Archive for November, 2013

Adrenalin Fuelled Growth

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Cyclists, marathon runners and racehorses reach a point in a race, where there is a need for a “spurt” of energy, a need to shift gear and up the speed and intensity. So businesses need to do the same when seeking to exploit opportunities in a new market.  The product or service is launched, you are gaining traction with an increasing number of clients and your brand is becoming a recognised player. There is now an urge to move to the next level of performance (increased sales, increased profitability, increased presence and so on).

In making that shift you need to see BOTH short-term and long-term results. Yet in many organisations seeking higher levels of growth their actions achieve at most, one of those goals or in certain cases, none of those goals.

Here are a few essential actions my best clients undertake:

  1. What is the minimum level of growth required to be a more significant competitor in our market (be realistic but ambitious).
  2. Determine where we must abandon or limit investment in current products, services and customer relationships (take the emotion out of the logical decisions)
  3. What positive trends are there in our sector where we can adapt, adjust or quickly create a compelling new value proposition (changes in demographic, customer behaviour, technology, risk, demand and so on).
  4. Who is our highest-potential customers who can pay for that value (start with existing customers, move onto new buyers)
  5. How do we best build a trusting relationship with those customers and they with us (where do they hang out, who do they refer to for advice, what do they read, what do they react to favourably and so on)

Cash, credit and investment are the “fuel” to reach the next level of performance but they must be directed intelligently to get to the next level of performance. Without clear answers to those five questions you are simply hazarding a “guess”, and in most situations likely to fritter away scarce resources and disappoint your key constituents: shareholders, employees, customers and business partners.

© James Berkeley 2013

Disruption and Decisiveness, Two Rare Bedfellows

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

I have been talking to many executives in the past few months about their response to disruptive market changes. Insurers and reinsurers competing with a flood of capital from pension funds. US health insurers responding to legislative changes and the advent of public and private healthcare insurance exchanges. International hotel chains fighting online travel agents for control of the customer and so forth. Some are slow, steady market evolutions, otherwise are more sudden or opportunistic moves. All demand a response, which may be “do nothing”, adjust and adapt the market positioning of existing products, services and customer relationships, or even exit some product, consumer, industry or geographic markets.

There are two fundamental questions that need answering:

What can and should management do now?

What other big changes may lie ahead of which we are as yet unaware?

Organisations and those leading them are expected by their consumers, shareholders, employees and business partners to be decisive. Yet too often I observe top management being indecisive. The fear of making a decision, one way or other, seems to be paralyzing in the executive suite. The “safe” option is often the worst option (circling the wagons and defending the organisation’s neatly staked out territory). There are, of course, shining examples here and there (Alan Mulally at Ford). However, on the whole performance in mid to large organisations is still mediocre.

Disruptive market conditions demand leaders take decisive action. That means answers in the form of a clearly defined vision of your product, service and customer relationship in the “new” market, getting buy-in from employees, and supporting them on the “journey of change” from the status quo to the future state.

What Does the Fox Say?: Speed Not Perfection Key to Profitable Growth

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

The Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis have created the biggest viral internet hit since Gangnam Style. 200 million hits on YouTube, a comedy show with little recognition outside Norway is now the source for children’s books, a hit record, a recording deal with Warner Music and global distribution of their shows to remote corners of the planet. Brothers Vegard and Bård Ylvisåker, collectively known as Ylvis, dancing around a forest in fox suits are now the ones laughing at us!

There are some important lessons in this madness for those tasked with profitably growing a business. Customers perception of your product or service can sometimes dramatically exceed your own. Serendipity supercedes the most conscientious business plans. Without sound strategic implementation skills, you achieve nothing. When Lady Luck bestows good fortune you must be able to move with speed, have ready access to capacity (capital, physical and human resources) and the self-confidence to grasp the opportunity.

The Cow goes “moo”, Frog goes “croak”And the elephant goes “toot”. Are you ready to go “ker-ching” when you hear the “ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding” of opportunity?

Welcome to James Berkeley’s Blog

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

So many blogs I see are full of conceptual, trite and dull views. They ask the wrong questions and merely serve as platforms for displaying the size of the writer’s ego. My promise to you is that you will never accuse us of the same.

I founded my consulting business with the belief that it is not my job to teach people what to think. The greatest gift I can give my clients and others is to ask the right questions, to get them to think. To think, in ways that they have never thought before.

Market Leading Growth blog features sound practical advice and perspective for those with profit and loss responsibility in expansive organisations, who want to profitably grow in high growth markets.

I will present fresh ideas, formal and informal viewpoints, techniques, articles, educational resources, links, video and podcasts etc to help accelerate the movement from the “status quo” to your desired level of improvement.

I learn exponentially more from listening to those people, who choose to engage formally or informally with me, enabling me to adapt and adjust to their pulse, and their suggestions for improvement. I welcome debate and communication amongst readers of the blog.

In over twenty years, I have acquired a rich set of past experiences, living in, and growing businesses of all variety in different cultures and geography. A true “globalist”. I have sat in the executive suite and also on the other side of the table, advising those with profit and loss responsibility for dramatic growth. I have felt, heard, seen and sensed the challenge of balancing short- and longer-term profitable growth needs with the expectations of key constituents: Boards, shareholders, employees and customers.

I have worked for and with some of the stand out brands in their respective sectors, AON, Travelers, Hilton Worldwide, Caesars Entertainment, Ericsson and over 30 other market leaders around the world. On that journey I have had the pleasure of collaborating with some of the finest minds.

I have learned that those, who inhabit and sustain market leadership positions have some very distinct traits: they are passionate and hold clear positions, yet they allow others to challenge their beliefs, they are not afraid to abandon past beliefs that have served them well, and they are not afraid to provoke and take contrarian positions. Most importantly, they want to soar, not merely coast in their career.

My observation is that improvement is largely incremental, a sequence of small steps, which when combined create a dramatic leap. I hope you will find one or more small steps, each time you read this blog.

You have my permission to use any of the information on the blog just so long as you correctly attribute the source.

To quote Damon Runyon, “You can become a winner only if you are willing to walk over the edge.”

– James Berkeley

Ground Rules

  1. This blog is administered and run by Salvatore Lovano of CB Software Systems, Inc.
  2. Our intent is to publish new, brief articles or insight by James every week. Some will be on market-leading growth. The others will be on a contemporary issue, which are sparking James’s imagination or driving him crazy.
  3. Posts are appreciated. You can expect James to reply to valuable postings, intelligent questions or points that illustrate an absence of common sense and a danger of spreading like wildfire. Any postings that detract from the quality of the discussion, our ethics or the standards of behaviour we actively like to promote, will not be aired.

If you would like to talk directly with James….

Please go to the website or contact him at +44 203 440 5072