This is another handy chart form McKinsey. It is very easy to feel like all you can do is cut costs right now, but the truth is, this is a great time to go after new customers if you have some resources.
Jim Collins has offered me no end of simple ways to describe complex issues to my consulting clients. His book are full of solid wisdom. I’m sure his next book will be no different, but for the moment I’m all about this article in the NYT about his methods. Genius – especially his hiring protocol.
Spend more time finding and selecting people. Learn about what makes someone successful in your organization. Get to the point where you can write it down and revise as needed.
90% of management is in the hire.
My favorite business models right now are the ones that really focus on a limited set of operations, chosen for a unique aggregating of external resources. That may be hard to visualize, initially, but this article from the Washington Post describes the phenomenon very well, including how technology has made it all that much more effective and agile.
It is relatively well known that GE, under Jack Welch and otherwise, has institutionalized the practice of outsourcing those operations that are not core to their offering. This changes constantly, based partly on what services are available or the logistics of accessing them or many other factors.
With consumer products, the engaged opinion of consumers should always be part of the product life-cycle. The internet provides nearly infinite opportunity to facilitate opinions from as diverse a consumer base as you wish to contact. There is no longer an excuse not to test market a product, or atleast aspects of a prouct, before burning resources on manufacturing or procurement. I have yet to come upon an example where consumers were engaged for their opinions and it backfired entirely. You may not want to publicize all your internet opinions because, honestly, some people are just crazy. Some demographic groups have crazy opinions that only get more balkanized by the oppurtunity to bash something (mob mentality translates all too well to the internet).
I love when I find a resource that distills a common strategic question down to a few simple calculations. This article on doesn’t quite get to the paint-by-numbers status, but it does lay out a clear set of topics to consider when thinking about your product launch.
Vaporware or surprise attack?
So often your fortunes are dominated by things you cannot control, having a checklist of things that you can clearly make some predictions around should help minimize risks and allow you to make a decision with confidence.
“It’s not a clear-cut situation,” says Wharton marketing professor Jehoshua Eliashberg. “In pre-announcing, a company lets a competitor know what it’s up to. But what matters more is a company’s position in an industry. If a company is a dominant monopolist, it has reason to pre-announce because it doesn’t fear a competitive reaction. If the company is smaller, the negatives of announcing a product early outnumber the positives.”