People often ask me what I’m doing at work. If I want to get rid of them, I start to talk about what I’m doing. I do meetings, phone calls, and interviews. They quickly get bored and turn to another conversation. If I want to get their attention, I tell them that I get kids to college who don’t have English as a home language. That’s what I’m really doing. And that is dramatic and meaningful.
The most important part of Strategic Planning is to decide what service or product you are really offering. The risk of failure jumps when you divorce the purpose of your product or service and only think about manufacturing / service activities.
I bought a GE dishwasher. Dishwashers last so long that I decided to go towards the top end. This machine offers a normal cycle, a cooking pans cycle, and an antibacterial cycle.
How could I go wrong? I assumed that the dishes would come out clean but it doesn’t wash dishes very well.
Now I have to rinse all the dishes and scrape the plates in the sink with a scrubber, load the dishwasher after I’ve run the water to get it as hot as possible, and then the dishwasher works. That’s not really what I expected.
It turns out that I don’t want a dishwasher. I want clean dishes. My Aunt Ina cleaned her own dishes with a rag and drip dried them. Bloomberg hires a maid to clean dishes but I’m cheap and want a machine. Bloomberg and I and my Aunt Ina all have the same need even after 60 years and with very different states of wealth.
We want clean dishes.
So let’s practice
A restaurant makes meals. McDonalds says that you deserve a break today
Detroit makes cars. Hummer gives self respect to pathetic wimps
You’re selling bracelets Tiffany says that memories start here
Churches hold services Marble Collegiate inspires a second chance
Schools teach children My school gives tools to struggle and win
How to create your purpose
The purpose statement has to include 3 elements. (Carver)
- Who is it for?
- What result will people expect?
- At what cost for highest value ?
Who is your market? That may take some work to decide but it’s an easy idea to understand. If you want to sell Hummers, don’t include me in your market. Your market should also exclude some people who want to be in your market. For example, we all like Southwest Airlines prices, but most of us would like free snacks and free checked baggage. Southwest decided to focus on customers who only cared about price. They cut out the free chip lovers.
What result? Don’t decide this too quickly because people have a lot of hidden desires. My grandfather bought Buicks to show he was a working man who turned professional and succeeded. He would never give that reason if you asked him. He always said that the Buick was the most reliable car. I think Buick would be a larger brand today if they understood my grandfather J
Manfred Max-Neef made a chart of 36 basic human needs. Make sure that your product or service is carefully grounded. Some group of people in the market must want it and benefit or you will not succeed.
At what cost and value? Start with the value. You need to be the best for the market group and result that you have already identified. For example, if you’re going to include my grandfather in your market, then you want to make a car that shouts success better than Buick.
Your problem may be that you don’t even have enough money to make a Buick
In this example, you keep working on the equation until you realize that there is a senior housing nearby where people no longer drive. You do have enough money to make a stately carriage called Sundays that stops at each senior center and takes elderly non driving people in style to the mall. They get a free soda as they enter the car. Your market is people who need to feel that they are a life success. Your method is semi public transportation with frills. And people value it enough to pay $20 for one ride and that covers your costs.
Don’t stop working on this equation until your product or service is the best for the market you want at the right cost and value.
Your biggest enemy is to try to be all things to all people. This is pernicious in non profits. It is far better to limit your market and have incredible success than to reach to everyone with a service of such poor quality that no one wants.
Strategic Planning always starts at the most basic level. If you have been in business for a while, you need to repeat this exercise to make sure that you still have a good plan.
You need to identify the market you will serve (and the markets you ignore), the results that your market of people will receive from your work, and the highest value at a cost you can afford. Then start manufacturing for success!
Marry what you’re doing with what you’re really doing. You will focus on the results and activities together. And that will keep you in business for a long time.
Which you like because the result for you is that you always wanted to feel like a success!
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Max-Neef, Manfred. “Human Ecology: Following Nature’s Lead.” Ecological Economics 48.4 (2004): 490-92. Web.
Carver, John, and Miriam Mayhew. Carver. The Policy Governance Model and the Role of the Board Member: A Carver Policy Governance Guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009. Print.
The Divorce Between Two Partners – What You’re Doing and What You’re Really Doing