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by Alan Hargreaves

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Entrepreneurial Disorders

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Entries in strategy (37)


Reframe your business thinking

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The lever you need to press is attitude.

We often think we are letting go of old ideas when in reality we are just adjusting our grip. Our lateral notion of change turns out to be cosmetic, not fundamental.

We sometimes see change only in physical terms, like an actual product or an operational process.

Those things are an outcome of change, not a driver of it. What needs to shift first is attitude.

Exactly what is a lateral idea in business?

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Timing and luck

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Are successful people right, lucky or both?

In the mid-1980s, I listened to Nobel prize-winning finance professor, William Sharpe, address the Hong Kong Society of Securities Analysts.

Sharpe was one of our heroes, having developed the Capital Asset Pricing Model, or CAPM. (We don’t need to go into that here but for investment geeks CAPM is up there with sex).

Then the professor told us it was impossible to consistently beat the market.

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Beer Mat Strategy

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A few ideas can be better than a lot.

What was Steve Jobs first strategic call when he returned to Apple in 1997?

According to biographer, Walter Isaacson, he slashed 90% of existing product development. On a whiteboard he drew a simple alternative plan.

It was a two-by-two matrix. The columns were Consumer and Pro; the rows were Desktop and Portable. Four market segments; four products. Everything else was eliminated. Apple was reborn.

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What you are thinking is not what will happen

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The problems with planning.

Do businesses turn out exactly like the business plan? None of mine did. Even my most sophisticated spreadsheets never produced anything like the numbers I forecast. Personal plans were not much different.

Some have gone worse, some have gone better, but none mirrored the profile I had so carefully constructed. The late John Lennon was not far off the mark: “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

Does that mean planning is a wasted exercise?

I don’t know whether Lennon lived by that quote or was just making an observation.

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Gold medal sponsorship

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Make it last longer and matter more

Sponsorship chews up a lot of dollars. The London Olympic Committee raised around one billion dollars for the 2012 event. All the big global names were there – Pepsi, Samsung, MacDonald’s – but so were domestic brands and smaller firms, even local businesses.

The principles of sponsorship apply at all levels. For large corporations, it’s a given. It extends name identification and keeps a brand entrenched. Research suggest that firms engaged in sponsorship grow net income more quickly than those who don’t.

It also boosts valuation. The value of brands like Coke, IBM or Microsoft is estimated to be in excess of $60 billion.

Is it a game worth playing?

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