Management needs to take a top-level approach at fostering an environment in which these workers can thrive, or risk losing them to more agile companies.

Data Analytic
Often seen as introverts, the office analytic sees figures, stats and data as an essential element to any project or task – a perfect fit for today’s data-centric and interested corporate world. They are forceful users and believers in the value of data-backed evidence. These workers are the office advocates who ensure your company references its data footprint to make proper and smarter decisions regarding future spending, technology or strategy.

On-the-Go Mobile Pro
Nearly 30 percent of employees work from multiple locations with multiple apps and devices. Rarely seen at the office, but when they are spotted, it’s with a mobile device glued to their hand. With digital labor a reality, meaning companies need to adapt, adopt and invest in the right tools and technologies to support their needs of an ever-growing mobile staff. These tools should include the infrastructure and workflow processes that allow these digital workers to access, share, and transform the data that they, and their coworkers, rely on to stay connected and get the job done.

You might take a look around your workplace and see if you can come up with a few more.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Start here to gain that competitive edge: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

5 Reasons You Should Have a Business Partner

Monday, November 24th, 2014

As in life, business is easier (and more fun) when you are doing it with someone else. Success in business is a team effort, not flying solo. Finding a business partner could be just the thing you need to boost your success.

Here are 5 reasons why:

1. Make yourself take action. Having two of you will force you both to take action and provide accountability for getting things done. Having to explain to someone with a vested interest just why you haven’t done the things you said you would can be just the impetus needed to get you motivated.

2. Fill your skills gap & be good at everything. If you are like 90% of ideas people, you need to be forced to take action. If you are great at execution, you may not have a focused idea to work on. Find a business partner who has complementary skills to yours and you fill in the skills gap that each of you has alone. There are lots of examples of these sorts of successful partnerships such Paul Allen & Bill Gates at Microsoft.

3. Create synergy. Two brains are better than one. You will have better ideas, create better products and execute better with two of you working on the business. You will create a bigger pie than is possible by yourself.

4. Expand your networks. Putting your networks together will give you far more reach and contacts than you can access alone.

5. It’s more fun. It’s more enjoyable and rewarding working with others. And we need to make it as enjoyable as we can to boost our persistence.

But, I don’t want to find a business partner, I hear you say…

Two of the most common objections to having a business partner are:
a. What if we don’t get along?
b. I don’t want to give any equity away.
If you really don’t want to take on a partner, then you shouldn’t. But realize that it will limit the growth your business can achieve.

If you are open to thinking about it, I would like to offer a few pointers:
• Make sure you can work together before you formalize your business relationship. When you first have an idea is not the time to offer 50% of the company to someone else.
• Start working together to evaluate the idea, but don’t create a legal agreement or other structure until you know you have value in the business and are clear on what each person is bringing to the table. Then make sure to create an agreement which is fair to all parties and which covers all eventualities you can think of.

If you can’t trust the person you are working with to go through this process with you, then you are working with the wrong partner.

In terms of giving up equity, consider that it’s better to have a partial share of a real business that is growing and delivering value to customers, than 100% of an idea going nowhere.

There are lots of horror stories, but all start-ups that have made it big, have a team – you can’t get funding without one and you can’t grow beyond a certain size as a solo effort. So think hard about whether you need to find a business partner to move your idea forward.

Final thoughts:
• What are you lacking to move your business forward? Skills, Ideas? Contacts?
• Would having a partner fill some of those gaps? What skills and qualities would they need to have to be complementary to you?
• Who do you know who might be your perfect match in business?
• What would your strategy be for getting her or him on board? How will you do your due diligence to make sure it is a positive relationship for both of you?

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Serious about growth? Check out the complimentary assessment: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2014. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.