Blue Ocean? Red Ocean?
If you haven't read the book, you owe it to yourself to read Blue Ocean Strategy especially at this time of year. Buy yourself a Christmas present and download it on your iPad. It's an easy, but very thought provoking read, and you easily can polish it off during the week between the holidays. It begs the question of the degree of change that you might want to undertake over the longer term and whether you want to consider swimming in the relatively open deep blue (and healthy) ocean or in the constrained, oxygen-starved (and highly competitive) red?
One of the more interesting questions it poses right up front in the book is about the circus industry and whether you want to consider continuing to try to manage increasing expenses and decreasing prices as Barnum & Bailey or change the entire platform and expand rapidly as Cirque de Soleil?
As you're finalizing your 2011 business plan for its January approval at your upcoming board meeting, you might want to consider how you potentially bring substantial change to the business, and maybe to the marketplace, by being the innovator in the industry over the next two to three years.
Shake Up the Organization
Let's assume first that you have really great managers. Does it make sense to move one of your regional managers into the head of your inside sales organization? What about shifting your inventory control manager to run purchasing? Or what about having your marketing manager take on the role of sales operations, or better yet, become a district or regional manager for a year or two? Nothing works better in Marketing than to have real salespeople involved in the tactical decision making process.
First, a move or two like this shakes things up a bit. Second, if explained within the context of building communication and developing cross functional skills, it builds a much stronger organization. And who knows, the manager who was a good solid "B", may become a hard driving "A" in the new position. This is exactly what happened in one of our companies earlier this year where we shifted the head of sales to become the head of marketing and then promoted a regional manager to become the head of sales. We never missed a beat as sales increased based on an entirely new approach to the business's marketing direction and tactics.
Want to really shake things up? Change a board member or two especially if their seniority is more than five years.
Shift Your Customer Mix
Certainly your customer focus is going to remain pretty much the same as it has been this past year. My expectation is that there's not going to be any wholesale change. Having said that, I would ask, as you're going through your annual planning process, what do you want your customer profile to look like at the end of 2012, just 24 months from now? Do you need to think about exploring a new market this coming year? Do you want to add an SMB size to the targeted prospects at a lower price point? Just maybe, you jump into the healthcare sector which is undergoing massive change fueled by an equal amount of massive money and new technologies?
Customer change and shifts take time. Since your center of the bulls-eye is going to remain the same in the short term, what do the rings around the center look like at the end of 2011? The end of 2012?
Remember, as you're thinking through these questions of your own customer shift, your customers are thinking through the same questions, and you need to make sure that you intimately understand where they're headed. More on this next month.
Just a few thoughts to kick around as you're tidying up your 2011 business, sales and marketing plans. No question in my mind that you'll do a good job-just as you normally do. The question I want you and the rest of your team to answer is just how much change you're going to bring into the company during 2011?
Have a warm and wonderful Christmas and holidays.
Good Selling for the last 14 selling days of the year!