I Believe… My Purpose

Stop me if you heard this one before…

“I have a great idea for a…” or “No one else is doing this. It would be a great business…”

Like you, I have heard many of these lines over the past years from people who were thinking of starting a business or expanding an existing offering. Over time I have come to realize that potentials are not about a great idea or a gap in opportunities, rather it’s about the reason it’s important to do. So, the best question I can ask of them is this…

What’s the purpose?

Hint; ‘Purpose’ speaks to people. “Human to Human”

As Simon Sinek states, “Start with Why”. I believe the ‘Why’ will help identify the ‘Who’ if clearly defined and then possibly the ‘How.’ What you provide to support that ‘Why’ (your purpose/cause) could become your offering.

Once you determine to create, expand or even redesign your offering, map it out visually to make it a tangible plan, then heed some important advice that was shared with me. Seek out an outside professional to help you see beyond your framework to ensure that your purpose is clear and important enough to others as well to sustain growth and success.

Be a Cause, not just because.

A to A Thru B

As I sat watching some of year’s NASCAR race at the airport, I am reminded of a discussion a good friend and I had about a better visual to represent the course businesses take to achieve success. We debated of what a journey should look like for a business as it moves along the path to success. We each agreed that the journey is complex and requires some flexibility as well as constant monitoring to ensure your business is following the general course established. but we differ on the visual that best represents a modern business strategy.

His view-point is a more traditional business thinking that a journey is a series of smaller increments of travel from point A to Point B. I, however, had a view the journey in a much different visual. Yes, I agree that there is a point of origin and a directionality to the journey, but I see it more as being similar to a figure eight race. In my idea, there is a starting point along a defined course, but instead of rushing to the end and then resetting, I see it as a looping path which returns to the point of origin while the driver is still moving along vying for position while always in constant check of his status, the competition, his surrounding and the vehicle’s condition. Business is continuous, not contiguous. (see diagram below)

Journey Pathsm

Like stock car racing, it’s not about going as fast as you can in a short run, instead, its careful planning and timing along the whole of the event. It’s about having a strategy for success that utilizes constant reviews and observations along the way towards the established goal.

As I see it, the goal is not simply getting from point A to Point B the fastest. To achieve success and constant growth, it’s about knowing your ability and how to use the equipment and knowledge you have to improve along the way to win the race. Achieving success in business is not about reaching the destination, rather embracing the journey that constantly builds upon itself.

Cave Walling, 40,000 Years Later

Folks, I am happy to present a concept that has churned around in my head for a few years now. Since chatting with a good friend, Renee Malone of Kick the Moon about the image you see below.

The concept is called Cave Walling, an experience in visual thinking beyond that of graphic facilitation or visual scribing. It’s a thINKing experience.  An experience where groups of people can create, resolve or refocus ideas with visual clarity in a collaborative space.

Why do I think it is a powerful method, because “Cave Walling” taps into the earliest and most powerful of communication languages, visual imagery or graphic story telling. Combined with the written and the verbal language, Cave Walling presents an environment of communication that touches all levels of language as well as accessing and utilizing all the experiences and knowledge each participant brings to the wall. The blending of all three aspects of communication and the human resources of groups, delivers an exponentially higher level of creativity and idea development.

I hope to bring this event of Cave Walling to the masses, if not, to those seeking a better, more dynamic way of collaborating on ideas.

Making Change

Have you ever wondered what is “Change” and how to see change in your business? To answer this question we must first understand how change is defined and then see how that manifests itself in a business model.

Change, as defined by Webster’s dictionary, is to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone; to transform or convert; to substitute another or others for; exchange  for something else, usually of the same kind. To change is to alter the current state.

When brought down to the fundamental level of change, three states exist working in combination with another; maintain or extend further the current offering, add other products or services and finally, remove products and services. The outcome is clear, the effect from change produces one of three conditions to a business offering, at least from the customer stand point; you can either refine, revalue (re-engineer the value) or reinvent the offering.

Enter the Change Triad. The illustration above demonstrates the process. By selecting two of the three options available, a business owner can decide the course of change. Pick two for change. Sounds like a campaign slogan, but it is true. Take a look at the process. To make something different you must do something other than stay static, you must add or remove something from the current state.

Take your offering and extend it forward, now add something new to the mix and you effectively revalue your offering for the customer. This is usually the common path of growing businesses. Let’s repeat the same sequence, except this time, rather than add new offerings, we remove some old items. Maybe these items are outdated, unused or just didn’t match you customer’s needs. Now the business offering has been refined, eliminating unneeded content or streamlining the business. Sounds all too familiar in these economic times.

The last combination is a more dramatic and harder option to attempt. This is a complete reinvention of your business. By eliminating everything current and replacing it with a completely new offering, you , in essence, have a completely new model. At this point, you might as well change the name too, because you are no longer who you were.

That’s the Change Triad and how change is seen in a business environment.

Okay, by now you may have realized, as the person sitting behind me reading over my shoulder so proudly stated loudly, there is still one more combination. The “All In” option. Yes, opting to do it all to some degree is the fourth and last option. Keep a bit, remove some and add some. By following this option, you have enacted a change that touches all three aspects at some level; refine, reinvent and re-engineer the value. This type of change, when done correctly, is evolution and should be done with the customer in mind to ensure success.

So when you state you are going to change your business offering, decide if it is for refinement, adjusting the value proposition, reinventing the offering, or, as my new-found vocal editor states, going all in to evolve the offering. Decide first which is the best option and plan your change in every detail. Be proactive and guide your change and never let change guide you.

That’s how I see it and now I hope I’ve helped.

It All Comes Around

We’ve all heard the old saying ‘Life is like a wheel, what goes around, comes around’. What you send out eventually comes back around to you and usually to your blind side. In business this is so true to a major degree, but not always. Many times your efforts lack results or your message is not shared as you had intended. There are many reasons for this that they have been the source of many marketing books. Out of brevity,  I won’t go there.

As some who know me, I have this perception that many of life’s core solutions revolve around three’s. In this issue about business communication, it rings true. To get a clear image of how to make sure what goes around, comes around in your business, I offer this simple, but effective visual thinking map.

Enter, one of the business triads that addresses; what you say, in which way you say it and what others are say about you.

At the top of our triad stands you, the core of your brand. Next along the triad is the mechanics, the method of delivery and closely followed by your customers. Simple enough layout to understand.

So how does this help you take control of your message and what people say about you or your offering? Not much as diagrams go, until you understand the questions you should be asking yourself at the tips of the triad.

Back at the top is you, your offering or as some would say, your brand. You have a very clear idea of what you do and how you do it, but often, we give control up to marketing and advertising firms who generate some branding message that may fall short of your expectations.  The issue may be that the right message is not being not communicated. Ask yourself this question; what do I want my prospects and customers to know about me?

This is a fairly straight forward question. Your answer needs to be precise, clear and brief as possible. Such as; I offer this to my customer, I solve this problem for my customers or my customers should know this about me, it’s the most important issue. This is the “What for Who” part of your message. Hone it like a knife.

Now you have the start of a great conversation. Your side of the story. The second point along the triad is the mechanics. The “How” of the triad. Here you must find the best avenue or method to convey this message. Identify which mechanism works best to deliver your message directly to your type of customer who needs your service or product. Even though there are many avenues and channels to communicate through, marketing experts tell me start with the best and then fan out where and when needed. It’s best to always monitor this mechanism to make subtle adjustments along the way.

What do we have so far? We have a clear a precise message of who you are, what you offer and how it helps your prospect. Unclouded by flashy words, long meandering explanations and marketing hype. Just the core message. We also have determined the best avenue for that message given the conditions of your target customer. We have addressed two of the three points along the business triad. Onto the third and last point.

The last point is the customer or public. This is the “When, where and why” part of the triad. At this juncture you need to know what people are saying about you and your offering. Yes, you can’t control this, however, this important information to know so that you can adjust your message to stay relevant and on target. By knowing what customers are saying about you and your offering governs either the message, the mechanism or both. Ask your customers what they think about you. A better method is to have someone else ask your customers about you and your offering. This is mystery shopping and a great way to hear the customer’s side of the story.

There you have it, a basic business triad that addresses the core of business. As you may imagine, there are many more to explore. I hope to touch on more business triads in the near future, but for now, this is the thINKologist asking that you keep thinking visual so you can visualize your business success.