enterprise planning

Feb 2, 2017

Forge A Business Ecosystem

The days of the self-sufficient and self-sustaining business are long gone. Business owners must recognize the need to join forces with other businesses in order to flourish.

Here is simple assumption for you to get your head around: Businesses will always seek to establish new types of partner relationships that clearly define mutual gain for the parties involved. Fairly straight-forward, right?

Of course it is! And, it’s because of this hypothesis that businesses of all sorts and sizes are forging new commercial arrangements with one another. As a result, immense networks of interdependent parties have emerged. In turn, each one of these forms unique ecosystems from which all of the member businesses benefit.

With the continual advancement of technology making inter-business bonding easier, you can be sure that the evolution of these New Economy Ecosystems will continue. That said, as a business owner you’ll need to see how and where you can fit. Here’s why:

Rationale for Ecosystem-Building

The game has changed. The days of the self-sufficient and self-sustaining businesses are long gone. The global marketplace requires businesses to establish highly integrated and cooperative relationships with one another. It rewards speed and flexibility.

Consequently, new inter-company relationships continue to be established in order to help firms respond to changes in their respective markets.

Businesses cannot afford to be an exception. Ecosystems seek to forge new types of relationships with their members that provide economies of scale and greater reach than can be achieved by any single entity on its own. Indeed, joining and contributing to larger ecosystems is essential to survival – especially for smaller businesses.

However, there are several implications that must be considered, including:

1. New strategies will need to be created that can leverage the opportunities that ecosystem participation offers.

2. Similarly, innovation will be a key driver for flourishing within one’s ecosystem. Thus, new ways of thinking and doing will need to be considered and implemented as opportunities to introduce new products and services emerge faster than ever before.

3. As a result, speed counts! Therefore, steps will need to be continually taken within every business to become more agile in order to keep up with the demands of ecosystem partners and their customers.

4. Businesses will have to work with a larger industry community, including competitors, in order to establish new kinds of business arrangements that work within the ecosystem. Exposure of one’s competitive strategies and protection of associated trade secrets will continue to be huge considerations when seeking advantages from ecosystem membership.

5. Existing contracts and agreements may need to be embellished and new rules created, in order to better support the re-definition of attendant business relationships.

6. Lower-level business managers must be on the “look-out” and be prepared to explore new ways of defining their firm’s relationships with the providers that they work with – continuing to be keenly aware of new opportunities to leverage existing partner relationships in novel ways to drive advantage.

7. Front-line staff will need to be trained in contract administration in order to better manage the business relationships that they are responsible for maintaining on behalf of their companies

There is no doubt that, as the new economy continues to evolve, it is imperative for business leaders, regardless of size, to actively seek-out opportunities to participate in broadening their reach and capabilities through participation in business ecosystems. They must recognize the need to join forces in a larger community of players to remain vital and prosperous in the years ahead.

To close, this article only touches the tip of the iceberg regarding business ecosystems. So, please feel free to continue to drive the discussion by offering your ideas and comments below or reach-out directly to me. It’s an important topic that deserves more attention.

NOTE: My Favorite Website Lately: TrikeJournal.com

Aug 25, 2014

The keys to strategic differentiation – Becoming “Of Choice”

The keys to strategic differentiation – Becoming “Of Choice” is the subject of my latest piece in Management Issues Magazine.  Check it out here:

The keys to strategic differentiation – Management Issues keys

Please be sure to share, follow and RT!

Thanks for reading…

Jul 17, 2014

Tips from the Entrepreneur’s Bookshelf

Tips from the Entrepreneur’s Bookshelf:

The Executive Checklist is featured in the list.

If you have a chance, be sure to check it out!

May 5, 2014

Leadership Tips For the “New Normal” Economy

Gain insight from these Leadership Tips For the “New Normal” Economy from a recent guest post on:

IAC Blog Site

This International Association of Coaching piece offers some insights into how The Executive Checklist can help executive coaching counsel their clients.

I hope that you can use these ideas, too!


Dec 3, 2013

It’s All About Focus…

Superior companies seem to have the capacity to stay in the moment and remain focused even when bombarded by immeasurable distractions incessantly hurled from an ever changing and dynamic business world.

The best management teams have the uncanny ability to not become distracted by the next “big thing”. Rather, they remain steadfast in their pursuit of their strategies and stay ever vigilant in the implementation of those things that will distinguish them within their chosen markets.

As senior leaders, we need to forge a work environment that allows our firms to stay in the moment. This enables us to make appropriate mid-course adjustments and involves the coordination, review and resetting/reconfirmation of the firm’s projects and programs, ensuring:

  • Executive management review and ownership of the Strategic Plan;
  • The existence of an effective means for the business to articulate new strategic initiatives;
  • The “spearheading” of appropriate changes to existing strategic project/programs plans; and,
  • The proper prioritization of newly defined and sanctioned work efforts.

Sure, it’s EZ to get distracted. management teams abandon their game plans and begin to blindly chase the promise of those shiny objects in the corner all the time! But, when they do, they find that the distraction caused their organizations to lose ground and squander precious assets.

To close, sustainable success can only be achieved by staying focused and following through in the implementation of the strategies that will differentiate the winners from the “also-ran’s”.

Jul 14, 2013

Principles Before Personalities, People!

Here’s my latest article:


As a strategist and organizational behaviorist, I have had the opportunity to work through many large-scale reorganization efforts with a myriad of senior leadership teams. As one might expect, the discussions related to such work often becomes heated. These exchanges turn personal very quickly when someone perceives that their loss is another colleague’s gain. The article provides some thoughts about what to do about it.

Hope you enjoy — and, please, pass it along!

Jun 27, 2013

Beware of the Ghosts in the Machine

Driving the types of significant changes that truly transform an organization is tricky business. Contrary to popular belief, if you’re too conservative, you can end up with some unexpected consequences – that’s the theory of emergence at work.

At the heart of emergence theory, prominent in such fields of study as artificial intelligence, climate modeling and smart grid energy distribution, lies the thought that complex behavior can emerge from the congregation of elements that are not found in the individual elements themselves – meaning any subtle change can bring about an unanticipated outcome from ghosts in the machine.

Don’t forget to Order my latest book.

May 13, 2013

The Belichick Principle: “Do Your Job”

The opening clip of Showtime’s Inside the NFL includes a snippet of Bill Belichick clapping his hands and saying to his players, “Do your job.” It is quite telling.

Bill Belichick has been the head coach of the NFL’s New England Patriots football team since 2000. He is one of the “winningest” coaches in the history of the game. In his tenure, the Patriots have:

  • Appeared in 5 Super Bowl games;
  • Produced 8 division titles, including five consecutive titles from 2003 to 2007;
  • Earned a 17–7 record in the playoffs;
  • Achieved a win / loss record of 139–53–0;
  • Enjoyed a winning percentage of over 72%; and;
  • Won 3 Super Bowl Championships;

Belichick is certainly headed to enshrinement in the National Football League’s Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

What is the secret to Belichick’s winning ways? It is difficult to pinpoint a lone characteristic that separates him from his fellow head coaches. However, it is clear that he has adopted one very simple management principle that he continues to apply to this day. It is “Do your job.”

The words are memorialized on a placard hanging just outside of the player’s entrance at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots home field located in Foxborough, Massachusetts. There is much implied in those three simple words, including being prepared, paying attention to detail, working hard, and putting the team ahead of yourself.

It also points to the need for the head coach to ensure that every member of his coaching staff and football team understand what their job is and that they prepare every day to execute it. In the words of Nick Saban, a Belichick protégé and the University of Alabama’s head football coach:

“Everybody says, ‘Be accountable,’ but sometimes nobody ever tells you exactly what the expectation is,” Saban says. “Bill was good at defining what he expected from everybody, and everybody buying in. Then the team had a chance to flourish because of it.”

Belichick stresses his principle because he believes when everyone is doing their job, the team wins championships. So, he is very careful to clearly define the expectations for every employee in his organization. We should do the same. It is the only way to position staff to assume the responsibility for delivering on desired outcomes.

There is no bigger desired outcome in the NFL than winning the Lombardi Trophy (awarded every year to the team that wins the Super Bowl) – Belichick and team have won three of them.

Jun 21, 2012

Strategic Planning Administration — Tip #5 From The Best Practices Enterprise Book

The first step in the Strategic Planning Administration process is to establish the position of Strategic Planning Administrator. The position will report to the Executive Steering Committee (ESC).

While the Strategic Planning Administrator position is responsible for the administration of the Strategic Plan, it is also charged with the delivery of project management services to each of the initiatives that is staffed and funded by the enterprise. This is done by overseeing the coordination of the projects defined in the firm’s Strategic Plan Document.

This function will employ such devices as bi-weekly meetings with project managers as well as monthly reviews with the executive steering committee in order to ensure that the strategic initiatives are evolving as planned.

Down the road, as projects begin to evolve and provide early deliverables, the Administrator must conduct a general assessment of all of the active projects and programs to see if, in fact, the projects are being implemented in compliance with the overall Strategic Plan.

This is done by mapping project progress against the implementation plans as well as asking some hard questions like:

• Is the strategic vision still valid? Should any of its themes be modified? Which ones and why? What has changed?

• What are the benefits reaped from changing the implementation plans? Are there any cost savings, value-added benefits, or softer, long-term intangible benefits?

• Have operating procedures and standards been materially implemented in the organization? How far along the standards road have we traveled thus far? How far, given this “process check,” do we have yet to go? Have we gleaned 80% of the benefit already, or is there still payoff down the road?

• Has the enterprise recognized any benefit from the work achieved?

• Given the current state of implementation, have any other benefits been obtained that may not have been originally predicted?

• In general, do the plans and their delivery schedules appear to be changing? If so, why?

• Have any initiatives, targeted as important, not yet matured as much as originally anticipated? Why? How will they be put back on track?

• What is the status of the technology/systems that were required for implementation? Is it “on time”? Is it at acceptable quality?

As these questions have been answered, adjustments to the original plans should be made (e.g., if a given project is not proceeding as originally scheduled, specific steps will have to be developed to produce “workarounds,” etc.) and communicated to the ESC.

In this way, the discipline and rigor introduced by the Strategic Planning Administration process, as described here, will yield the desired results as the organization transitions into the future.

This is one tip from my most recent book. I hope that you found it useful. Please email / call if you want to explore some of the strategic planning and administration strategies that I have helped my clients institutionalize over the years…I can help you, too.

May 23, 2012

So, What Are We Going To Do About It?

Right Management, a subsidiary of the ManpowerGroup, ran an online survey of workers in the U.S. and Canada between last month . Nearly two-thirds of respondents, said they were not happy at work. In fact, 44% said they were completely “unsatisfied.”

Wow! As leaders, this is on us. So, what are we going to do about it?

As I’ve written about so much in the past, great leaders transform. They not only revitalize the organizations that they work in, but, they rejuvenate the people that they work with. The most preeminent leaders convey a very strong sense of being “in it together” among the people that they lead. That’s not to say that they actually do the work for their teams – to do so would suggest a lack of trust and cause dissention among the ranks. Rather, exceptional leaders enable success through steady direction-setting, determined coaching and unvarying communication.

It’s time to step up to the plate and lead — provide meaningful challenges and create an environment that helps to give people a sense of accomplishment. With the proper care and nurturing, we can turn this morale problem around. We just need to stop taking our positions for granted and begin to be more deliberate and focused about our leadership.

Call if you want to explore some of the employee engagement strategies that I have developed with my clients over the years…One of them may be right for you.

Copyright 2019 James M. Kerr       info@executive‑checklist.com       860‑301‑2085