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by Larry Pendergrass, Principal

Tenet #9: Balance the stakeholders.

In my opinion, if you wish to build a company for the long term, you must balance the stakeholders; I like the term maximizing stakeholder value. I see 5 stakeholders: your shareholders, your customers, your employees, your suppliers and the society in which you do business. Any one of these can shut down your business, and any one of them can make a powerful partner to create a long term differentiated and defensible business.

In this blog, I discuss the ninth of my Ten Tenets of Strategy. These tenets were gained through years of personal experience and discussions with key thought leaders and are offered as guidance for the development of your strategy.

  1. Your core competency is not your strategy.
  2. Compete on core capabilities, your set of business processes integrated throughout your value chain.
  3. Make hard choices. Decide what you will not do.
  4. Focus on customer outcomes. Design your strategy through the customers’ eyes.
  5. Analyze and design for the industry forces.
  6. Understand and analyze the landscape of possible customer outcomes.
  7. Know your competitors and their strategies profoundly.
  8. Diversify around your core capabilities.
  9. Balance the stakeholders.
  10. Strategy is dynamic. Adjust as necessary, but with caution.

Balancing the stakeholders may seem more tactical than strategic, but the reason this tenet is on the list is the vital impact it has on your strategy, and how crucial it is to weave throughout your entire core capability.

The term “shareholder value” is relatively new, having been attributed to both Alfred Rappaport (Professor Emeritus at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University, in 1986) and to Jack Welsh (former CEO of General Electric). Of course, the concept of the responsibility of management and the board of directors toward increased returns to investors is certainly as old as civilization. But the obsession of corporations on increasing shareholder value is said to have begun with Jack Welsh in a speech he made in 1981 called “Growing fast in a slow-growth economy”. Other business historians point to contemporaries of Jack Welsh and Alfred Rappaport, such as T. Boone Pickens as the source of today’s fixation on shareholder value as the sole responsibility of management and the board.

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by Andy McCaskey, Principal

Once you have added New Media to your marketing program, or perhaps used it with internal audiences for training or management information, the next step might seem to be adding video. But don’t be too hasty. What's needed is some careful thought about your marketing and communications goals, and an evaluation of your overall social media marketing program. Make sure you have the bases covered with content other than video before you make the leap.

Remember that the overall goal is to focus your efforts around using social media promotional tools to reach an involved community, creating and distributing good content. You might incidentally mention your product and services, but you must insure that your content offers value to that community and fits within the overall conversation within your industry. Adding video to your content mix is not an automatic road to higher engagement. It could be a fast track to over-reaching expectations, expense, and frustration.

If you've structured your program correctly, you are already off to a slow yet dependable start. You are publishing regularly, often enough to get noticed (weekly or bi-weekly), in a format and length that begins to allow an audience to build around your offering. Blog posts, infographics, PDF White Papers, app notes and ebooks are all forms of content that can be cross-promoted. Audio podcasts need to be delivered within a stream of other types of content that are of interest or value, and video content will need to complement that content and fit within your overall communications plan.

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by Helen Fu Thomas, Principal

It is reported that the US presidential campaign cost $6 billion, with over a million ads.  And the election came down to county-by-county results that showed the demographics and votes (blue vs. red) in fine detail.

 The question that came to my mind was this: What corporate brand would run a commercial campaign like the ones in this election, with the massive scale of spending and coverage?   Would any Chief Executive travel through 4 states per day, meeting people and shaking their hands?  And behind the scenes, would analysts look at all points of sales in stores of each county, tune the messaging to the targeted audience, and have forecasts of sales down to the hundreds, tens or single units? 

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by Larry Pendergrass, Principal

Tenet #8: Diversify around your core capabilities. 

In this blog, I have offered Ten Tenets of Strategy. These tenets were gained through years of personal experience and discussions with key thought leaders and are offered as guidance for the development of your strategy.

  1. Your core competency is not your strategy.
  2. Compete on core capabilities, your set of business processes integrated throughout your value chain.
  3. Make hard choices. Decide what you will not do.
  4. Focus on customer outcomes. Design your strategy through the customers’ eyes.
  5. Analyze and design for the industry forces.
  6. Understand and analyze the landscape of possible customer outcomes.
  7. Know your competitors and their strategies profoundly.
  8. Diversify around your core capabilities.
  9. Balance the stakeholders.
  10. Strategy is dynamic. Adjust as necessary, but with caution.

Let’s turn now to the eighth of these Tenets:

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by Andy McCaskey, Principal

With all of the social media tools at your fingertips, your next challenge is creating and distributing good content about your product and service. A good place to start as you move beyond basic blog posts and photos is to add audio to your content mix, and then promote it with your social media tools.

New Media audio is not just podcasting, but so many people have become accustomed to that term from its traditional media adoption that it's a useful concept.  Podcasting is a form of distribution that burst onto the scene in late 2004 due to the convergence of several factors, including the Apple iPod portable music player (replicated but never equaled by scores of competitors), the rapid rise of broadband penetration, and recognition that distribution of audio content could be automated and attached to popular blogging platforms, notably Wordpress. Most potential listeners still had poor connectivity, so the process of alerting a subscriber's computer to new content, slowly downloading overnight to the computer hard drive and then pushing to a portable player was a clever solution to the needs of the time.  Apple iTunes quickly became the standard “podcatcher” on both Windows and Apple computers, performing the function automatically once a listener subscribed a podcast.

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by Scott S Elliott, CEO and Principal

For technology companies, the growth and success of individuals (and the company) can be inhibited by poor communications – somewhat due to that fact that many of the key contributors are engineers or other technical professionals.  These people (and I am one) were educated and steeped in “the scientific method” of discovery and analysis. This method, to state it simply, is:

  • Pick a topic or problem
  • Collect some data
  • Form a hypothesis or model that is consistent with those data
  • Conduct experiments or otherwise collect additional data
  • Test to determine if the new data are consistent with the model. If not, change the model or get a new one.
  • Repeat these steps for refinement

This method works extremely well for discovering phenomena of nature and inventing new gadgets and systems, but it is a terrible way to listen to people.

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A recent article in the Harvard Business Review (November, 2012; p. 76) stated that most mid-sized manufacturing companies are poorly managed. Ouch! In their study, "Examples of bad management were all too easy to find." Only 15% (US) and 5% (international) were truly well managed by their straightforward criteria.  As the HBR article concluded, what "may sound prosaic...is actually quite radical." Strong language indeed! So how does one go about managing an operation in a much better way?

We suggest a six-step process that combines strategy and culture, the only two handles a CEO really has. Tape this list to your refrigerator.

Corporate Headquarters:

TechZecs, LLC
1730 Kearny Street,
Suite F-3
San Francisco,  California
94133 USA

Principal and Founder

Dr. Scott S. Elliott
Telephone: +1.415.830.5520
Email: scott.elliott@techzecs.com
           info@techzecs.com

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