Creative Ventures Newsletter
Volume #93 - November 2013
What a great month we had in October.  Here are a few details:
STRATEGIC PLANNING:  October is our strategic planning month for the upcoming year.  Colin came down to the Austin office and in a couple of intense days we put together our plan for 2014.  New ideas and fresh applications provided us key planning points.  We have a focus on three specific areas:

  • Strategic Platform:  With new platforms gaining momentum and our updated existing platforms creating return business, we will keep a strong concentration on our core ideas.
  • New Media:  2014 will debut new media platforms built around a podcast and video series.  We will continue to strengthen our new multimedia templates to introduce our strategies in new markets.
  • Systemic Approaches:  We will be taking a very strong systemic approach based on the implementation of new strategies around increasing our visibility, creating specific value programs, and expanding our lines of business.
The Beyond Series:  We had the honor of launching Part III of our four-part Beyond Series for one of our favorite clients.  This series is designed to introduce applicable ideas that are happen OUTSIDE the clients specific area of business.
Repeatable Successful Acts (RSA):  We gave one of the first newly updated RSA presentations in which we introduced six new RSA’s, the first time we have shared our buyers’ behavioral patterns and the merging of producer and buyer RSA’s to form SUPER RSA’s.
November will bring additional RSA programs and consulting work on a couple of our clients’ strategic planning processes.  We will be recording the first podcast and video segments for the series we’re calling The Brain Jolt: Ideas in a Nutshell.

Strategy is a pattern in a stream of conscious decisions.

-Henry Mintzberg

It’s that time of year.  Leaves are changing colors, mornings are crisp, and the hint of winter is just around the corner.  Yep, it’s that time of year, the time for all businesses to begin planning for a new year.  Most of you are already deep into the heart of this fundamental annual process.

The idea of business strategic planning as a valid process really began in the 1920’s as a method of dealing with unpredictable business cycles.  In the 1950’s strategic planning experienced a huge shift and morphed into a short-term budgeting exercise.  It was all about numbers and not about planning around goals that moved the business forward.  It was a protective exercise.  In the 1960’s strategic planning became a long- range exercise that invariably produced huge three ring binders holding 10 year plans based on SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunities and threats) models, game theory, and scenario building.
Now, strategic planning can mean anything.  Most of my clients define this time of year in 1950’s terminology.  They say, “We are in our budget development cycle,” “It’s budget time,” or “We’re crunching numbers for 2014.”  These descriptions are devoid of strategic focus.  They are a step backwards.

How do budgets alone handle the nature of competition, the speed of change in business models, the desire to create client-based value, or the development of the separation needed to differentiate your company in a commoditized world?  I’m not espousing the elimination of budget planning.  No, budgets are critical tools…but they need to feed and support strategy and vision.
So what is the focus of good strategic planning?  It centers on a three core points:

  • Current Reality:  The ability to define accurately the TRUTH of any issue as it actually exists right now.
  • Control Leverage:  Identify the points of a strategic focus we actually can control.
  • A Simple Future-based Vision:  Strategy is future-oriented.
Here are a couple of control leverage points that we believe should always, without fail, be part of any strategic discussion:


  • The client experience:  No matter what happens in the business climate, you always have control over this critical aspect of your company.  The client experience defines your “value” statement and should be a serious part of your strategic planning.  The client experience separates and creates differentiation in the market and develops loyalty and the ability to increase your market share.  What ideas can you implement that capture your clients’ imaginations and create dazzling experiences?
  • Core Team Skill Sets:  Is one of your budget goals to grow sales?  I’ll bet it is.  How do you plan on doing this?  Increase marketing?  Add sales force members?  Acquire other companies?  Add product?  All of these are worthy ideas, but to make a direct impact on sales, make your people better!  Train them.  Improve their interpersonal and presentation skills.  Make them better thinkers.  Define core company information they should be experts in.  Everyone and every company should have a focus on constant employee improvement.

Strategic planning is about a future-based perspective, the desire to get better through asking the right questions.  If you are interested in this approach, give us a call!

THE GREAT PUMPKIN STUFF:  This is the time of year for the rise of pumpkin stuff.  There are lots of players in the pumpkin wars.  From Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte battle with the barrage of pumpkin products coming out of Dunkin Donuts to new players like Kraft’s Pumpkin Marshmallows and M&M’s pumpkin-flavored candies.  But the pumpkin influence doesn’t stop there.  Everyone wants a piece of the pumpkin pie, there are pumpkin-flavored beer and vodka, there are the new pumpkin Pop Tarts, there are even pumpkin-flavored Pringles.  Pumpkin-themed products are up 234% over 2008.  Wow, there is a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!
THE SMART PHONE WARS RAGE ON:  Tired of all the smart phone commercials bombarding your TV viewing?  Why are we still seeing all of them? Doesn’t everyone already have a smart phone?  Nope.  Believe it or not, the market is still huge.  Only slightly more than 50% of Americans have a smart phone.  The war wages on, primarily between Apple and Samsung (they represent 65% of the market), and the stakes continue to be high.  How many potential smart phone buyers remain?  About 95 million, with 20-25 million getting ready to buy in 2014!
HEY, IKEA, PUT THAT TOGETHER:  Easy-to-assemble (unless you are me) furniture maker IKEA is moving on to something a little more challenging than coffee tables and cabinets.  The Swedish company has 26 acres in London where it will be cobbling together an ambitious new town called Strand East.  The community will house up to 6,000 and will include schools, hotels, trendy eateries, and parks.  It will focus on the IKEA mantra, “Create a better everyday life for the many people.”

Interested in these ideas?

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Office: 512-712-5279

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