7 question framework

1. Who is your major customer ?  The answer to this question is key to understanding your market segment – your bread and butter category.  Getting this answer wrong is where most startups falter.  You cannot be everything to everyone ( though most folks try very hard ) . Even the behemoths fall at this.  Focus on the segment where your product or service makes the most revenue ( a direct indication of  where it is really needed and wanted ) .

2. Core values :  Who comes first ? Shareholders for some firms.  Customers for other firms.  Yet other firms choose employee satisfaction over the former two.  Make it a core value and stick to it.  Capitulating on this can lead to confusion at all organization levels.

3.  KPI’s :   Metrics – we all love it.   We use it as a weapon to further our agendas. Let’s slice it this way and dice it that way.  Do we really need so many metrics ?   Innovation will be stunted if too many metrics are used.   A right balance has to be reached between performance metrics and  true successful productivity.

4.  Goal and their boundaries :  Investing in “structured investments” and “low-documentation mortgage loans” was  prohibited at Wells Fargo during the CDS disaster of 2008-2009-ongoing.   Set limitations to the “strategic”  extents that management wants to test the waters.  Be specific  in the direction.

5.  Creativity and innovation :  Teams should be encouraged to constantly innovate either in business processes or technological services and products.   Competition brings the best out in everyone and organizations are no different.   Create or die.

6. Employee buddies :  Do employees really want to work with each other ?  Are they helping each other reach their individual goals and objectives.  Many firms foster intense rivalry and competition to the point of  childish hatefulness.  Long term prospects of such firms are limited – employees leave.

7.  Do you sleep well at all ?  Strategy is trying to understand the future.   What bottom line numbers do immediately point you to upcoming failure ? Do you stop and take a deeper look ?  Constantly monitoring your models to ensure staying on track is a direct indication of success.  Let it slip and recovery takes months if not years.

Reference  ; Robert Simons : Stress-Test your strategy; The 7 questions to ask.

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