Tag Archives: business development

Logical Developments … well maybe not!

If you are looking to develop your business and call in outside help, you are likely to be told to:

  • Be clear about where you are trying to go [some form of vision or mission statement]
  • Analyse what is going on in the market / world [STEP and market analysis]
  • Examine your strengths and weaknesses [SWOT or resource analysis]
  • Produce a plan to help you get there

Different advisors will use different jargon for each of these stages but they all mean the same thing – a logical analysis of the situation, a logical assessment of your capability to compete and a logical plan for moving forward. A very logical approach.

Usually, this is sound advice, particularly  if you want to improve gradually and it is certainly better than not doing any analysis but… there is a hidden danger.

if it is logical to you, it will be logical to everyone else!

and that will make it easy to copy and hard for you to differentiate yourself.

To make a step change in your performance and open up new possibilities, you sometimes need to think differently, look at the market differently and act illogically.

Aircraft landing at Nice - Cote d'Azur

(c) Jim Yates 2011

Think about Stelios and EasyJet for example: He didn’t say… “how can I make air travel a bit cheaper?” – “He thought ..”If I can make it as cheap to fly from Liverpool to Malaga as it is to get a train from Liverpool to Edinburgh – enough people will go to Malaga for the weekend to make it profitable!” [You can insert your own choice of cities – the idea’s the same!] By doing this, he created a profitable niche in a very challenging market [and acquired a lot of imitators over time!]

It may sound logical once you get to the idea but you wouldn’t get there by logical, analytical thought processes. You might be able to construct a logic for how you got there by working backwards but you’d never get there in a logical linear fashion.

So how can you look at your product, service, market from a different angle and come up with an offering that excites new groups of customers?

Do you have the skills to help your team to come up with radical, illogical answers?

How can you encourage new ideas and more importantly stop crushing them?

Successful Professional Services – the three types of people you need and how to get them

Long term success for professional service firms [lawyers, accountants, architects, professional engineers etc] depends to a large extent on developing the right balance of:

Grinders – to complete the work in hand
Minders – to build and maintain relationships with existing customers
Finders – to find the next generation of customers

The right balance is different for each business but someone must take on each of the roles if the business is to survive and prosper.

Each role also needs a different combination of:

  • Technical [what the business does]
  • Personal and
  • Interpersonal Capabilities

Often this is not fully recognised and results in the wrong people being promoted to management and business development roles. I’ve seen many examples where the best “technician” has been promoted to become a poor manager. The business gets a double hit – losing capability in one key area and getting a less than satisfactory performer in another area. This can also lead to frustration, demotivation and loss of self-esteem – again with a negative impact on performance.

Richard Boyatzis suggested that for any role, the threshold competences required to perform the role were different from those which differentiated star performers. Top performers aren’t  just better at the job, they have skills and capabilities which others don’t have.

The competences required for each role are different; so your best technical performer may not have what it takes to be an adequate minder or finder, let alone a star. So rather than automatically promoting your best technical performer, it could make sense to select the second, third or fourth best performer who has the necessary attributes for a broader role. It is rare to find individuals who excel in and are excited by both technical and managerial roles.

It makes sense to offer parallel development routes for your technical and management / business development professionals – each group is important for the future of the business. Many good technical personnel feel pressurised move into management roles to develop career even when they know they are not suited to it or motivated by it.

There are three key steps to getting the right mix of people for your business:

  1. Understand the differences between the roles and the attributes required for each
  2. Identify which attributes and capabilities can be developed and which cannot
  3. Recruit a good mix of people and have development plans in place for each of the roles.

Most of all, you need to take it seriously, it will be good for your wealth.

An updated version Fulcrum’s “Encouraging Enterprise” programme tailored for professional service organisations has just been launched to address these important issues. You might also like to check out our review of the literature on Developing Customer Relations in Professional Services.