A Winning Culture Keeps Score

26 02 2014

Keeping score is vital to the success of organisations and their staff. But this success hinges on everyone knowing what “winning” looks like and what the priority activities are to achieve it. Done well, an organisation can create a handful of relevant metrics that help everyone see & measure their contribution to the overall goal. However if these key metrics are missing or not clearly aligned to the activities across the business, then it becomes much harder to ‘make the boat go faster’.


The power of a one-phrase strategy in driving growth

8 03 2013

Sports psychologists talk about being in flow, in the zone. It means the athlete is focused, with no distractions, and performance becomes almost effortless. But this state of effortlessness, requires a lot of effort to achieve it, whether in high performance sport or small businesses.

Re-reading Margaret Manson‘s CEO Online article “The power of the ‘One-Rule’ in productivity and growth” has been a valuable reminder of the importance of maintaining focus if market scale is to be achieved. In effect it recommends developing an organisation-specific way of challenging whether a proposed idea or project will “make the boat go faster”.

This strategic focus is much harder to agree and execute than a simple phrase suggests. It needs to be the organisation’s “north star” that helps people trade off competing priorities by being able to hold up a new project against the number one strategic outcome. It needs to be specific enough that everything can be justified against it, but broad enough to align the whole organisation.

Vern Harnish, business growth guru and author of The Rockefeller Habits, adopts a similar approach with recommending a “one-phrase strategy“. Vern often uses the example of the “wheels up” strategy of SouthWest Airlines. This simple phrase drove every strategic and operational decision from reservation systems to cleaning processes to the types of aircraft they bought. The single focus of every decision was to keep the planes in the air where they generate profits, not on the ground waiting or being repaired.

Do you have a “one-rule” or “one-phrase strategy” within your department or organisation? And is it one that helps clearly focus strategic and operational decisions as well as “wheels up” or “THE low cost airline”? Please share in the comments below.

Re-evaluating the 4 Ps of marketing for sport

10 02 2013

This month’s HBR magazine has an interesting article about rethinking the classic 4 Ps for B2B marketing. Instead of Product, Place, Price and Promotion, the authors propose Solution, Access, Value and Education. As NGBs are largely in the B2B space, rather than B2C, the article has some interesting ideas for sport’s governing bodies.

Instead of PRODUCT focus on SOLUTION
HBR – Define offerings by the needs they meet, not by their features, functions, or technological superiority.

Relevance to NGBs – as NGBs become more customer-focused in their planning and delivery, they are moving from just developing new products to providing the supporting services and experiences that collectively deliver benefits that meet customer needs. Central to this evolution is a deep understanding of their customer’s needs, influences and behaviours, as this enables them to clearly identify solutions that meet the specific needs of their target customers.

Instead of PLACE focus on ACCESS
HBR – Develop an integrated cross-channel presence that considers customers’ entire purchase journey instead of emphasising individual purchase locations and channels.

Relevance to NGBs – it’s often tempting to think about participants in just one place, whether its as a member of one club or on the end of one email address. In reality participants increasingly want choice and flexibility in how they engage with a sport, just as they do with many other brands. Therefore the modern NGB business model needs to consider who its target customers are, what kind of relationship the NGB wants to have with those customers, and who their key partners need to be to provide the range of access those customers want. These partners will include those offering local delivery options and/or online connections.

Instead of PRICE, focus on VALUE
HBR – Articulate the benefits relative to price, rather than stressing how price relates to production costs, profit margins, or competitors’ prices.

Relevance to NGBs – pricing is a common topic within sport, usually in the context of demands for programmes/sessions to be cheaper or free. To be able to achieve scalable growth, the conversation needs to turn to the value sport provides, as many of the competitors for people’s time have a higher price but still offer better/more relevant value. For example, how does the value of the hour of sporting experience you provide compare with the price of a coffee or a trip to the cinema?

Instead of PROMOTION focus on EDUCATION
HBR – Provide information relevant to customers’ specific needs at each point in the purchase cycle, rather than relying on advertising, PR, and personal selling that covers the waterfront.

Relevance to NGBs – in thinking about “grow” & “sustain” plans it can be easy to forget that most participants don’t quickly commit to a sport for the long-term. Therefore promoting the value and accessibility of the solutions a sport offers, needs to be an on-going process for retaining and growing customer engagement. This education can extend beyond where to play and why it’s adding value, to include information about the participation itself. Nike have already demonstrated that the cross-industry consumer trend for accessing and using personal consumption data can be harnessed as a powerful motivator of participation.

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