Managing change or riding the wave? – Lessons from a futurist

Are we managing change or adapting to it? 

Success in the future will be determined by your ability to ride the wave of change. Not on the false premise you create change.

That was my big takeaway from an inspirational session with David Houle – self claimed futurist, at an open TEC event this week.

David spent the first half of our time together building the scene: giving us a technology history lesson and then motivating us (NZ)  to get our act together with broadband.  To be honest the warm up was a bit slow for me (maybe I am an impatient bugger) , but then came the really good thought-provoking stuff.

David labels the current decade (2010 – 2020) the Shift Age, with three main characteristics:

  • Flow to global
  • Flow to individual
  • Accelerated connectedness

 David describes a futurist as someone who helps transform shape and form of business. Stating there is always opportunity in danger.

 The main takeaways from this event for me were:

  •  Don’t kid yourself we can no longer manage change – we can no longer be change agents – we live in a world of every increasing change – future winners will be the leaders who can read and adapt to it, rather than attempt to control it. Effectively riding the wave of change.  We need to become a “morph corps” – how well structured for constant change is your business?
  • Forget traditional office environments – we need to separate the concept of place and work.  Modern workers need space to collaborate and cross fertilise. So how about pulling down cubicle farms and create thinking rooms – for staff to get together and collaborate in. Then let them to work at home for the rest of the time? It’s interesting us baby boomers still cannot get our head around teenagers working with distractions around (music, tv, etc) it is time we consider how the new generation thinks and creates best.
  • The new high touch – tech world – “hugging is in” – check out the teenagers – look at the Apple retail concept “the temple of cool” – designed to  get people using stuff. How are you integrating this concept  into your business?
  • Future wealth will be defined by Intellectual Property (IP) – interpreting his case studies my take on this was that it will be  IP + Brand Experience that will drive future wealth.  The emotional attachment to brand experience is real and consuming in this modern world. David gave a great example of this  “whose kid wants a HP or a Dell Laptop?” “Apple is the cool one” – Hell my daughter is fixated on her new ,MacBook experience this year.
  • Watch out for the “digital natives” those young ones coming through – who have no experience of the pre digital world – they are different – adapt and find ways to maximise their talent.
  • People hold the power not traditional corporations / structure – the individual needs to be engaged with. Interesting to still hear people failing to adapt to the new channel of customer/stakeholder communications of social media.

A great morning of inspiration:  If you are interested in more of David’s theories, he does have a book – “The Shift Age”. By all accounts he is another American who has fallen in love with Australia and NZ , so I am sure we will see him as a regular visitor on the NZ speaking circuit. Well worth a listen to.

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GMC Business Model Canvas

Often business owners get distracted by the complexity of their own business and end up wasting time and energy working on the wrong stuff. The business model canvas is a technique that documents your business model with a simple diagram. I have found it invaluable in helping businesses gain greater clarity about what activities add value to their business.

Having now used the canvas for some time, I have generated my own version of it, that better suits the type of businesses I have been working with. Often just filling out this template or canvas, creates many powerful discussions that benefits the business.

Below is my adapted version of the canvas: (you can click here for a pdf)

In the formative stages of growth of a company, it is particularly important not to loss sight of both the quantifiable value proposition and what your sustainable competitive advantage is.

In my incarnation of the canvas I have included two new boxes:

  • Problem – What is the problem your product or service solves?
  • Unique Proposition – What do you have that makes you unique and keeps competitors at bay? Particularly ones with deep pockets.

If you are new to the “business model canvas” , here is a link to a book review and summary that I published a while ago on the original book. It’s great to see this book appearing on book shelves all around the country.My hope is that business owners are using it to accelerate decisions in their business on a daily basis and note just letting it gather dust.

PS: Like all tools it works better when you under stand how to use it. If you want a hand getting used to using this model on your business– come along to one of the GMC business planning workshops.

PPS:  I have just updated my version of the canvas read my V2 GMC Canvas post Oct 2012

Must do financial basic analysis.

Do not ignore your accounts…

My experience is that most business owners who are “not interested” or “not motivated” by accounts are in severe danger and major unpleasant surprises, often too late.

It’s amazing how some costs just creep up and before you know it, you are loosing money.

So, you are not a financial guru, most business owners aren’t.  But you cannot ignore your financial management responsibilities. Too many business owners I come across, have absolved their finances to an accountant or book-keeper.

Finance is not an annual activity; it’s at very least a monthly activity.

Yes by all means use a bookkeeper for entry, but on a monthly basis you need to review some basic financial dashboards.

Each month I would suggest you review the following three dashboards.

  1. Year to Date Profit & Loss Statement – per account code, per month
    what you are looking for here is , beyond how much profit or loss you made, are any unexplained shifts up or down month by month
    export this to excel so you can easily review
  2. Balance Sheet – this statement shows your real financial position – keep an eye out on liabilities such as GST to pay – particularly if you are on 6 monthly GST
  3. Account Receivables – Manage your debtors – be very aware of who owes you what – chase the poor payers as soon as they go over your agreed terms.

In addition to the above reports have a copy of your last years P&L month by month statement so you can constantly compare and look for trends.

The next major activity as a manager is to plan your forward cash flow. Businesses fail due to poor cash flow planning, particularly with items such as tax payments. These do not appear out of thin air. Work with your accountant to plan these 12 months ahead.

Accounting Systems

If getting financial reports out is a chore, I would suggest you either do not have a good accounting system or you or your staff do not know how to use it effectively. Some older systems such as MYOB are very powerful but users need to be trained to minimize entry time and maximize value.

Most SME’s should not require more than 4 hours accounts work per month. Modern tools have automated so much of the process.

In my business I shifted from MYOB to Xero this year. Here are my observations:

Pro’s:

  • Automated daily bank feeds from both of my banks:   It’s quicker now to log into Xero either on my phone or PC than go through lengthy logins and clumsy interfaces from two banks – just to check balances and see who’s paid and not
  • Payment reconciliation now takes seconds – rather than minutes.
  • I am out and about – so being able to check up on reports is great– I did not need to do a days training to learn it.

Con’s:

  • I miss the powerful analysis tools and abilities to customize the set of accounts with multiple cost centres, that MYOB offered me

Recently I have become a real fan of Xero (its $60 per month) but offers the following advantages:

  • It’s available instantaneously for review by you and other trusted advisors
  • Most tasks can be automated – Reconciliation and entry of payments invoices take seconds
  • Enables you to keep an eye on your book-keeping staff
  • For a business of your size it should be taking you less than 4 hours per month to stay on top of all of your book-keeping need

Loyal – Trusted Networks Don’t Just Happen

Have you ever sat back and analysed your business network and assessed who gives you referrals that result in clients – one’s that pay.

  • Building a collection of names – Easy
  • Building relationships – Good Fun!
  • Building a powerful referral network that results in $ales – ????

In my case, excluding existing and previous clients, I have received more referrals from one person, than the rest of my wide network put together .

This concept has had me thinking lately as to what defines and differentiates a person more likely to refer paying work to you than others.

Here is my list for an ideal referral agents – or a great person for your network:

  1. They like you – they can be bothered
  2. You have provided them clients – reciprocity .
  3. You both service a similar market – i.e their clients are good clients for you
  4. You have a mutual clear understanding of what you each do well – how clear is your pitch?
  5. It is clear that you are not in competition to them – My take is fear of a stealing clients gets in the way of most referrers
  6. If you are in the professional services area – you have seen each other in action. This is important because we may like people – but our own personal brand is associated with any referral.

Jits Doolabh’s Trust Model

I meet Jits (www.revonet.co.nz ) for the first time the other day over a coffee and he shared his model for building effective networks.  Basically he goes through a process of shifting contacts – potential clients or referrers from knowing you to liking you then trusting you. This is evident by the clients matching responses and behaviour transitioning from agnostic through to being loyal and ultimately acting as a referrer for you.

He has systemised this model to help companies improve their sales performance. By working intensively with sales teams and owners he has managed some transformational results in sales results.

 

For those looking at boosting their networking power, there are some helpful tips can be found on jasons blog at www.thepeoplepeople.co.nz http://www.thepeoplepeople.co.nz/2011/01/the-top-13-of-2010/