Miller’s Monday Morning Message

Miller's Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.

Andrew Miller on strategy, operations, life balance and everything in between

Toronto – August 29, 2011 – The passing of Jack Layton has left a gaping hole in the leadership of the Canadian New Democrat Party. The leave of absence taken by Steve Jobs has left Apple with some big shoes to fill. These are just two examples of organizations that must immediately deal with a succession and leadership issue. Layton had already appointed Nicole Turmel as interim leader and Tim Cook has been making many of the decisions at Apple for the past six months. Will this ensure a smooth leadership transition? It will certainly make it easier. The one thing we can learn from both of these situations is that you never know when one of your top leadership positions will be vacated, so your organization better be prepared for it. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Decentralize decision-making – Organizations that give employees the ability to make decisions on their own will be better insulated when someone from the top leaves as there is less reliance on them to make all decisions.
  • Have a succession plan – When Jobs stepped down, he recommended that the board "execute the succession plan and appoint Tim Cook as CEO." No discussion needed as the plan had already been developed and approved.
  • Create an 18-24 month plan for new product or services – The strategy may change a little, but if you already have the roadmap for the next year or two, it softens the blow when the leader steps down or is removed.

A great leader will always be missed, but there are ways you can reduce the risk on your organization and continue to push in the right direction. Let's hope that Apple and the NDP were well-enough prepared.
 
To request an interview or more information, please contact:

Andrew Miller
416-480-1336
[email protected]
www.acmconsulting.ca
 
Follow me on Twitter @AndrewMillerACM

© Andrew Miller. All rights reserved. 2011.

Miller’s Monday Morning Message


Miller's Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.

Andrew Miller on strategy, operations, life balance and everything in between

Toronto – August 22, 2011 – Borders just became another victim. Blockbuster and Kodak have suffered, or will suffer, the same fate.  It almost happened to General Motors. Companies that used to be market leaders are closing their doors. Why? Because they forgot what made them market leaders in the first place, innovation, and they recognized a changing industry much too late in the game. Borders became a victim of the digital age…people ordering digital books and ebooks online to read on their tablets and e-readers. I use the word 'victim' but that is not the correct word. Borders was part of a changing industry and they didn't recognize early enough how to capitalize on that change, so they got left behind. Market behaviour is always going to change as a result of innovation, technological enhancements and changing customer habits. The companies that thrive are the ones that not only recognize this fact, but look for opportunities to exploit it. Being first or second out of the gate definitely has its advantages. Here are four things to think about to ensure you can thrive in any environment, especially in a declining industry:

  • Be constantly aware of what customers want – This can only be achieved by talking to them and involving them in the development of new ideas and innovations.
  • Be aware of what technological advances might impact your industry – Know how you can leverage those advances to rise above your competition. Know what the next big thing is before it hits and be the first one to take advantage of it.
  • Approach every new development as an opportunity, not a setback – This needs to be ingrained in your corporate culture and permits you to attack opportunities quickly. Develop ideas that not only ride the change, but even get ahead of it so you control how the industry changes (think Apple and the iPod).
  • Never get too comfortable – Always be innovating and take what Marshall Goldsmith said to heart, "What got you here won't get you there."

To request an interview or more information, please contact:

Andrew Miller
416-480-1336
[email protected]
www.acmconsulting.ca
 
Follow me on Twitter @AndrewMillerACM

© Andrew Miller. All rights reserved. 2011.

Assessing Future Business Opportunities

When you take over a new business or step into a new management position, there are a few areas you need to assess before you can take advantage of new opportunities. And you need to do it quickly. Many people refer to this time as the first 100 days. Here are a few of the areas you should look at:

·       Talent – What are the current capabilities and potential of your employees, especially those in management  and other leadership positions? If you see any leadership deficiencies, can training or development help address them?

·       Processes – Are the operating processes of the company focused on adding value through every activity? Can they be standardized across business units? Are you providing your products and services to customers in the most effective way?

·       Technology – Is the technology you are using appropriate for the business you are running? Are there opportunities to automate repetitive and/or manual activities? Is the technology supporting business decisions instead of driving them?

·       Business Partnerships – Are you partnering with the right suppliers and getting treated as an important customer? Are your business partners coming up with ways to help you improve performance in your business?

·       The Numbers – Are you profitable in certain product or customer segments but not in others? Are there sacred cows that used to be important to the business but are now unprofitable or in decline?

·       Culture and Flexibility – Does the organization have a history of adapting well to changing industries and environments? Is there a culture of change and empowerment? How is change managed within the organization?

If you are able to quickly assess where your company stands in these areas by talking with employees, business partners and advisers and reviewing and observing the operations, you will quickly be able to develop a priority list of the biggest opportunities for improved performance and profitability.

Miller’s Monday Morning Message

Miller's Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.

Andrew Miller on strategy, operations, life balance and everything in between

Toronto – August 15, 2011 – Last week I was walking through the town of Hunstville, Ontario with my family and noticed a brilliant marketing idea by a local shop owner. He owned a bike store and obviously wanted to not only attract customers for his bikes, but also his other products. He had bike racks mounted to the outside of his store to display his bikes to people who walked by on the sidewalk. On the surface, this seemed like a creative way to showcase the bikes. However, upon further reflection, I realized that this was a brilliant way to showcase the bike racks! So I mentioned to the owner that I thought this was a great idea and he replied "I have sold about three times more bike racks than before I had them mounted outside." What? A low-cost marketing idea that has more than tripled sales? What an amazing accomplishment. And these racks were no small potatoes, the two models mounted to the front of the store cost in the range of $400 each and were top-on-the-line brand names. It shows us that no marketing idea is too simple and even the most basic ideas can yield results. This story also shows us that we should always be on the lookout for new ideas and new ways to market our products and services. Package things a little differently, shows complimentary products together, or find other creative ways to attract attention. Think of the small bike shop owner and displaying his bike racks outside for everyone to see. People now walk by the store and think, "I need a new bike rack for the car and here are two right in front of me, I should go in and take a look." Sometimes the best ideas come from the most unlikely places.
 
To request an interview or more information, please contact:

Andrew Miller
416-480-1336
[email protected]
www.acmconsulting.ca

 
Follow me on Twitter @AndrewMillerACM

© Andrew Miller. All rights reserved. 2011.

What Does a Trusted Advisor Look Like

As I work with more and more clients and build stronger relationships with them, it becomes more clear to me the different between a consultant and an advisor. A consultant will help improve the performance of your business (at least a good one will), but an advisor does these things in addition to that:

  • Provides you candid advice, regardless of what everyone else is telling you
  • Introduces you to key people that can help you in other ways
  • Always has your best interests in mind, not their own
  • Communicates with you regularly, even when there is no work being done together
  • Provides value to you on regularly, even when an initiative is not being worked on
  • Develops explicit trust with you and shares confidential information
  • Brings customers together to share information
  • Develops thought leadership material

The only business model that I follow is to be a trusted advisor to my clients and do what is in their best interests to improve their lives. Do you have anyone around you providing that? If not, you should. A trusted advisor will help your business and your personal development improve in ways that you did not know were possible.

A Little Clarity Never Hurt Anyone

Every year, my family and I rent a cottage in Muskoka, a beautiful cottage area two hours north of Toronto. As I write this, I am sitting on the dock looking over a calm lake and listening to the wildlife chirp and sing. What a beautiful way to spend a week. Not only does it allow me to spend quality time withe the family, but it also provides an opportunity to take a step back from city life and reflect on where I am and where I want to be. It provides me with some clarity of direction and purpose. This week, I have become very clear on who I want to be and the kind of father I want to be to my children, the kind of husband I want to be to my wife, the kind of work I would like to do with my customers and future customers and the type of person I want to be to others. Not a bad outcome for a week's vacation. How do you get your clarity?