Archive for August, 2011

Waves of Change in the Music Industry – a shift happens case study

One of our many favourite pastimes is to listen to our favourite music.

The industry started out with records or LPs using gramophones, transistioned through 8 track and cassette tapes, moved on to CDs before the digital music revolution took hold.

Waves of change can be seen from the 1980 to 2010.

Music Industry Market Share

Observe how each new innovation made the last one redundant.  Observe how the shapes of the curves are quite similar. Observe how the cassette tape was an interim solution for portable music as the CD was emerging just a couple of years after the cassette had been commercialised. (Source

The lesson for all of us is to not rest on our laurels.  Shift happens all the time, innovation is ever evolving and a status quo strategy will not provide superior returns over longer periods of time.

What shifts are coming in your industry?



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6 Pillars of Success – make sure they exist or can be acquired before signing off your next plan.

Every business needs to check that they have or can obtain the six fundamental pillars of success.

1. Markets and Customers  – it should be obvious but if we don’t have sufficient demand for our product or service versus our costs of production then we are going out backwards!  Don’t underestimate the need to keep your customers happy, nor that markets can rapidly change.  And just because you think there is a market for you new product doesn’t ensure success.  Be sure to test your assumptions carefully before launching into a new market.

2. Products and Services – OK so you think the market conditions are good and you have developed a product or service that is either currently in demand or going to wow your market.  Two perfect ingredients if your assumptions are proven correct.

3. Resources and Structure – do you have the resources to efficiently and effectively deliver the key activities that go to make up your value proposition?  Do you have your organisation structured to acquire and leverage all the inputs and to deliver your product to market?

4. Culture – the only true differentiator from your competitors.  Build it, nuture it and expose your customers to it.  No one can buy or copy your culture.

5. Processes – are much overlooked when developing and delivering good plans.  Many good ideas fail because of poorly developed processes.  How many of us have sat on the phone waiting for a call centre to answer only to be handed off somewhere else when you finally get through?

6. Technology – it should go without saying in this day of on line customer interactions and fast value creation and delivery that excellent supporting technology is needed to keep the business humming along.  It is certainly needed to provide great marketing tools, support key activities and help deliver exceptional customer service.  Technology is often one of your key resources as well, eg a CRM system for a sales force for example.

When developing new plans do a reality check to make sure you can acquire the 6 pillars of success.  I regularly do this when facilitating planning workshops.  It is amazing how many good ideas fall over when this reality test is applied!

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Shift Happens

It is often said that the best time to plan is when you least need to.  I am sure that those companies who have seen rapid changes in their operating enviroment wished they had looked at the strategic options when the going was good rather than when the rapid shifts came into play.  Nokia for example falling from the big growth mobile phone supplier to the big loser in mobile communications, cd manufacturers not anticipating the advent of the on line media revoulution and the ipod’s spectacular rise.

Organisations need to be vigilant, scanning the horizon for the inevitable shifts, adapting and innovating their business model to ensure they are the masters of changes in their own environments.

When you reflect on shifts you should look at a wide range of possible mechanisms and and sources for shifts.  For example:

  • new products or services that are emerging or material changes to existing offerings; eg on line entertainment
  • market changes, customer demands, segment shifts.  eg McDonalds and the move to healthy meals
  • techology shifts. eg mobile devices and applications
  • new channels. eg the move to on line retailing
  • competitor behaviour.  eg Sykpe versus traditional telcos
  • regulatory changes. eg the cancellation of solar system installation rebates to home owners
  • supplier changes.
  • collaborator or partnership shifts.

And there are lots more.  So continually analyse your ecosystem, seek input from your partners, suppliers, customers and regulators.   Do senario analysis and prepare your organisation, team or group for the inevitable shifts that are coming.

At least then when the tsunami hits you will be better prepared.  What potential shifts can you see on your horizon?

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Highly Effective Plans

You can now download my short paper on developing and implementing highly effective plans.  The paper applies equally to strategic, business or operational plans.  It can be adopted for issues management or formal planning activities.

The paper highlights eleven items that you need to ensure exists to deliver highly effective plans and undertake highly effective planning.

It summarises the key activities and highlights the need to bring the right people together in a collaborative framework. It also empahsises the need for good governance and communications to make plans work.

Experience has shown over and over again that adopting the right methodology can deliver superior results, whether it is for a government agency, private business or a not-for-profit.

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