This month's issue: Tackling your 2017 strategy.
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Simple. Powerful. Elegant.

A Newsletter from Creative Ventures

Issue #127

Big News

Talk about having to catch your breath!  WOW, what a month September was.  We were in seven cities, including five in four days!  Each on a completely different project.  All this equals lots of airports, hotels, car’s and time zones.  One of the most amazing things about the whole month of travel is that every flight, I mean EVERY flight, left on time.  A modern day miracle!


It 's really gratifying to see our strategic ideas gain traction with clients, but more importantly, that these ideas are producing measurable success!  Clients are launching new story strategies based on our Once Upon A Time Project.  By using the principles in our simplicity platform, Elegant Simplicity, they are removing elements from processes that no longer create value.  From The Idea Factory, clients have launched systems to show they value the generation of ideas as a function of future revenue.
Ahh, the book.  I have finished all the “raw” writing.  That includes an intro, 21 chapters, and a conclusion.  Editor extraordinaire, Lauren, will then start shipping edited chapters back my way for review.  With a manuscript of 75,000 words due on 11/15 I think we are looking pretty good.
October has us helping the strategic process for many of our clients (see the title article) as well as having a laser-like focus on the book stuff.
Looking for a special way to celebrate your clients this holiday season?  Give Colin a call and find out how our Why We Love The Movies platform could be the unique and dynamic client/employee appreciation event for you this holiday season.

Here is the latest OVER COFFEE VIDEO on committing to the analog.

The Idea


"Everything I said I'd do
Make the world brand new
And take the time to do
I just got lost and slept right through the dawn
And the world spins madly on. " 

- The Weepies

It’s that time of year again, the mornings are crisp, the leaves have started to change color, and…you begin each day opening an Excel spreadsheet.  Yep, it’s budget and strategic planning time, the time of year when your ability to estimate and project (guess) is on the line.  The good news is you have probably gone through this process before and have a certain level of familiarity with what’s going on.  The bad news is that despite your fluency the entire ordeal is still a huge crapshoot.
First, we have the requirements.  These are the elements that the company requires, things like revenue projects, capital and operating expense needs, product goals, and so on.  Second, we have the great ocean of elective items, strategies that you choose to move on.  So, that’s the stage.  But it’s not only these factors that will dictate the success or failure of your prestidigitations.  One of the huge impact elements is the entire idea and thus a connected process of planning.   Despite all the time and effort placed on the epic practice, we still struggle to get it right.
Handgun maker Smith and Wesson decided that their success would strategically apply to mountain bikes.  WRONG.   Planners at Coors, the Rocky Mountain Beer, thought, “Hey, we’ve got water, so let’s do Coors Mountain Water.  That’s got to work, right?"  WRONG.  Colgate, the makers of 48 different toothpaste varieties, decided it would be a good strategic move to create a line of food products, Colgate Kitchen Entrées.  Work?  Not so much.  In the early 1900’s White Star Lines dominated the ocean shipping business.  They thought their understanding of stuff made a good strategic reason to shift to passenger liners.  They wanted to compete with the giant of the time, Cunard Luxury Ocean Liners.  So was born the construction of the Titanic.
The problem? Well, there’re lots.  First and foremost, we are horrible estimators.  No matter the amount of data we flood our thinking with, we never seem to get close in our estimates.  How far is the restaurant?  Oh, about a 10-minute walk.  Thirty minutes later you are nowhere near dinner.  Try to estimate the cost to revenue benefit of a project and discover you made about a nickel an hour.   We just struggle to put intangibles like time into any meaningful appraisal.
Next, we have a tendency not to involve either the right people or enough people.  We think that the mysterious talent of peering into the future is limited to the elite leadership folks. 

We then create unrealistic goals, goals that sound great and read even better but are disconnected from reality.  To add a cherry on top, we take those goals that share both idealism and impracticality, and we don’t create any accountability around it.  I guess that could be a good thing, since holding someone responsible for something unreasonable isn’t a good strategic formula anyway.
So we print it and shelve it.  In a dynamic world, putting any idea on a shelf is disastrous.  When we do this we fail to value the gap that occurs between the plan and reality.  German military strategist, Helmuth Von Moltke famously reminded us, “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.”
So let’s not approach this critically important idea “the way we have always done it.”



Do This!


When a key strategy follows an up to down trajectory it mistakenly expects those downstream to buy into something they had no part in creating.  The better idea is to involve as many people as possible in the process. You don’t want buy in, you want enrollment.  Create a plan that allows for as many people as possible to submit their ideas around specific avenues.  Develop a screening process that will discover the strong ideas.  Use those for the development of your strategic plan.  Everyone gets to contribute.  Enable your people to say, "My idea may not have been chosen, but it was considered and I got to play."  Think this is a cumbersome idea?  At Creative Ventures, we created a process that involved over 300 people and resulted in the most successful strategic plan our client had ever launched.  It can be done.

I CONTROL THIS: Take a HARD look at those things in your control.  There are three that should be at the top of your plan:
  1. The Client Experience:  You, yes YOU, control this core aspect of your business.  What is it like to do business with you?  Create a map of your existing client experience and look for one thing you can do to lift that experience to a new level.
  2. Your Skills:  How good are you at what you do?  If you think of yourself as always being in a state of becoming, you will be looking for opportunities to get better.  Identify one skill set you want to improve and get going.  Find classes, seminars, readings, and videos to help you bump your skills.
  3. Your Story:  When was the last time you worked on your story?  Story is the primary way people understand what you do and how your products and services will make their lives better.  Make your story unique, emotional, and impactful.

PLEASE, PLEASE MAKE YOUR PLAN SIMPLE: I know, you want to take over the world, and to do that you need to do a bunch of things and make a lot of stuff.  I get it.  But great companies have learned the law of abundance: more is not better and better is not best.  They have learned to focus on a few things, to concentrate on impact and accountability to impact.  A smaller number of things make this simple.  The bigger the list of strategic imperatives the less imperative they become.  Look, you already have all the stuff of your regular day, and it’s creating a whirlwind of activity.  Small, well-planned goals allow for accomplishment.  I know you know what’s coming....  Don’t try more than THREE!


Well, Evan Spiegel has finally unveiled Snapchat’s first wearable tech, “Spectacles,” and with it a new identity. Snapchat, now Snap Inc., released their new sunglasses equipped with wide angle lenses to make it easier for their users to capture and share their content. This move is consistent with their three core business concentrations: camera, communication, and content. Now, will Spectacles be a hit or a bust, like Google Glass? Well, as much as it irks me to say so (only because soon there will be kids across the nation constantly recording everything, yes, more than they do now), I think Spectacles has a real shot of at least some short-term success, and here’s why.
  1. Existing Market - Snap Inc.’s user base gives them access to over 100 million open-minded people who love to share.
  2. Superior Marketing - They are marketing studs, and content is not an issue. While Google Glass came up short on the marketing side, Snapchat has plenty of users constantly creating marketing opportunities.
  3. Good Pricing – While you might expect to pay top dollar for a pair of these bad boys you’d be wrong. This wearable tech is available for $130, cheaper than a pair of Ray-Bans.
With the holiday season right around the corner and this low price, expect these shades to be the go-to gift for any parent with a teenager come December.


I’ve long predicted that Apple's next big move would cross over into the auto industry. I love how Tim Cook continues to hint at what their involvement in the auto industry might look like and it seems as if they may be making a big move soon. Apple is rumored to have discreetly expressed an interest in acquiring McLaren, or more likely their consulting branch MAT (whether or not this rumor is true is yet to be seen). MAT is a top notch, real-time data analytics company that has its finger in everything from professional sports to airport transportation to oil and gas. It’s unlikely that Apple has an interest is building an Apple race car under the McLaren brand and more likely this move would be a talent grab. The acquisition of MAT’s technology and its ability to apply its methods to a wide range of industries means they would add some serious brain power under the hood, and there is nothing Apple would like more than to put blue shirts on MAT’s engineers.

Say goodbye to solar panels as you know them. Until now we’ve only seen panels on roofs or in large open fields farming the sun. Now, thanks to Solar Roadways, this is about to change. Solar Roadways has developed durable solar panels that have the potential to become the future roadways of America.  A rest stop in Missouri, right on Route 66, is about to become ground zero for the next era of solar energy. No, they're not going to start repaving the famous Route 66 with durable glass, but they are replacing all of the sidewalks around this rest stop with these high-tech panels for their big beta test. If this little project is successful, the plan is to move from sidewalks to parking lots to ramps and ultimately major streets and highways. Even if this small test is a hit, the industry still has some major hurdles, number one being price. Until solar panels become efficient to produce, through a refined manufacturing process which will ultimately lower costs of production, this is still a futuristic dream of Greenies of the world. Still, a move this big in the solar energy field is something to get excited about.


Here's what our clients have to say...

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