Creative Ventures Newsletter
Volume #97 - March 2014

The first quarter of almost any business year is filled with hectic activity, and though it doesn’t always guarantee success for the rest of the year, it is often a great bellwether.  The idea is to keep momentum moving, to find ways to capture and extend energy.

February followed the usual “busy formula” for us.  Here are just a few highlights:

NEW PROGRAMS:  We were engaged to design custom programs for two clients around both creating advocates and shifting sales models from transactional to advisory.  Both concepts have huge impact for many of our other clients’ sales platforms, and the ideas have created momentum for these strategies among many of our clients.

COLIN:  My right hand Colin has had a laser-like focus on one of our new platforms, THE MILLENNIAL UPSIDE, a distinctive strategy around this critical new wave of the workforce, and he presented his ideas to a new group in February.  If you’re interested in our strategy, send Colin a note and he will send you the new summary newsletter and schedule his time to work with you.

CONSULTING:  We have a heavy consulting schedule as ideas we designed for clients in 2013 are now in the application phase.  From story-based communication strategies to developing new value added services, we have been busy with in-depth DOING!

EDUCATION:  The explosion in companies putting resources into new methods of communication has our ONCE UPON A TIME PROJECT about crafting and telling story in high demand, and our other communication platforms are filling the calendar.

So the air miles pile up and the challenges keep our brains in gear.  Thanks for all of your support!

By the way, the “2013 Top 10 and Bottom 5 Movie List” is ready to go.  If you want a copy, send me an email and I will get it to you.


Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.

-Albert Einstein

The first part of any year we spend a lot of time in the “launch” phase of strategies and initiatives we designed for our clients at the end of the previous year.  The first quarter becomes the time to make an idea real, to create a new avenue of potential, to create VALUE!

It was in the first century BC when the first evidence of attacking an issue or problem by asking the classic five questions  (Who, What, Where, When, and Why?) first appeared, but it was the author and poet Rudyard Kipling who in 1902 cemented them as the 5 W’s, and by 1917 it was being taught in almost every school.

The 5 W’s (often with “how” snuck in) has provided a solid and successful way to approach thinking.  In recent times the WHY has been isolated as the driving force of the five and has been emphasized in planning (Sineks’ good read, Start With Why), but in our planning, especially around creating and extending value, we begin with WHERE.

Let’s start with a strategic look at the top 20% of your client base (see February 2014 newsletter) and define a dual-perspective approach:

  • What aspects, beyond core product or services, do YOU believe your clients find of the highest value?
  • What aspects, beyond core product or services, do your CLIENTS actually find of the highest value?

This involves an internal and external data gathering process that generates key data.  It’s something you should add to your regular operational information matrix.  These two perspectives are often not in sync with how you deliver value.   This information provides a huge help and significant leverage in your resource allocations.

The next step is to ask WHERE do our clients need the most help?  Is it in growing their business, is it in building their professional skill sets, is it in keeping on top of cutting edge concepts and industry shifts?  You have to understand your clients WHERE.

Next is the architecture of great strategic planning, connecting hard core data to a creative need through strong thinking models.  Where can you increase your value to your top customers in ways that attack the heart of their need, their WHERE!

Imagine the power of finding an idea connected by an approach aimed at the bull’s eye of where your clients need the most help.  This simple process can create golden opportunities to expand your impact with your top clients and will provide a waterfall of new ideas for the rest of your client base.

This simple three-part strategy is the core of our philosophy around value-add initiatives.  It drives our thinking and approach to an aspect of creating value and is worthy of a company’s resources and thinking capital.


SMALL IS BIG:  The Marriott company has about 3,900 properties in 72 countries and is the home of 18 brands.  In a strategic effort to combat the dreaded “product of our parents’ generation” syndrome, Marriott is doing a few things, small but significant things that have a singular focus: make us relevant.  They’ve spent almost $1 billion to reinvent their lobbies, and they have created more places to watch the game, grab a bite, and work on laptops.  They spent over $5 million on research and ideas to make the travel experience easier.  All of these fit a specific strategic plan, one that will transform their brand.


A TOUGH BET:   Every year one of my favorite monthly reads, Fast Company magazine, does a fantastic job with their list of the world’s 50 most innovative companies, and it would appear to be a safe bet to put your money where their research is; however, strangely enough, that would be a bad bet.  Fast Company has discovered innovation is episodic and transitory.  Ideas have a life span and often lose their edge over time.  Innovation ebbs and flows.  It pays to devote resources to the development of new ideas and the concept of transformation to existing ideas.    Great ideas captivate us, but turning them into business results means putting money into the process…and pulling the plug when it’s time.


THE LEVERAGE OF GREEN:  Sure, there’s the huge NYC parade and the dyeing of the Chicago River green, but St. Patrick’s Day is really ushered in by a variety of products focused on the celebration: McDonald’s mint- flavored shake, Bruegger’s green bagels, TGI Fridays Irish Ritas,  Mint Oreo (mmmm) doughnuts at Dunkin' Donuts, and, of course, green beer everywhere.  These “tips of the hat” to our day of green are big money makers and have stood the test of time.  The McDonald’s green shake has been around since 1970!  This is leverage at its finest.  It doesn’t take much to make something green, and the payoff is due to more than the luck of the Irish!

Interested in these ideas?

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Office: 512-712-5279

Steve Harvill • • Cell: 972-345-9480
Colin Harvill • • Cell: 214-794-1777