This month's issue: Discovering your best practices.
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Simple. Powerful. Elegant.

A Newsletter from Creative Ventures

Issue #126

 
Big News

 
For the past 30 days, hotel rooms have been home.  We have had the opportunity to launch new strategies for over half a dozen clients in over ten cities.  Each one is a chance for a new idea to create impact,  each one a chance for change.  Though tiring, the adrenaline surge of an idea gaining traction tends to wipe out the road-weary aspects of what we do.
 
We have increased our newsletter subscription base by over 600 people in a single month!  We have an incredibly high open rate and the advent of our Over Coffee videos has generated a big flow of email comments.  We love the interaction.
 
I have finished Chapter 20 of the upcoming Repeatable Successful Acts (this will not be the final name) book.  We are so excited about the 9/2017 release date when our data on the power behaviors of million dollar sales people will be available to everyone!



Here is the latest OVER COFFEE VIDEO on the art of Thoughtful Reduction.
 


The Idea


 



"An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching." 


- Mahatma Gandhi


External markets and global economic shifts give a sense of core business principles spinning in uncontrolled loops, but even in chaos, key strategies --the right strategies-- yield great results.
 
Colin and I sat in the beautiful glass enclosed conference room of a client considering engaging in our Repeatable Successful Acts sales strategic platform.  They wanted access to the power behaviors of great producers we identified in a study that took over two years.  What were the best salespeople doing?  Can we do some of the same things and bump our sales success upward?  As the conversation progressed, Colin recognized that the client not only had an interest in the RSA platform but, that there was also a ton of leverage lying fallow in the “best practices” of their existing sales force.
 
The idea of best practices revolves around leverage. Think about it: where does a lasting competitive advantage come from?  Not surprisingly, it’s found in leveraging your capabilities.   Is there weight, clout, and influence around what we do really well, and if articulated, could you get more people doing it?  It sounds simple.  Strangely enough, most companies struggle with this as a strategy.  They host what appear to be best practice meetings that rapidly devolve into sales people telling success stories.  That’s interesting, but hardly strategic.  Does anyone capture the stories?  Do they discover the actionable items existing outside of individual personality traits?  Do they implement these best practices in the systemic sales process?  Hardly ever.  The meeting becomes simply a story time session. 
 


Best practices are all about the combination of two distinct parts:  discovering the things that really work, and their subsequent application.   These best practices are usually found in two places, the industry itself and the internal practices of your company.  The industry gives broad-based ideas, and the internal gives you more culturally significant habits.  Both of these contain a staggering amount for applying the idea of leverage.  The most critical part of these influences is that they exist. They are right there for you.  They have a track record of success and thus limit the risk of something entirely new.  This means they have a huge chance of maximizing your success, therefore putting them in what should be a high position in your strategic hierarchy. 

 Alan Murray began his journey as a journalist when he was nine years old and started his neighborhood newspaper.  He was recently named Chief Content Officer of Time Inc.  With this position, he was made the head honcho of the editors of 20 different magazines at a time when the death knell of print is ringing loudly.  One of his first discoveries was that most of the publications operated in their very specific content silos.  “We didn’t do any best practices sharing or discovery.  We didn’t have many opportunities to learn from each other.”  The discovery of best practices leaped out to Alan as a primary strategy.
 
Seems obvious, doesn’t it?  We have had the chance to apply our RSA process to a number of our clients to identify key best practice behaviors.  Each time the strategy has yielded results. 
 
There are lots of avenues of best practices, from the use of technology to the latest tracking programs, but what really drives the idea is having a system to answer, “What the hell are the successful people doing, and can I do it too?” 
 
This will get you started:


 

 

Do This!

                                               



WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?: 
To be successful in a best practices discovery project you have to know what you are looking for.  You don’t just say, “I’m looking for a car” when you go to buy a new ride. You have to be a lot more specific to find the car you will drive off the lot.   You have to know what will create traction and impact if discovered.  Are you looking for sales behaviors?  Are you looking for leadership practices?  Are you looking for communication strategies?  By identifying a specific target instead of firing a shotgun at the issue you will be able to hit an action plan the will yield results. It’s critical that you spend time here.  You would be shocked at the number of best practices projects we have been involved with where the client really didn’t know what they were looking for.  Be disciplined in your discovery process.  It opens the door to success.




BUILD A TOOL: Now that you know what you’re looking for, you have to build the right tool to find it.  It’s hard to build a house if you choose a mackerel as your tool.  Are you looking for objective information?  If so, build an objective tool that gives you numbers that connect to the value you are looking for.  Are you looking for key behaviors?  If so, build a tool where the participant can “tell you” what they are doing.  Once you get either your numbers or your stories, you need to find the patterns that dictate outcome.  This is a critical part of best practices.  How does something become “best?”  It’s easily repeatable, and in order to be repeatable, it has to be the result of patterns.  Knowing what you’re looking for leads to the development of your tool.




A LITTLE SALT IS ALL THAT'S NEEDED: In our happy little scenario you’ve done part I and part II with the aplomb of a best practice discovery expert.  Now you are in the “What do I do with this?” phase.  You will be tempted to start applying all the great new leverage you have discovered.   You will think if all of your teams can start adding this to the way they do business, the heights that you will reach will be Everest-like.  STOP.  It’s not about all of the ideas: it’s about the right ideas.  The key will be to start the application process small, so that your well-oiled sales or business machine can still do its thing while you wisely simultaneously add the great new stuff.  Choose wisely and the engagement level will be large.
 


News





HULU, WHO KNEW YOU HAD IT IN YOU?: 
Hulu has based its value proposition on understanding the needs and wants of its clients and providing an experience that is constantly evolving to meet those needs and wants. Well, they’re at it again. Following the growing trend of cord cutters, Hulu has decided to help those holding out from doing so--due to a reliance on live TV and SPORTS--by changing the game again. Hulu Live will launch soon, offering up to 80 channels of live TV and sports for the low price of $35 a month, plus premium channel add-ons like HBO and Showtime for a reasonable surcharge. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more and more people severing their relationship with big cable companies with this news. Finally, a reasonable price for a reasonable number of channels. No more searching through 12,000 channels for the ten channels you actually watch.
                   
 

GOOD MORNING VIETNAM!: 
A round of applause for this small Asian nation, please. Since 1990, Vietnam has posted a 6% annual growth in GDP, and, in the first six months of this year alone, Vietnam raised $11.3 billion in foreign investment. On top of a strengthening economy and advantageous geography (sharing a border with China), Vietnam spends 21% of its GDP on education, leading to smarter kids, outpacing the US and the UK in math, science, and reading. With all  this good news, there are still some rough waters on the horizon. This poor country is being upgraded to middle-income status by the World Bank, which will take away some momentum from their growth by removing investment incentives. This could slow things down, but with a young (average age of 30.6), educated, and optimistic workforce the future sure looks bright for Vietnam.



"WHO RUN THE WORLD? GIRLS!": 
As Kevin O’Leary (Shark Tank) and Carla Harris (NWBC Chairperson) will tell you, if you’re not investing in female and female minority-owned businesses you’re missing out on some serious opportunities (Check out her research from 2015). Point and case, Forerunner Ventures. This female-only venture capital firm is carving out a strong spot for themselves at the big boys’ table, becoming one of the most forward-thinking investment firms in e-commerce. With companies like Warby Parker, Dollar Shave Club, Jet.com, Birchbox, and Bonobos in their portfolio they have already proven that they have the chops and insight to take advantage of the changing retail scene. As e-commerce continues to rise and brick and mortar stores continue to struggle in the digital age, this exciting company is worth keeping an eye on.

 
 

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