“We have certainly come a long way in a short period of time.  Recently, we won an award for the best performing energy efficient homes in North America.  The Focus Management Team, Fred, Richard and Stephen, have become a part of the L!V Communities Team, working with us to create better communication, clarity and alignment.  Our team is now focussed on what really matters and that’s what generates results that our customers expect and deserve.”Anthony Martelli, Chief Operating Officer L!V Communities
Good things last.  I was recently asked to speak in New York, to an international group of chief librarians from major urban centres from around the world. They share innovative efforts and the results annually. The core of my presentation was about  a strategic planning and alignment system that Fred and his team at FOCUS Management facilitated  at the Mississauga Library System, 15 years ago!  The process was robust, rigorous and collaborative in nature and Ahead…Mississauga Library System
“ We believe in investing in our people and we have engaged several firms to help us do that. I must admit that none of them have had the positive impact that FOCUS has, in such a short period of time. FOCUS facilitated results are pragmatic and can  immediately put to work to increase productivity and quality as the team gets stronger. And they did that WITH our people who really liked the FOCUS approach. We will continue to work with FOCUS as we grow our organization”  Richard Cupido, President and Owner, Burlington Paving
“We lean on Richard Gerofsky, Partner at FOCUS to help develop our strategic roadmap. Richard’s sound counsel, useful guidance and effective facilitation enabled Mayhew to think strategically, keeping steadfastly committed to our corporate vision and strategic objectives.  Richard is a key asset around the Mayhew boardroom table, and considered an extension of our Executive team.” Marcia Mayhew, CEO, Mayhew
“FOCUS is able to hone in on the most important strategic initiatives and gain a level of engagement and alignment across the organization. They deliver real results. I believe in the people. I believe in the product.”Craig Gilpin, CCO, North West
Telecom Triumph
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When is a Strength Not a Strength?

It is common, pretty early in the strategic planning process, to consider the relative strengths and weaknesses of the organization.  Most often, this is done as part of a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) review.  Many of us, it seems, have difficulty picking out true strengths from the (perhaps) long list of things we like about the organization.

At times like this, it helps to go back to basics – like definitions.  In this case, “what is a strength”?

In strategic planning (or strategy alignment, as we prefer to call it) a strength is an attribute, characteristic or asset that helps you win.  However you define “winning” (and let’s leave Charlie Sheen’s view of winning out of this discussion), a strength is something that gives the organization a tangible advantage and promotes or secures victory.  A strength allows you to:

  • —    close more sales to customers
  • —    provide better and/or higher quality products and services
  • —    manage and/or reduce costs to increase margins

and so on.  Most importantly, in a competitive marketplace – where winning matters – a strength helps you beat the competition.

Let’s consider a couple of examples:

Is “great people” a strength?

Well, it depends on what about them is great, and what you are doing with that greatness.  Did they start off great, or did you do something with them that has made them great?

Anyone can hire great people – what are you doing with them to make them, and keep them, greater?

How about “great products”?

Maybe.  But remember that today’s “category killers” can wind up in tomorrow’s bargain bin, especially in tech-heavy segments.  Great products can help you win today; sustaining that success requires the ability to bring innovative, value-laden products to market efficiently, effectively and quickly.

Look beyond the products themselves to the processes and practices you use to imagine, design, engineer, produce and market them.  This is where true strengths – and weaknesses – can be found.

Differentiate between true strengths and “table stakes”.  Compare yourself objectively to the best of your competitors.  And always incorporate the customers’ perspective.

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